Eze village, Eze-sur-Mer
Alpes-Maritimes (06360) Population: 2,446 Altitude: 427 m
Eze is a medieval village 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), sitting on a narrow rocky peak. The castle grounds host the well-known Jardin Exotique, and from the top (429 m) you'll have an great view of 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 narrow, and very pretty, with cobblestones, stone walls and ancient 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.
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. At the road junction is the main parking lot for the village. The area near the road and parking lot is where you'll find cafés, restaurants and shops.
The ancient Eze Village is contrasted by the residential Eze-sur-Mer, a seaside "town" between Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Cap d'Ail. Eze-sur-Mer has beaches, water sports, cafés, restaurants and hotels. And a train station.
Eze is a pretty village, but it's not at all off the beaten path. The narrow streets are also very steep, and many with steps, so it's not easily accessible for people with mobility problems. On the up side, you can't get lost from your friends, at least no for long. There's only a single point of entry (or exit) for the old village: through the vaulted Potern entry at the end of Place du Centenaire.
The 18th-century Notre Dame de l'Assomption church of Eze is a pretty, neoclassical ocre color, and has a two-level square clock tower. There are pretty 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 in the old village.
The Eze Gardens (Jardin Exotique) a re located at the very top of the Eze village. It's easy to find: just keep walking through the village upwards. The cost of entry (2017) is 12 euros, kids under 12 free. The fact that the gardens have an entry fee isn't clearly marked in the lower village.
The Garden has an extensive collection of Mediterranean plants, all well tended and clearly marked and explained for the visitors. The view, however, surpasses the plants, and is the main reason most people come here.
While Eze village has a lot of steep streets and many steps, the Jardin Exotique has lots and lots of steps and some steep paths. If your legs can stand it, the visit is well worth the effort, because the views are magnificent.
Two Grasse perfumeries are represented in Eze village, 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 Eze map, free from the Office de Tourisme located at the corner of the parking lot.
Fort Revère is located on the mountain ridge above the Col d'Eze.
- Maison de la Nature: expositions; Wed 13h-17h free; Herbs, photos.
- Sentier Nature de la Grande Corniche. 1 hr, 1500 m walk. But plan on 1h30-2h. Incredible views, from tower table d'orientation and other spots. Sign-posted plants and geological information (in French, with diagrams). Views over the sea and inland towards mountains. Herbes de Provence, perfumed air.