Eze - Medieval village, a short bus ride from Nice

SEP 19,2015 - SEP 19,2015 (1 DAYS)

France

1 DAYS

Nature

Eze - French Riviera (Cote d'Azur):

Introduction: It is one of the most beautiful villages in France and an unmissable highlight of a visit to south-east France. We urge you to get away from the French Riviera for an half day (better, sunny full day !)   and see it for a unforgettable experience. The medieval village of Eze is perched high on a hill above the French Riviera - from where it has lovely views along the coast and out across the Mediterranean. The ancient fortified village is still crowned with the ruins of its 12th-century fortified castle (torn down in 1706), sitting on a narrow rocky peak. The castle grounds actually host the well-known exotic garden (see below) (Jardin Exotique). Keep in mind that EZE IS VERY TOURISTIC. Many of its houses are now shops, restaurants or galleries. Eze is a pretty village, but it's not at all off the beaten path.

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Weather: Choose a sunny - BUT NOT a HOT day. in the height of summer it can be exceptionally crowded and challenging to visit, helped by its easy access from so many of the popular riviera resorts including Nice and Monaco. If you can visit Eze in spring it will be a more pleasant experience.

Public transportation:Busses 82 or 112 from Nice. They depart from a parking lot near Vauban (6 stops from Place Massena on the Nice Tram line). Eze village sits beside the very busy Moyenne Corniche (RN7), the main road (along with the Basse Corniche and Grande Corniche) between Nice and Monaco-Menton. The Moyenne Corniche is usually very crowded, and in the summer extremely crowded, so plan an early start.

Dining: There are plenty of cafés and restaurants at Eze village. Most of the lower-priced ones are at the lower part of the village. In the upper part of the old village there are are some up-market hotels' restaurants.

Short history: The area surrounding Èze was first populated around 2000 BC. Eze was the site of an ancient Ligurian oppidum, probably established by the Phoenicians and later occupied by the Romans. The original oppidum was on Mont Bastide, 1 km northwest of the current perched village. A trail, marked by yellow, goes from Eze Village up to the Oppidum de Mont Bastide. The Gallo-Roman Heraklean Way (later replaced by the Via Domitia) passed by Eze; there's a pillar somewhere,  3 km to the west of the village. A Roman tomb can be seen at the Chapelle des Pénitents inside Eze. The area was subsequently occupied by not only the Romans but also the Moors who held the area for approximately 80 years until they were driven out by William of Provence in 973. By 1388 Èze fell under the jurisdiction of the House of Savoy, who built up the town as a fortified stronghold because of its proximity to Nice. The history of Èze became turbulent several times in the next few centuries as French and Turkish troops seized the village under orders from Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1543, and Louis XIV destroyed the walls surrounding the city in 1706 in the war of the Spanish succession. Finally in April 1860, Eze was designated as part of France by unanimous decision by the people of Eze.

Eze Highlights: There are three main highlights in Eze that would deserve even a FULL DAY:

Exploring old Eze: The whole medieval village itself is entirely pedestrianised so you will need to park in the car park down near the main entrance to the village.  Next to the car park you can also find the Eze tourist office. The public toilets are near the parking lot.Spend a few minutes in the village entrance to catch stunning views of the Mediterranean and the hills around the village.

Note: Finding parking at the bottom of the hill can be difficult !!!

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As you enter the village, with your back to the Corniche and the entrance, right to the public bus station, on the south-east side you ascend to the castle. The view from the entrance to the village is stunning. Your way up is adorned with sculptures of: knights, gorilla etc':

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Eze is an incredible walking experience, especially in the Fall when most of the summer crowds have gone home. The views are incredible and the narrow cobbled streets are filled with wonderful galleries, stores and restaurants. This ancient village is a stone stairs hike. The more you ascend - the better views you gain on the village houses:

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From the village heights - view to the sea:

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We continued on up to the fortress-like structure at the top of the hill. There are small houses, tiny shops and cafes and most significantly brilliant views over the coast and out to sea.

View of the castle promontory:

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Note: Eze has become a tourist magnet for good reason: the medieval jumble of houses and the views are just wonderful. Our only advice is to try to arrive either very early or very late in the day when the crowds are less.

The Eze village is fluent with artists, handicrafts and colorful artifacts. Wood carving sculptures:

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Dolls artist:

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Artistic pillows:

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Flowers' paintings gallery:

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A visit to the church cemetery and garden are also worth a visit. As you climb towards the village you can see the church on the hill ahead of you, and you soon enter the narrow paved streets of the historic centre. The rather orange church in the centre of Eze old village was built from 1764 - 1772 and has a neo-classical facade. Eze is so high that the light ochre church (Notre Dame de l’Assomption) can be seen from afar. The two-level square clock tower on the church is lovely. The relatively plain exterior conceals an impressive interior where you can see several interesting decorative features including paintings and frescoes. An Egyptian cross inside the church suggests the village's ancient roots, when the Phoenicians erected a temple there to honour the goddess Isis:

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View of the village houses from the main church (Eglise):

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Around the church there is a path which allows further views of the village houses:

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Above the church there is a cemetery. From there you can gain spectacular views of the bottom bay and sea:

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Adjacent to the church - there is a military cemetery with view of the cliff opposite the village and its aqueduct:

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The village forms a circular pattern around the base of the castle (which is, actually, the Eze exotic garden). The old buildings and narrow streets are very well restored, with high stone walls and narrow roadways of red-brick centered stone. There are numerous streets and alleys to explore in Eze, with many beautiful courtyards, picturesque houses, pebbled roads. One of first views across the coast is also to be seen from here. So much to be seen and photographed around every corner.

