Perched high in the hills above the French Riviera, the medieval village of Èze, France (pronounced like Pez but without the ‘P’) looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale…..think Belle’s village in Beauty and the Beast. As you stroll through its pristine, narrow streets, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. At every turn, you will be welcomed by the rich, sweet scent of the blooming jasmine growing along the walls of the ancient buildings.
One of the main attractions in Èze is Le Jardin Exotique (the Exotic Garden), located at the top of the village. The garden is located on the site of a former medieval fortress, perched over 1,400 feet above the Mediterranean sea. The castle walls date back to the 12th century; however, locals have lived in this area since around 200 BC!
Le Jardin Exotique offers one of the most spectacular views of the French Riviera, extending all the way to the Esterel Mountains and to the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. For €7 per person (free for kids under 12), you can explore the gardens and enjoy the panoramic views of the Mediterranean.
While the garden and castle ruins are definitely worth a visit, my favorite part of my visit was exploring the quaint shops and cafés that line the narrow village streets. And I’m not talking about junky souvenir shops, I’m talking shops and art galleries with beautiful, high quality goods.
Within the village, you’ll find Château de la Chèvre d’Or a luxurious 5-star boutique hotel with exceptional views of the Cote d’Azure. The hotel also offers stunning views from it’s two Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant (open for lunch and dinner), but be sure to make a reservation ahead of time on their website. Located between the iconic destinations of Nice and Monaco, Château de la Chèvre d’Or is considered one of the most romantic hotels in the region.
Since I didn’t have a reservation for the restaurant, I opted for the hotel’s alternative but equally beautiful Le Café du Jardin. It can be difficult to get in here as well, but I was fortunate to arrive at the perfect time and snagged a table for lunch.
And, oh my gosh, I have NEVER experienced such a stunning view while enjoying a meal of wood oven-fired pizza and local wine. The café feels like a garden terrace suspended in the sky overlooking the Mediterranean sea. I felt like I was in the midst of a Hollywood movie set and expected James Bond to wander by at any moment and order a Vesper Martini. The café truly is an outdoor culinary experience in and of itself.
“If you haven’t visited the medieval village of Èze, it’s time to add it to your Life List”
Èze is an easy day trip from Nice. There are two bus routes from Nice, number 112 and number 82. Be careful not to catch the bus that goes to Èze sûr Mer, which is only the beach and not the hillside village. You can also take the train from Nice to Èze sûr Mer, then catch a bus up to the hillside village. I opted for the easy option and caught an Uber from Nice to the village for around €15 each way.
From the bus stop or Uber drop-off point, you will walk up the hill (it is a bit of a climb) to the village. The Tourist Information Center will be on your right as you head up.
If you haven’t visited the medieval village of Èze, it’s time to add it to your Life List. You will not be disappointed. With something extraordinary to see at every turn, it’s a must-see dreamy destination for anyone traveling to the French Riviera.
PRO TIPS: Try to visit Èze early in the morning (before 10:30) to avoid the peak crowds. However, even in the early afternoon when I visited, I did not feel that the small village was overcrowded.
The village terrain includes steps and ancient cobblestones, so do wear comfortable shoes, and definitely leave the flip flops at the hotel if you cherish your toes! If visiting in summer, I highly recommend wearing a hat as the Riviera sun can be quite harsh (or opt to buy a cute one in a local shop in the village like I did!).
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