Èze Travel Guide
Nestled high atop a rocky peak overlooking the Mediterranean sea, the village of Èze is a place that seems frozen in time. Centered around the ruins of a 12th century castle, an intricate labyrinth of medieval streets bursts with craft boutiques and art exhibitions. This charming hilltop village is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Côte d’Azur region of France.
Locals call Èze a village-museé (museum village) and village d’art et de gastronomie (village of art and gastronomy). Its medieval structures blend well with shops, art galleries, hotels, and restaurants. Èze is a small town, but one of the prettiest medieval towns in the world.
Èze is nestled on the hilltop 425 meters above the sea, between Nice and Monaco on the French Riviera. Èze includes a hilltop medieval village (Èze Village — the part worth visiting) and a seaside area which extends to the Mediterranean (Èze-Sur-Mer — a small residential area and the seaside, below the train). It has a population of 3,000, but only a few actually live in the old village, which has been turned into purely a tourist destination.
Budget about 2 hours to explore the Village, and add on time for lunch and if you want to hike down to the beach.
Èze Village is a well-preserved medieval village with steep narrow streets, perched a rock 1,400 feet above the rest of the French Riviera. The mountain-top village dates back to the medieval years, with uneven stone streets, narrow passages, and low archways. It has a small stone archway as its entrance from Place du Centenaire , and a small square to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the plebiscite in 1860.
The village of Èze is known for its winding cobblestone streets, which are so narrow that they are impassable by car. Visitors to Èze must park their vehicles at the bottom of the hill and make the ascent on foot. As they climb higher and higher, they are treated to stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
At the top of the hill, visitors are greeted by the ruins of a medieval castle that was once used to defend the village from invaders. The castle has since been converted into a botanical garden, which is home to a vast array of exotic plants and flowers. The garden is a truly enchanting place, with hidden corners and winding paths that lead visitors on a journey of discovery.
The ruins of a 12th-century fortified castle crown this ancient fortified village. From afar, it looks like an eagle’s nest on top of a narrow peak facing the Mediterranean Sea. Èze was shaped by the Romans, Moors and the House of Savoy. The village was built on top of the rocky outcrop for security reasons, as it was a strategic location for detecting the ever problematic pirates who raided the country time and time again. The walls which were erected in the twelfth century were dismantled in 1706 by order of Louis XIV. Look for the stone plaque among the flower bed, which reminds the people of the vote to join France.
Take a break from walking at the stunning Chateau Eza , a secluded 400-year-old property and former residence of a Swedish Prince, offers a one-star Michelin gourmet experience on their elegant terrace with stunning views of the coastline. For uber-gastronomic dining, the two-Michelin-star La Chevre d’Or is world-famous. Make sure to book in advance.
Èze is also home to a number of artisan shops and galleries, where you can purchase locally made souvenirs and artwork. The village is particularly famous for its perfumeries, which have been producing fragrances for over 300 years.
Èze’s Exotic Garden
Èze’s Exotic Garden (Jardin Exotique) is located at the very top of Èze Village. It’s easy to find: just keep walking through the village upwards. From this garden, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the French Riviera. Overlooking magnificent villas festooned with bright bougainvillea, the Exotic Garden is a haven of tranquility (when not packed with tourists, of course), not to mention a horticulturalists’ dream, packed with a multitude of cacti, citrus trees, tropical plants, succulents, and terracotta sculptures.
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 Èze Village has a lot of steep streets and many steps, the Exotic Garden 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.
Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption
This church is a stunning example of Baroque architecture, with a two-level clock tower. The color is neoclassical in ochre. It was built in 1765. An ancient Egyptian cross built by Phocaean Greeks shows the roots of the town. They erected a temple in the village dedicated to Isis, a goddess of life and eternity, where the village got its name. The church has 18 suns as decorations that resonate with holy presence.
The history of perfume-making in Èze dates back to the 16th century, when the village became known for its production of aromatic plants and flowers. The unique micro-climate of the region, with its mild winters and sunny summers, provided the perfect growing conditions for a wide variety of fragrant plants, including lavender, jasmine, rose, and orange blossom.
At the time, perfume-making was a craft that was practiced by local farmers and herbalists, who would distill the essential oils from the plants using traditional methods. These oils were then used to make perfumes, soaps, and other fragrant products. Over time, the perfume industry in Èze grew and became more specialized. In the 18th century, the town’s first perfumery was established by a local family, and by the end of the 19th century, Èze was home to several prominent perfume houses.
Today, Èze is still home to some of the oldest perfume houses in the world, such as Galimard , Fragonard . Visitors to Èze can take a tour of one of the village’s perfumeries, where they can learn about the history of perfume-making in the region, as well as see how the essential oils are extracted and blended to create the final product. They can also purchase a bottle of perfume or other fragrant product to take home as a souvenir of their visit.
One of the area’s famous residents is none other than U2’s frontman Bono (read about his seaside residence and where he hangs out).
The Nietzsche Path
The path , which connects Èze-sur-Mer and Èze Village, got its name from the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. It means “Nietzsche’s footpaths”. This narrow path up the side of the mountain, through the forest, is where he walked to contemplate and create.
The Chemin de Nietzsche in Èze is great if you want an easy but tiring uphill hike while you enjoy beautiful seaside views from above. The round-trip trek of the 427-meter-high former mule path will take about three hours, and at moments it is rocky and quite strenuous, though not for a reasonably fit person. But what really leaves you breathless is the emotional sweep that seems to carry and lift you, especially on the descent, when the coast reveals itself and leaps straight up from the limestone rock formations.
Check out our complete guide to the Nietzsche Path.
How to Travel to Èze
Whether you are staying in Monaco or Nice, Èze Village is a quick and easy town to reach — just make sure to wear sneakers. It is approximately 25 minutes from Nice and 18 minutes from Monaco.
By air: Take a flight to the Nice airport which is only 30 minutes away from Èze by car.
By bus: If you are in Nice, you can take the tram to the Vauban tram stop, then walk around the small parking lot and go through the archway to the bus station. It might not look like there is a bus station there, but if you continue walking, you will see it. Take buses #112 and #82 from Nice, which alternately leave approximately once an hour from the bus station on Monday-Saturday. Only #82 runs on holidays and Sundays.
Tickets for the bus cost €1.50, and you can purchase them from the bus driver. Sit on the right side of the bus to get beautiful views of the sea as you ride the half hour to Èze. When you do get off at the bus stop, head to the right and up. It is a bit of a hike to the village. After you are finished exploring Èze, you can pick up bus #112 to continue to Monaco if you choose.
By car: The main road to reach it is the Moyenne Corniche (one of the three roads) between Nice and Monaco. The village of Èze is not accessible by car. Visitors to Èze must park their vehicles at the bottom of the hill (if you can find a spot to park) and make the ascent on foot.
By train: Trains run from Nice to Èze-sur-Mer, and the beach is only one minute away from the station. However if you want to visit the Village, you’ll need to take the Nietzsche Path , which is a hike, so you’ll need to wear sneakers. So, we recommend taking a bus to Èze Village, hike down to Èze-sur-Mer and catch the train wherever you want to head back.
Video Tours of Èze
The village of Èze is a true gem of the Côte d’Azur region. With its stunning views, charming streets, and rich history, it is a place that should not be missed by anyone traveling to southern France.