South of France is definitely the part of the country best to visit for an awesome blend of natural beauty, fascinating history, and quaint places to bring you back centuries in the past. Amazingly, some destinations in the southern France, like Eze, offer everything I have mentioned altogether!
Perched atop a hill along the French Riviera, Eze is a picturesque destination worth a visit for its quaint medieval village and breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea. As one of the most beautiful villages in France, visiting this ancient village is a decision you won’t regret. Especially if you’re in search of a place that takes you back in time, provides an escape, or serves as a setting to celebrate something truly special.
Overall, your visit to the medieval village of Eze will be simple. It involves wandering along its cobblestone streets, passing houses adorned with vines and flowers, and taking in the view of the azure coast from high above.
However, being in Eze also presents the opportunity to engage in other unique and refreshing activities. These are very doable after exploring the village.
In this post, we’ll discuss all of them! I’m here to help make your trip to Eze worthwhile.
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To give you an idea of the overall experience you can expect in Eze, here’s a summary of how you can spend your time there:
The journey in Eze usually begins with a visit to Le Jardin Exotique. This garden, located at the highest point of the town, is filled with exotic plants. Afterward, enjoy a leisurely stroll through Vieux Èze. This medieval village is filled with beautiful sights at every corner. Take some time to admire the architecture and enjoy a moment of peace at the Église d’Èze.
Next, dive into the world of fragrances at Parfumerie Fragonard L’Usine Laboratoire. Here, you can learn about the perfume-making techniques that Arabs have been using for over a thousand years.
If you love nature, a hike up Mount Bastide is a must. It offers breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea. Alternatively, the Chemin de Nietzsche is a scenic hiking trail that connects Vieux Eze and the seaside area of Èze-sur-Mer.
For a unique experience, visit Parsec-Astrorama. From this perfect spot in the mountains, you can gaze at the sky through various telescopes. History enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Fort de la Revère, a historic and scenic landmark near Eze.
If you’re in need of relaxation, Eze Beach offers a serene pebble beach where you can unwind. To wrap up your adventure in Eze, take a road trip along the Moyenne Corniche, one of the most scenic roads in the South of France.
Before we explore the attractions and activities in Eze in more detail, let’s first familiarize ourselves with some important details about this village. It’s best to clarify these points early on to avoid any confusion later.
Eze is a commune situated in the southeasternmost corner of France, 22 kilometers from the Italian border, within the Alpes-Maritimes department. If you look at a map, you’ll find Eze nestled between Nice and Monaco, which are the starting points for day trips to Eze
You read it right: Eze is not just a village but a commune, or township.
For simplicity, we can say that Eze has two parts: the “old Eze” perched on a mountaintop and the “modern Eze” or “Eze-Sur-Mer” located near the beach. When we refer to Eze Village, we often mean Vieux Eze or the medieval village of Eze built on top of the mountain. This is the quaint part of Eze and the main attraction of the commune.
Built on a mountain that’s 427 meters above sea level, Vieux Eze can be seen from afar, resembling an eagle’s nest. This is why it’s often described as the “Eagle’s Nest” village. However, Vieux Eze is now more commonly known as the “Museum Village.” This is due to its preserved medieval state, which feels like an open museum, and the numerous art museums found within the village.
Now, let’s dive deeper!
1. Le Jardin Exotique
Let’s start the list with the location offering the most breathtaking views in Vieux Eze — Le Jardin Exotique. As the name suggests, Le Jardin Exotique is a garden filled with exotic plants from various parts of the Mediterranean and desert regions. It’s situated at the highest point in the village.
Visiting Le Jardin Exotique is like accomplishing three things at once. You get to enjoy stunning views of the French Riviera, discover rare plant species, and explore castle ruins that transport you back in time. The castle was built by the lords of Eze in the 12th century. If it had survived past wars and conflicts, it would be over 800 years old today.
Although the castle no longer exists, the magic of the past is still palpable. The tile-roofed houses visible from the vantage points and the maiden sculptures within the garden contribute to the medieval ambiance.
For plant lovers, Le Jardin Exotique is particularly fascinating. You’ll encounter a variety of unusual and intriguing plants, each with its own QR code. By scanning these codes with your smartphone, you can learn more about each plant.