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The only fountain in the village:

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Head sculpture on one of the houses:

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Two Grasse parfumeries are represented in Eze village, Galimard (open daily, Tel: (33) 493 41 10 70) with a shop and Fragonard (open daily, 08.30 -18.30, Tel: (33) 493 41 05 05) with shop as well as a factory you can visit.

The lovely gardens of the Chèvre d'Or hotel: Situated beyond stone walls at the top of the village. This is one of the world's finest hotels. A series of terraces drop down towards the ocean, revealing quiet courtyards, swimming pools, sun decks and Moroccan-style gardens.

Allee Chèvre d'Or:

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Horse sculpture on the hotel walls:

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We entered the garden free of charge - with no sign hinting or avoiding our free strolling around:

Hotel Chèvre d'Or - the entrance:

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They are magnificent !!! Unbelievable sculptures, flower-beds, sights of the mountains around and the coasts far down below. It is an heavenly spot. Striking premises of a very expensive and aristocratic hotel. When you arrive at the bottom of Eze village, where the public parking area is located, walk up the road leading to the village and, on your right, follow the signs leading to the Chèvre d'Or hotel front gate. Please note that cars are not allowed in the medieval village. You enter the gates into a corner of paradise where the scents of jasmine, bougainvillea and rose guide the visitor up the gently sloping, multi-colored, rich, fresh and cool lanes:

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Inside the walled chateau there are high ceilings, marble decking and giant chandeliers. The spacious rooms have hosted Marlene Dietrich and Robert De Niro, and are decked out in Italian marble and Parisian antiques. They boast jacuzzis and large terraces with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. Very expensive (minimum 420-450 euros for a double room).

Le Jardin exotique d'Eze: A magical place. Allow nearly 4-5 hours strolling leisurely through the paths, admiring the wide selection of plants from many locales. when you get close to the top of the village you will see the entrance to the gardens which have been established in the ruins of a medieval castle. Almost nothing remains of the castle itself. But, the tropical gardens are superb and the views across the village rooftops and the coast are exceptional and more than worth the admission price (6 euros). Don't visit Eze and dare not paying to enter the gardens. It is a spectacular place and memorable visit for months. The gardens are meticulously maintained. The gardens include a wide range of cactuses and succulent plants and areas for rest and relaxation until you finally reach the belvedere at the top and the best viewpoint of all.

Note: despite being 550 metres above sea level - the uphill walk, inside the gardens, is relatively easy for an averagely fit person.

Opening hours: everyday. JAN-MAR, OCT-DEC: 09.00 - 16.30, APR-JUN: 09.00 - 18.30, JUL-SEP: 09.00 - 19.30. Prices: MAR-NOV: 6 €, students - 2.50 €, children - 12 yrs - FREE. You are buying the ticket for the exotic gardens, but the VIEWS are the highlight of this place. The breathtaking views and photo opportunities are well worth the visit and the entrance fee alone. You can leave and reenter with the same ticket on the day it was bought. Duration: 3-4 hours. You should save for it at least half a day - probably more...

Note: take some water up because it does get very warm and the historic ruins at the top of the gardens are very exposed.

Another note: every September, the French Riviera locales celebrate the Heritage Week Festival (Voyageur Heritage) for 2-3 days. During this period the entrance to the Eze gardens is free. During a couple of days in September - buildings, monuments and sites not normally accessible to the public will open their doors for the European Heritage Days. This is your one and only chance to visit extraordinary sites in France:

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Spectacular views from more remote spots of the gardens. It's well worth the walk up to the top to get a spectacular view. The top of the hill gives way to 360 degree views:

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View of the church:

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A special upper section in the gardens - is actually a sculptures' garden with remains of the old castle. The unique garden adds the visual glamour of sculptural women to the succulent and cactus they surround:

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A fountain near the bus station from Eze to Nice:

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After the village and gardens visit there is a possibility to use Nietzsche Path to go down to the coast and Eze train station (directly to Eze-sur-Mer) where trains to Nice can be caught. The famous writer walked the trail every day. It helped him to think more clearly. Path is in some places very rocky and absolutely not suitable for the unfitted. This trail is really quite difficult to negotiate unless you are used to hill walking. It took us an 75 minutes to get to the bottom. You can catch the #83 bus from Eze Village to Eze Beach. This is spectacular route of hairpin bends that saves you an arduous 1 hour descent.

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