Eze Village – Côte d’Azur, France

Eze village view and coast, Cote d'Azur, Alpes-Maritimes, South of France

Eze village, Côte d’Azur.

Now French territory, the diminuitive Eze peak has been occupied by Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Italians, Turks and Monaco over the centuries, though the oldest building currently standing is a mere 700 years old, the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix.

Eze is tiny and beautiful but so overwhelmed by tourists that it doesn’t really function as a true residential space, more as a ‘museum village’. Nevertheless it’s a gorgeous place and makes an excellent day trip from Nice, along with Monaco and/or Menton.

In season go early or late to avoid the packaged hordes, there’s no entry gate or fee apart from access to the exotic garden.

Eze view over the Cote d'Azur Mediterranean, South of France

Le Jardin Exotique hosts a huge collection of cacti and succulents above Eze village and below the topmost castle fragments. But the view is the best bit.

Eze terraced gardens, Cote d'Azur, South of France

Superb terraced gardens along with giraffe statues belonging to Château de la Chevre d’Or.

Probably the most economic way of having a great gastronomic experience on the Cote d’Azur without breaking the bank is to have a set lunch – and to be very careful with extras.

For instance, the sublime and famous Chevre d’Or in Eze, about 15 minutes from Nice along the spectacular Moyenne Corniche towards Monaco, offers a sensational three course lunch on the terrace with a stunning view and excellent service for euros 59 – though wine, water and coffee could easily double the bill.

By comparison the tasting menu could set you back euros 130 and a la carte could cost around euros 220.

The medieval posterne into Eze village, Cote d'Azur, South of France

The medieval (14thC) posterne into Eze village. #10 on the map.

Eze shops, Cote d'Azur, South of France

Like other cute Côte d’Azur hilltop villages Eze’s shops are more concerned with high-value style items than ice-cream or bottled water.

tourists Relaxing in the Jardin d'Eze, Cote d'Azur, South of France

Visitors taking the weight off in the pay-to-enter Jardin d’Eze (aka cactus garden), in which the cacti are not nearly as splendid as the monumental view. The road opposite is the dramatic Moyenne Corniche, a brilliant drive.

Sentier [path] Nietzsche seen from Eze, Cote d'Azur, South of France

The Sentier Nietzsche seen curving down from Eze to Eze-sur-Mer.

The Nietzsche Way will take fit walkers about 45 minutes to reach Eze rail station and a small beach at Saint Laurent d’Eze, though generally a lot more to walk back.

Nietzsche composed one of the chapters of his philosophical opus ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ while panting his way up that path in 1885.

Another sentier/path, the Savaric, runs from Eze and offers terrific panoramas.

The French Riviera looking towards Nice from Eze, France

The French Riviera looking towards Nice.

From the remains of Eze’s pinnacle fortress, destroyed by Louis XIV in 1706, both the Basse Corniche (beside the Côte d’Azur rail line) and Moyenne Corniche are visible. Eze seen from a high point on the Grand Corniche

Eze motto: ‘Moriendo Renascor‘, In Death I am Reborn.

Eze village map.

Parking and bus stops are on the far right of the map; the ‘exotic’ cactus garden and castle remnants at 32; the peculiar animal garden belongs to Château de la Chevre d’Or at 13; the restaurant in Château Eza at 19 – a former royal residence, has stunning views as well as prices.

Getting to Eze

The nearest large town is Monaco (9kms), which is, of course, not exactly French, but might as well be and is well worth a day trip.

Road: Our favourite road to Eze is the Moyenne Corniche as it’s fast, curvy, has few traffic signals and many spectacular views. However the Basse Corniche offers interesting towns on the way, such as Villefranche-Sur-Mer and sea views and has plenty of bar/café/parking possibilities, but is slow and winding with lots of traffic lights en route. Check our Nice map to see the way to get on to each of the three Corniches.

Train: Eze Bord de Mer SNCF station gets frequent trains in season from Monaco, Nice and beyond, but it’s a long walk up the hill! And back down again, so only for the fit and determined.

Bus: we can’t find any evidence of regular buses to Eze though tourist buses go there in rumbling hordes so taking a tour from Nice may be an option for those who don’t want to rent wheels or climb hills!

– Other popular Côte d’Azur destinations within an easy drive are Cap Ferrat, Menton, Nice (10kms, 30 mins by bus #98), Saint-Paul de Vence, Cannes, Antibes.