In summary, most of the plants in Le Jardin Exotique are succulents, belonging to species ranging from Agavaceae to Saxifragaceae. These plants originate from regions as diverse as Madagascar, China, and Mexico.
The last time I checked the official website of Le Jardin Exotique, the entry fee indicated was 7 EUR/adult. Then, the opening hours vary per month/season. See details below:
- 9:00 am to 4:30 pm — November to March
- 9:00 am to 6:30 pm — April to June, October
- 9:00 am to 7:30 pm — July to September
Are you also interested in city gardens? They are often elegant and full of heritage. Paris boasts several such gardens, one of which is on my list of must-visit places during a trip to Paris.
2. Stroll in Vieux Èze
If there’s one thing that’s absolutely unmissable in Eze, it’s a stroll through its preserved village. Vieux Eze is the primary reason to visit Eze.
Here, both your physical body and imagination will be transported into a world of medieval charm. This part of Eze offers the ultimate “escapism” experience you might be seeking.
Vieux Eze’s stone-bricked houses, walls covered with flowering vines, ceramic pathways, arches, and curvy metal decorations all seem straight out of scenes from tales and myths.
What may surprise you in Vieux Eze are the charming shops and museums tucked away in the narrow streets of Eze. It’s like a museum within a museum, stepping from one (open) museum into another.
Previously, I suggested that Eze can deliver the top-notch “escapism” you might desire in your travels, are you aware of another location that offers the same? It’s in Colmar.
3. Église d’Èze (Èze Church)
Now that the castle in Eze no longer exists, the only major landmark in Vieux Eze is Église d’Èze or Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption. This structure, specifically the clock tower, can be quickly seen even from the road to Eze.
Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption dates back to the 18th century and showcases neoclassical architecture from the outside. It may not parallel the extravagant churches in France’s primary cities, but it offers many quiet and peaceful moments.
Another church once stood where Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption is built today. It was damaged by previous wars but was rebuilt into what you can see when you visit Eze today. Despite changes in its physical appearance due to time and human conflict, beauty still exists within it.
Like Vieux Eze, the interiors of Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption are akin to a museum filled with religious artworks. The murals inside Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption exhibit a trompe-l’oeil Baroque style, creating a 3D effect that can be deceiving yet magical in appearance.
Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption houses several chapels where you can see canvases of saints, framed stuccoes, and faux marbles. Appreciating them should give you insights into the kind of beauty the residents of Eze had in mind during the enlightenment age.
When it comes to churches, one of the most historical ones in France is situated in Reims. This is where Notre Dame de Reims, the coronation church of the kings of France, is located. Notre Dame de Reims is not only steeped in history but is also frankly stunning.
4. Parfumerie Fragonard L’Usine laboratoire
From the front yard of Église d’Èze, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the area. This includes the Eze bus stop, parking lot, and various shops and restaurants.
In the same vicinity, you will find the next attraction in Eze: Parfumerie Fragonard L’Usine Laboratoire. This is the place where Fragonard brand products are developed and made. This vast factory laboratory of perfumes and cosmetics welcomes anyone who wishes to experience the captivating aroma of their products.
Fragonard is a renowned French perfume brand, famous for its high-quality products at affordable prices. The brand employs a traditional technique used by the Arabs dating back to the 8th century. A visit to the Fragonard factory laboratory will provide insights into how the brand’s creams and other skincare products are made. You will discover the manufacturing techniques that have been used and refined since ancient times.
If you’re familiar with the process of making whiskey, you’ll find the perfume-making process surprisingly similar. The tour provides a wealth of information, but it’s presented in a way that’s easy to digest and highly educational.
A visit to the Fragonard factory laboratory in Eze is not just about observing their machinery and collection of perfume products. They also offer interactive activities such as soap-making workshops and olfactory games to test your sense of smell.
For budget-conscious travelers, the Fragonard factory is a great destination as there’s no entry fee, and the guided tour is also free. You will be accompanied by an expert who can explain everything in detail.
According to the Fragonard Parfumeur’s website, they conduct guided tours every hour from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm, with the closing time at 6:45 pm. If you wish to join, simply go to their reception desk as online reservations are not required.
