Eze on the French Riviera

We spent our New Year’s Day 2008 in a small village called Eze, which I’d long wanted to visit.

Where is Eze ?
Eze is the village standing on the rocky hill between Nice and Monaco.

a postcard I bought in Eze
click on the card, and you get a larger image.

The town is situated on a craggy hill that looks like a nest of an eagle, and it’s got another name “nid d’aigle” (eagle’s nest). The high cliff is located 427m above sea level on the French Mediterranean, and it gives you a great panoramic view of the French Riviera. It’s just breathtaking.

First, we arrived at Eze station at the foot of the cliff rising to the sky. There were no other people around except us, and there were not many buses available, either. We were a little worried about our situation… One hour passed at the bus stop before our bus came. After the long wait and patience, we finally got relieved and retrieved our hope. The bus driver saved us!

The higher the bus went, the wider the view, and the more people there were. The bus driver had a great art of controlling his bus on the meandering road.

How is it possible to drive in such condition, and how is it possible they pass each other on such a road!

It was about ten minutes before we reached the village on the hill, and we found that most of the tourists here came by car. Especially we saw many sightseeing buses parked on the street…

We expected a quiet place there, but actually there were many people thinking the same thing as we were. On Christmas and New Year’s Day, more people come here to stay and have dinner at some prestigious hotels, but between the two events, I think it’s rather quiet. We came after Christmas, so for the first few days it was OK, but after New Year’s Eve it was very difficult to find a table at a restaurant.

a map of Eze I found in the village
Click on the picture to get a larger image.

Click on the picture to get a larger image

The history of Eze
Eze had a prosperous time in the Roman time and was integrated into Genoa and Monaco in the medieval time. Until 1861 when it became a territory of France, Eze was also part or the Kingdom of Sardinia and was called Eza in Italian. Under such various influences, this small village has attained the unique atmosphere that contains both French and Italian cultures. Their road signs are written in both languages, and the people also speak the two languages. Furthermore, Eze people have or had some dialects. They say it was close to the Monegasque language used in Monaco, and that it was related to the Ligurian language and the Occitan language.

The Egyptian cross that is kept in the church also tells us that the village history dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, who built a temple to worship the goddess Isis. I found the village symbol while I was walking on the street (the picture below). It reads “Isis Moriendo Renascor” (meaning “In death I am Reborn”). You see a Phoenix perched on a bone. This is the village motto.

Click on the picture to get a larger image.

Sightseeing in Eze
Eze is very famous for the wonderful view overlooking the French Mediterranean.

The oldest building in Eze is the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, which was built in 1306. People then had meetings there to discuss how to give assistance to plague victims. The shape of the church bell shows that the village once belonged to the Republic of Genoa.

I also found an interesting fountain.

It was made in 1930 and was the only fountain in the village. Before that time, the villagers had to carry a tank of water from the town at the foot of the mountain.

Inside the village are some souvenir shops, art galleries, famous rich hotels and restaurants. It’s like a small museum, and there are no locals who live here any more.

colorful shops are packed in a small place

The shop for olive tree craft (the photo on the left)
Ravioli a la Nicoise Sauce at a café in Eze (the photo on the right)

Fragonard has an outlet shop here in Eze. If you like perfume, you may find something nice.
Visit their home page : Fragonard

I bought one for souvenir!

The village also has a botanical garden, which is famous for the great view of the sea, but when we visited there it was closed. Check the details at the official web site.

Eze at night
If you think of a few days staying in the village, I recommend your walking at night. It’s gorgeous. Maybe it’s because we were there at Christmas time, but I still think it’s more beautiful at night. Avoid the high season, and you’ll appreciate a quiet and peaceful moment there. During the daytime, there are too many visitors.

with some Christmas decorations

warm lights add more calmness

I really liked the atmosphere.

Hotels/Restaurants in Eze
Here in Eze, there are some worldwide famous hotels. Among them are Chateau de La Chevre d’Or and Chateau Eza

Chateau de La Chevre d’Or

Chateau Eza

They both have four stars. We couldn’t afford several nights at such an expensive hotel, but we had a gorgeous dinner at Chateau Eza. They have a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. What we had that night was Degustation Course €105. I was very excited, but at the same time, very nervous… Too good, too stylish for us. It was my first experience to have pre-dessert, dessert and post-dessert (I don’t know what I should call them, but three times I had dessert time).

And, this is the hotel we stayed in.

Hotel Restaurant Eze Hermitage

This hotel stands on the place higher than Eze village. It’s a little far to get there on foot, but Bus 83 takes you to the hotel directly. The hotel is the terminal, “Plateau de la Justice”. It’s about 10 minutes. It stops at Eze village, too. Only one bus every hour.

Their restaurant also has a good reputation. They have three stars.

Eze Hermitage has a negative point of being away from Eze village, but we found a great point of this hotel while staying there. One day we were walking around the hotel, because they said there were some nice hiking courses around, and we did find some nice view points. Look at the pictures we took there. Can you imagine it’s New Year’s Day!!

Mon Bastide(570m)
It was just beautiful.
No words can describe the beauty.

the blue sky and the blue sea in the south.

In the west you see Nice.

In the north you see the Alps.
This is the sunrise on New Year’s Day in Eze.

How to get to Eze
Many tourists stop by at Eze on the way to Monaco or Nice by car. We used TGV from Marseille to Cannes, and at Cannes we took a local train to Eze (the station name is “Eze Bord de la Mer”).

Arriving at “Eze Bord de la Mer”, we first found the tourist office. Unfortunately it was closed during the winter vacation, but it’s good to know. You can take Bus 83 to Eze village or Eze Hermitage Hotel (only one bus every one hour/€1.30), or you can call a taxi. At the tourist office two taxi drivers’ numbers are given (but remember, they don’t work during the winter vacation/€30 to Eze). From Nice, Bus 82 is available. It goes to Eze Hermitage Hotel and Eze village, too.

It’s a little difficult to reach there if you don’t have a car, but it’s still possible to get there in other ways.
Ligne d’azur Homepage
Information about the buses

Eze Tourist Office  Homepage