History and old buildings lovers, or simply looking for breathtaking views, Èze village is the perfect place to stroll, dream and enjoy. This village is just amazing. Located at 419 meters above sea level between Nice and Monaco, you will enjoy an authentic and typical architecture while visiting small artisan shops all around. The freshness of the stone and the perfect preservation of this place make it really a fabulous place.
Èze is a medieval hamlet perched like an eagle’s nest on a narrow rocky peak overlooking the Mediterranean sea. The ancient fortified village is still crowned with the ruins of its 12th-century fortified castle (torn down in 1706). The castle grounds host the well-known Jardin Exotique, and from the top (429 m) you can have an great view over the coast.
The village forms a circular pattern around the base of the castle. The old buildings and narrow streets are very well restored, with high stone walls and narrow roadways of red-brick centered stone. The streets are very cramped, and also very pretty, with cobblestones, stone walls and archaic buildings. The sense of this ancient village’s medieval past is, however, largely offset by the multitude of souvenir shops and streets full of tourists.
Èze is very pretty, but it’s not at all off the beaten path. Those narrow streets are also very steep, and many with steps, so it’s not easily accessible for people with mobility problems. On the other side, you can’t get lost from your friends, at least no for long because of how small it is.
There’s only a single point of entry (or exit) for the old village from the “village” side: through the vaulted Potern entry at the end of Place du Centenaire. To find the entrance, take the small, rocky path which has a splendid view of the gardens surrounding the Chateau de la Chevre d’Or.
Once inside, you will discover a small Provencal village filled with charm and colourful window boxes, offering a panoramic view of the sea and coastline.
From here just keep walking up the hill and exploring many alleys and staircases and you will discover most of the places of interest sooner or later. These include the Chapel of the Penitents Blancs, built at the beginning of the 14th century, the oldest building in the village and the Porte des Maures, a gateway out of the other side of Èze next to the Chateau d’Èza.
Small narrow roads, archways and superbly restored stone houses, shady squares, refreshing ancient fountains…you will soon be seduced by the marvels of Èze. The village is so beautiful, it’s hard to believe you have not stumbled onto a movie set.
The streets around Place Francis Blanche are very picturesque and with several cafés, art galleries and many plants and bougainvillea flowers. Small fountains and interesting windows and doorways all add to the charm of the village.
Those numerous small arts and crafts boutiques are hard to resist…some of them are like tiny caves dug out of the rocky hill-side.
Watercolors or paintings done by local artists are for sale. If you’re lucky, the artist might be in the shop (or nearby) and will sign your new piece of artwork, which is a great memory to take home from Èze.
As you walk up the hill towards the village you can see the church on the hill ahead of you for the first time. The 18th-century Notre Dame de l’Assomption church of Èze is a charming, neoclassical ocre color, and has a two-level square clock tower. The relatively plain exterior conceals an impressive interior where you can see several interesting decorative features including paintings and frescoes. There are cute little shaded squares as you walk up through the village, and the view out over the valley is very nice. There are also some terrace cafés at the top and some high-class hotel restaurants.
The streets of this medieval village have witnessed its historic past. The two look-out towers at the entrance, the door-way and the gun-boat are all classified as historic monuments. On the corner of the street right underneath the church can also be find the armor.
When you get close to the top of the village, you’ll see the entrance to the Jardins Exotique – exotic gardens which have been established in the ruins of a medieval castle. Although little remains of the castle itself, the semi-tropical gardens are superb and the views across the village rooftops and the coast are exceptional and more than worth the admission price.
by this way
In 1949 the mayor of Èze, Rene Gianton, decided to create an exotic garden on the site of a ruined fortress at the top of the village. With the help of the creator of the Exotic Garden of Monaco, Jean Gastaud, he began this stunning garden.
Rocks and stones were hauled up the hillside by hand to create the terraces and structure of the future garden. Next cacti, aloes and agaves were carried up. These were a mix of young and mature plants and included a 130 year old crown of thorns weighing half a ton.
The early garden was a huge success and was extended with succulents, yuccas and huge variety of exotic plants.
The garden is split into two main areas with the southern part home to the hundreds of succulents and cacti and a Mediterranean garden in the northern part with also a pond and waterfalls planted with plants which enjoy humid conditions. Next to the pond are some loungers allowing you to stop and relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the garden.
The combination of excellent planting and wonderful views makes the exotic garden an unmissable part of your visit.
As if that was not enough, a selection of wonderful statues is displayed there. These are by Jean-Phillipe Richard. His female statues are made of bronze, clay and crystal and add to the harmony of the garden.
The various paths wind up and around the hillside towards the ruins of the fortress at the top. As you explore, you get extraordinary views over the Cote d’Azur and over the roofs of the hamlet underneath.
At the top of the garden you reach the belvedere and the best viewpoint of everything underneath. From here you might also notice the small belltower above the rooftops – this is the already mentioned small Chapel of Penitents Blancs.
The region is famous for the many flowers that grow there (not only those in the garden), and there are a number of perfumeries to be explored, including the Galimard with a shop and Fragonard with shop as well as a factory you can visit. Both perfumeries offer a 10% discount if you have the Èze map, free from the Office de Tourisme.
I visited Fragonard.
From the village you can also visit “Èze bord-de-mer” by taking the Friedrich Nietzsche path (at the end of the “avenue du Jardin Exotique”), it appears that here, under the olives and pine-trees that Nietzsche composed the last part of his work ” Thus Spoke Zarathustra “…this delightful walk takes about an hour. You’ll need more time to climb back up!
By taking the high coastal road you will discover a superb forest-park covering about 610 hectares. Here you can visit the “Maison de la Nature” and the “oppidum du Col d’Èze“. As night falls, you can also admire the wonderful spectacle of the stars twinkling above!
Those little terracotta squares in the left bottom corner – yep, that is the beginning of the Nietzsche path that ends on the beach you can see on the right side of the picture. I personally didn’t tried it because Èze was just the first stop of the day, but in the meantime I would really love to.
To reach the village, I recommend the bus. Several bus lines depart from Nice to get to the village. Line 82, 112, 116 100 and 83 all go to the village. Ask your hotel if you want more information on bus stops.
If you would like to use the car, Èze village has two parking lots below the historic village (one is visible from the road and the other is located just behind the shops. Parking is not free (about 2 € per hour) and is often full, so it’s pretty difficult to park. Warning! Èze village is located at the top of the town of Èze, on the middle ledge! t is well indicated on the road.
Next to the car park you can also find the tourist office. The tourist guide has a useful map to help you explore and with information about the monuments to look out for in the village. Nearby is also a supermarket – not as expensive as the goodies up in the village.
Èze village entrance is free, only the entrance to the Exotic Garden costs 6 euros. All the other interest points are free. On the other side, if you want to eat or drink, be aware that prices are a bit high. Count on 4 euros for a cool drink and about 15 euros for a sandwich with a drink and dessert. Èze also has its share of fine dining with panoramic views. Expensive but impressive views. Also, there are several public toilets in the village itself and nearby the Tourist Office. They are not free though, you need to get coins as it costs 50 cents per one “journey”.
view from one parking lot
Have a great day! 🙂