5. Hike Mount Bastide
The aroma in Parfumerie Fragonard L’Usine Laboratoire is truly pleasing to the senses. However, the scent of fresh air is equally delightful! Eze is nestled between mountains and beaches, offering an environment with minimal pollution.
The most significant aspect is that you will not only breathe in fresh air, but also witness breathtaking views! One of the closest natural attractions from Eze Village is Mount Bastide.
Hiking to Mount Bastide realistically takes about an hour to complete one way, covering nearly 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of trail to the summit. The majority of the hiking trail is flat, with only the middle section having a steep incline (30%+ gradient).
In total, there will be a 190-meter (623 feet) elevation gain from Eze to reach the peak of Mount Bastide, which stands at a height of 570 meters.
You can check this map to guide you well:
The trail is rocky and lined with shrubs. Hiking to Mount Bastide from Eze Village should feel like a rejuvenating experience, particularly when you reach the summit. The journey offers scenic views all the way to the top.
From the summit of Mount Bastide, you can see the coastal town of Eze, the turquoise beaches of the French Riviera, and as far as the Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat peninsulas.
Here’s a 360-degree view of the landscape from the summit of Mount Bastide:
6. Chemin de Nietzsche (Nietzsche Hiking Trail)
In addition to Mount Bastide, another nature activity you can try in Eze is hiking the Nietzsche trail. This trail connects Eze-Sur-Mer and Vieux Eze. Like the Mount Bastide hike, you can expect breathtaking views from here.
You might be wondering why it’s called the Nietzsche trail. The name dates back to the late 19th century when the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche visited Eze. He sought a warmer place to live to alleviate his migraines and to have the freedom to philosophize. Nietzsche’s stay in Eze proved beneficial. He once said, “I slept well, I laughed a lot, and I found marvelous vigor and patience.”
During his time in Eze, Nietzsche completed his book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” parts of which were inspired by Eze, most notably the scenic mountain trail locals then called “Le Chemin de Nietzsche.” With its breathtaking coastal views and tranquil forest trails, it’s easy to see why Nietzsche found both healing and inspiration on this mountain trail.
If you want to experience a touch of the nature that Nietzsche enjoyed, Eze is a destination to consider! After exploring the charming Vieux Eze, the Chemin de Nietzsche is the mountain trail to hike if you want to relax on a beach.
Hiking the Chemin de Nietzsche from Vieux Eze is less strenuous than the Mount Bastide hike due to its downward slope, with a 350-meter (1148-feet) elevation difference. The trail is primarily rocky, with some parts made into stairs. The trail extends slightly more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles). It can take you 45 minutes to an hour to hike the Chemin de Nietzsche from Vieux Eze to Eze-Sur-Mer beach.
You can use this map to guide you further if you want to hike the Chemin de Nietzsche from Vieux Eze to Eze-Sur-Mer beach and vice versa:
7. Èze Beach
If you’re visiting in the summer or simply want to unwind with the soothing sound of the sea, a trip to Eze Beach is a great idea. The South of France boasts many beaches, but if you’re seeking a less crowded option, Eze has one.
Eze Beach sees fewer tourists compared to other beaches in the area for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s a pebble beach. Additionally, while Eze Beach is long, the area where you can walk is relatively narrow.
Despite this, Eze Beach is clean and offers beautiful views. You can see the rocky mountains and hills right from the coast. The water is also very clear.
If you plan to visit Eze Beach, it’s advisable to bring appropriate footwear to ensure comfort while walking on the pebbles. As there are fewer shops in the vicinity, you might want to bring your own food for a picnic.
For those seeking accommodation, there are resorts and beach hotels along the beach. Here’s a 360-degree view of Eze Beach for your reference:
If you’re traveling to the French Riviera with children, one of the enriching experiences they can enjoy is provided by Astrorama. This venue, known as the “true balcony to the stars,” is just a 10-minute drive from Eze Village.
Astrorama is managed by Parsec, an association dedicated to scientific mediation in the fields of Astronomy and Space. With their guidance, you and your child can learn a great deal about outer space.
The program offered by Astrorama includes a variety of educational sessions and hands-on experiences. These include planetarium sessions and activities designed to help you discover constellations.
Perhaps the most exciting part is when you and your child are given the opportunity to observe the stars, sun, and moon using their sophisticated telescopes and instruments. If you’re interested in acquiring your own space observation tool, the experts at Astrorama can advise you on what to purchase and teach you how to use it.
