The Côte d'Azur’s hidden gem

There’s Monaco and Nice, but Eze is the real star of the French Riviera.

The Côte d'Azur’s hidden gem

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her plane essentials include noise-cancelling headphones, a solid Spotify playlist, sleeping tablets, an eyemask and a large scarf that doubles as a blanket on cold flights – i.e. every night.

While Monaco and Nice are synonymous with southern France, you’d be forgiven for not having heard of Eze before.

Perched high on a hill overlooking St Jean-Cap du Ferrat, Nice, and the sparkling sea below, Eze really is the jewel in the crown of southern France. Having never heard of it before January this year, two months later and just before midnight on a Friday night, I found myself sitting in the back of a car speeding around hairpin bends in pitch blackness. With no sense of surroundings, except the vague feeling that we were climbing higher and higher, the view that greeted us the next day was all the more astounding.

The heart of Eze is actually precariously concentrated on what can best be described as a rocky peak, some 1,400 feet about the Mediterranean Sea below. Formed from the ruins of a 12th-century castle, the village itself is a small labyrinth of alleyways. Most unusually, the commune of Eze is dominated by Chateau de la Chèvre d'Or, one of the world’s finest hotels. Impossible to miss, it is situated at the top of the village, and sprawls the majority of Eze, with its 30 suites dotted all around, many with front doors that open directly onto the main walkways. If you’re cheeky like us, the courtyards are well worth a peek for the jaw-dropping beautiful views, showcasing the series of terraces, swimming pools, gardens and sun decks that stagger their way towards the ocean, leaving a strong mental imprint of how the other half lives.

Perched at the top of Eze is the Jardin Exotique, featuring no less than 400 Mediterranean cacti, citrus trees and tropical plants. The perfect place to stroll around, the view from the top is the highest vantage point you’ll get and provides the perfect backdrop for photos. There are a number of places to sit and soak up the sun and scenery, but once you’ve seen enough cacti for the rest of your life, head back down to the church.

On the edge of Eze, there’s the church that was rebuilt between 1764 and 1778 by Italian architect, Antoine Spinelli. Intimate in nature, unlike many European churches that have been refurbished to within an inch of their lives, this one is charming in its faded glory, giving a real glimpse into how it must have been back when it was built. Adjacent to the church is the cemetery where World War I soldiers have been laid to rest.

It’s also possible to follow the steep olive strewn path, known as Chermin de la Mer, down to Eze-Sur-Mer on the Mediterranean where you’ll find beaches, water sports and al fresco dining; but we decided to forgo the hour and a half round trip in favour of jumping on a bus heading to Nice. Half an hour later, ensconced in an outdoors tapas place overlooking the beach, we were toasting our Aperol Spritz to a wise decision.

While Eze is well worth a visit and the perfect change of scenery from the tourist riddled rest of the Côte d'Azur, you don’t need more than a day there, unless, of course, you’re staying at the Chateau de la Chèvre d'Or, in which case you should probably never leave.

For a more affordable option, the three-star Hotel Hermitage Eze, is tucked away less than two kilometres above the main village. The charming Provençal style interiors are complemented by a swimming pool, cocktail bar and a sunny breakfast room. It may not offer the same grandeur that the Chateau de la Chèvre d'Or, but the homely atmosphere and friendly staff more than make up for that.



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    double j
    22nd Apr 2017
    We have been to Eze and loved it although it is now on the tourist must see list and is getting crowded and expensive. We are fortunate to have travelled through France many times and we are returning this year to spend 2 months just traveling France in our VW camping car. We will visit little mountain villages like Ribeauville,Yvoire Kruth etc
    Our travel plans consist of two lines .... depart Melbourne, pick up our VW camping car in Chester UK and drive to France ......return to Chester, garage our camper and depart for Melbourne, This will be our 8th year of ownership of the camper so it has certainly paid for itself twice over
    22nd Apr 2017
    I grew up in Monaco, in 60's Monaco was such a lovely place, NO MORE!
    We use to go to Eze for picnics, all those places bring back a lot of memories.
    I was fortunate enough to migrate to Australia, now it's my home and the most beautiful country in the world, we are so lucky to live here!
    22nd Apr 2017
    I am assuming you also went to the Verdon National Park and the nearby Moustiers Sue. These are not the glitzy places on the coast but are jewels which I believe are far superior to the tourist traps.
    I think we need to travel together.
    25th Apr 2017
    We discovered Eze last June 2016, when we were staying in Nice. We had passed through Eze sur Mer many times previously, not realising the picturesque "Village perché" could be reached by taking the Moyenne Corniche. We walked up to the Jardin Exotique and were amazed by the array of plants and the view of the coastline. On this trip, we also stayed at La Ciotat which was the setting of one of the very first projected motion pictures filmed by the Lumière brothers in 1895. It is also close to Marseilles, Arles, Cassis and Les Calanques.
    Previously, we have driven through Moustiers Ste Marie, Les Grands Canyons du Verdon, Lac de Sainte Croix (water colour amazing) and many other off-the-beaten track places. When holidaying in France and other parts of Europe, we fly into Nice Airport where we pick up our leased Peugeot from their agency situated near the Arrivals Hall.
    26th Apr 2017
    Très bon itinéraire.

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