Astrorama is situated 650 meters above sea level, nestled in the mountains and hills, slightly removed from the city’s light pollution—making it an ideal location for stargazing. Here’s where you can find Astrorama:
It’s important to visit Parsec Astrorama when the weather is favorable. Cloud cover can hinder the experience. Be sure to check your weather app before going, or consider visiting during the summer when the skies are typically clear.
You can find more information about Astrorama’s programs, the schedule of activities, and reservation tools on their official website, which is in French.
9. Fort de la Revère
Fort de la Revere is a hidden gem in Eze, offering both historical value and breathtaking views. It’s a favorite picnic spot among locals, boasting a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea that extends all the way to the city of Nice.
On clear days, the view from Fort de la Revere can reach as far as the Cap Corse peninsula on the island of Corsica, which is 180 kilometers away (112 miles).
Situated at an altitude of 696 meters (2283 feet), the view from Fort de la Revere is even more breathtaking than what you can see from Eze Village. In fact, you can observe Eze Village from here, with the sea serving as a stunning backdrop.
The history of Fort de la Revere dates back to the end of the 19th century, a time when the French identified this site as an ideal location for guarding the skies above the city of Nice. The fort is quite fascinating to explore, especially if you’re interested in experiencing military architecture firsthand. One notable feature is the fort’s roof, which is made of soil and grass, making it difficult to detect by plane bombers.
Like Mount Bastide, Fort de la Revere can also be a hiking destination from Eze Village. The hiking trail between these two locations stretches for 2.2 kilometers (1.36 miles) with an overall elevation gain of 330 meters. If you’re an experienced hiker, you can complete the hike from Eze Village to Fort de la Revere within an hour. However, it’s worth noting that this hike is more challenging than the Mount Bastide hike.
Here’s a map to guide you further:
If you have an interest in military or defensive structures, you might want to visit the beautiful city of Strasbourg. The city features a dam mechanism that was used to transform the river surrounding its old city into a large moat. This served as a defensive measure to prevent enemies from entering the city.
10. Moyenne Corniche
If you’re visiting Eze by car, you should definitely take a drive along Moyenne Corniche. This is one of the most scenic roads on the French Riviera and is generally considered safer to drive than the Grande Corniche.
Moyenne Corniche is the road that overlooks Eze-Sur-Mer. It’s situated a few hundred meters above sea level and runs parallel to Eze beach. If you want to travel the entire road, you’ll be driving for approximately 25 kilometers (15.5 miles), starting from Nice and extending past Monaco.
Moyenne Corniche offers numerous incredible photo opportunities. If you’re traveling by car, there are several points along the road where you can park. The best spots often have a wide road shoulder that is specifically designed for sightseeing.
Have this part of Moyenne Corniche near Eze as an example:
You can swipe the 360-image above to see more views. Click the forward arrow to navigate along Moyenne Corniche.
Best Time to Visit Eze
While Eze is open and accessible throughout the year, the optimal time to visit, in my opinion, is from May through September. This period typically sees little to no rainfall in the French Riviera, making it ideal for outdoor adventures and beach activities.
During these months, Eze is particularly enchanting when bathed in sunlight. The strong sunlight enhances the beauty of the village, intensifying the hues of the stone houses and the flowers and vines that adorn their facades. This creates a visual feast that will have you eagerly exploring every corner and capturing photographs at every turn.
One particularly magical time to visit Eze is during the late afternoon until sunset. Perched atop a hill, Eze offers panoramic views of the Mediterranean. As the sun descends towards the horizon, the scenery is bathed in a golden glow, creating a truly unforgettable spectacle.
The importance of pleasant weather during a visit to Eze cannot be overstated, especially when considering the attractions and activities around the medieval village. The beach, hikes, and scenic drives are all more enjoyable and fun under a clear, blue sky!
If you’ve visited other beautiful villages in the South of France that resemble Eze, and the weather is uncooperative on the day you plan to visit Eze during your trip in the French Riviera, I would strongly recommend rescheduling your visit to Eze for a day when the weather is perfect.
How Much Time to Spend in Eze
Ideally, a single day is sufficient to see the highlights of Eze, which include Vieux Eze, Le Jardin Exotique, and one outdoor attraction. However, the amount of time you need in Eze greatly depends on your reasons for visiting.
If you’re primarily interested in sightseeing, you can visit Eze in just an hour. Conveniently located between the beautiful cities of Nice and Monaco, Eze is a perfect short stop during your journey.
An overnight stay in Vieux Eze (Château Eza or Hôtel Château de La Chèvre d’Or) would be most fitting for a special trip, such as a honeymoon or anniversary, where a unique location is desired for such a memorable occasion. In this case, you might prefer a hotel in Eze with a view of the coast, where you can relax all day and night, soaking up the romantic ambiance of the village.
You can find out how much it costs to stay a night in the mentioned hotels right here.
Where to Stay in Visiting Eze
Unless you’re on a special trip, as previously mentioned, I wouldn’t recommend staying within Vieux Eze. The prices can be quite high as these are five-star hotels.
If you’re keen on staying in Eze for specific reasons, consider Eze-Sur-Mer, where more affordable deals can be found. One reason could be the proximity to Vieux Eze, allowing you to reach the medieval village quickly. This could be particularly useful if you want to catch the sunrise in the village.
Another reason might be if you plan to engage in outdoor activities around the village. However, the hotel options in Eze are not as plentiful as those in nearby cities.
If you’re looking for a more affordable hotel that’s closer to a wider range of attractions and amenities, consider booking in Nice or Monaco. The best hotel deals in the French Riviera can be found here.
How to Get to Eze
When you’re in Monaco or Nice, Eze is just a simple trip away.
If you’re starting from Nice and heading to Eze, you’ve got a few options. You could hop on a train from Nice Ville to Eze, which runs every 30 minutes and gets you there in about 13 minutes. If you prefer the bus, the Zou! Alpes-Maritimes bus goes from Col de Villefranche to Èze Village every hour, and the ride is about 9 minutes. And of course, if you’ve got a car, you can drive the 12.4 kilometers or 7.7 miles via Corniche André de Joly and Avenue Bella Vista.
Now, if you’re in Monaco, you can also take the train from Monaco Monte Carlo to Eze. It’s a short 7-minute ride and trains run every 30 minutes. The Zou! Proximité bus is another option, going from Jardin Exotique to Èze Village every 2 hours, and it takes about 10 minutes. If you’re driving, it’s about 12.8 kilometers or 8 miles to Eze from Monaco.
You can check the bus schedules from the official website of Zou!
Arriving at Eze by train? You can catch bus #83 for a quick ride to Eze Village. If you prefer a hike, the Chemin de Nietzsche is a scenic route from the Eze train station to Eze Village.
Guided Tours and Eze Day Trips
Do you need help getting around Eze or Nice to see the unmissable attractions?
There are tour packages that let you see not only Eze but also Nice, Monte Carlo, and Monaco—it’s the best deal! You also have options to visit the best attractions in the French Riviera (of course, Eze is included) by road or by boat!
If you are interested in the tours to Eze and the French Riviera, you may check this list of tours/guides for more information.
More Beautiful Villages Like Eze
If you’re interested in visiting more places like Eze or comparing Eze to another beautiful village in the South of France, I have some recommendations: 10 of the most beautiful villages in the south of France. Like Eze, they are charming, with some surrounded by various attractions and others offering incredible views.
If Eze has sparked your interest in exploring romantic and quaint villages, consider Saint-Paul-de-Vence, which is also in the French Riviera, as well as Gordes and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. These villages are perched on hilltops and are home to little gems like artworks and panoramic viewpoints.
For a trip that feels like it’s straight out of a fantasy novel, consider Carcassonne, Rocamadour, and Domme. They are among the most historical villages in my recommendations. When you visit these villages, expect to discover many interesting tales and scenes that transport you back in time!
Lastly, if you’re looking for a beautiful village surrounded by spectacular natural attractions, you should discover Chamonix, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, and Aigues-Mortes. From the Alps to the gorges and to the pink seas, these villages offer experiences you wouldn’t want to miss for a blend of wanderlust-satisfying and adventurous moments.
Well, that’s all the information I have about Eze at the moment. If this post was helpful, I’d appreciate it if you could save it on Pinterest and spread the word! Thanks so much, and may your upcoming journeys be enjoyable.
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