Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eze: Enjoying life on top of the world. Summer 2011 Travelogue (3)

Eze-le-Village: from the gardens

Bonjour les amis. A recent visit to Eze convinced me that there is indeed, a Heaven, and that we, humans, do not need to wait to get there. Welcome to Eze-le-Village, sitting way up high on la Côte d'Azur, 430 meters (1410 feet) above the Mediterranean. 

One of Nice's many qualities is how democratic the city is. All bus and tramway rides downtown and in 24 communities around Nice, (all the way to Monaco,) cost a mere 1 Euro (1.45 USD.) An all-day pass costs 4 Euros (5.80 USD.) City buses are clean and comfortable, the tramway state-of-the-art, and the local public transportation system is an incredible deal. Nice is proud to be a "green" city. This measure was introduced three years ago to encourage locals and tourists to use public transportation, and it has proved a successful endeavor. Bravo, Nice!

The trip to Eze-village took 30 minutes. 8 kilometers (5 miles.) I went to Heaven and back, for just 2 Euros. What a steal!

I had been warned about summer crowds, swarming the tiny streets; big tourist coaches parked at the foot of the village in giant parking lots. After my disappointing visit to Monaco, I was not ready to be stuck in another crowded place all day. I followed the same recipe I have been using since I got here: I went early in the day. This is common sense, and yet it is so much easier to do when traveling alone. 

By 10:00am, I was standing at the foot of Eze-le-Village. There were other people there, but nothing overwhelming. 

Eze, the cathedral and old castle, towering over me

My trusted Rick Steves guidebook (you may remember I have great respect for Monsieur Steves and his travel expertise) once again gave me a good tip, and I was able to take my first shot of the village from a secluded pathway 80 feet off the main entrance. 

Eze: Self-proclaimed "Crow's Nest" of the French Riviera

One has to deserve Eze. It is a steep climb to the top. I did not mind my workout in the morning heat (this is a Mediterranean summer, all right!) The views along the way were both my encouragement and my reward. Selection of street scenes. Notice there is hardly anyone around. Yes, folks, one can visit the French Riviera without hitting crowds everywhere! 

A few shops and restaurants but nothing tacky

Need I post more? Eze is one beautiful, quaint, Mediterranean village, with narrow streets designed this way a long time ago to preserve shaded areas in the summer. 

There is more to Eze than pretty cobbled streets. For one thing, there is an exquisite garden, le Jardin Exotique, developed in the 1950s by the village mayor. The terraced garden has been an ongoing work of love, and over 400 different exotic plants (including an impressive collection of rare cacti) have been introduced over the years. They thrive in this dry, hot, sunny climate. 

Most people come to the garden to enjoy glorious Riviera views. That morning, unfortunately, a marine haze was surrounding Eze. Many visitors stayed in the village streets (there is an extra 5 Euro charge to get inside the garden.) 

Heaven must feel like this... life in the clouds!

I enjoyed le Jardin Exotique. It provided great views of the Eze superimposed orange tiled roofs and village houses. Most houses are made of "Turbie stone." There used to be quarries nearby and the stones had to be brought up to the village by mules. Notre-Dame de l'Assomption cathedral can also be admired from the garden. Built in the 18th century by an Italian architect, it boasts a beautiful blue clock. 

Jardin Exotique, Eze rooftops and... a whole lot of marine haze
The Orientation Table did not help much in the morning.
One can see all the way to Corsica on a clear day!

Eze Cathedral and la Moyenne Corniche
(one of the three scenic roads along the coast)

Art is everywhere on the French Riviera, and I was so happy to discover fifteen "Déesses de Terre" (the goddesses) by French artist Jean-Philippe Richard. Each goddess has a name, a personality, and is defined by a poem. They are stunningly beautiful and watch over Eze and le Jardin Exotique

Rose and Anais stand at the top of the garden, in the old Castle ruins

Melissandre, unfazed by the marine haze, looks down at the Mediterranean

Mademoiselle, vous êtes très jolie!

I was hoping the marine haze would finally lift. The coast has its funny ways and the weather changes often. I knew patience would be rewarded. It was hot, and I was getting hungry. It was time to pause for lunch. I had a choice, and could visit one of the village eateries, or... I could make a reservation at the famed Château Eza (a 4-star hotel and restaurant.) This amazing piece of real estate was once the property of the Royal family of Sweden who loved to vacation on the French Riviera. Service started at 12:30pm and in typical Mediterranean fashion, no guests had arrived yet when I showed up to claim my table on the magnificent terrace. Les amis, this was a total splurge and a special moment I will never forget.  The food, the view, the weather, and service: Everything was perfection.

Château Eza: la terrasse panaromique

I will look at this picture often next winter
It's all in the presentation: "Amuse-bouche" offered by Château Eza.
Cold lobster bisque, decorated with local wild flowers...

The view I had waited for all day, and I admired it from my table,
while sipping a glass of chilled rosé.

I could have stayed at Château Eza all day, bien sûr, but la Belle Nice was waiting, and all my [day] trips lead back to her. So long, Eze-le-Village. The Riviera's "Crow's Nest" delivered, once again.

A bientôt.

Château Eza entrance, Eze


  1. What an amazing adventure - great work-out and gorgeous views! You are doing a great job of selling Nice! It looks like you are having a wonderful time.

  2. Well, Veronique, just as I crossed off Monaco, I put this on my list! My camera just about jumped off the table looking at your photos... she cannot wait to get there!

    Rick may be good, but you've got the details, baby!


  3. Wow great pictures of heaven aka Eze! You really captured the heaven effect with all those clouds. It really is one of the most stunning views I have ever seen. Even if the paint came off the expensive plastic ring I bought there. LOL Nothing is perfect n'est ce pas!? =)

  4. What a beautiful town high in the clouds! Your photos are so beautiful. We passed this town on the train to Monaco but didn't stop, unfortunately. Maybe this time with Marita. You look great on the terrace with the Mediterranen behind you. That photo should be enlarged, framed and put in your studio. I'm glad you're having such a wonderful time.

  5. -- Kim -- I am, indeed, having the time of my life. I do not have to sell Nice however. The city does a pretty good job doing that on her own ;-)
    -- Genie -- Merci for the vote of confidence. I know you will love visiting Eze. You just have to remember to arrive early (and pray that no cruise ship has docked in Villefranche-sur-Mer below that day!)
    -- Sandy -- Dang, girl. Sorry about the ring. I did not buy anything in Eze but saw lots of great things during my visit in legendary St Paul de Vence today.
    -- Cherie -- Merci beaucoup. I am glad you enjoyed the shots of Eze. Eze would look good even if you used a cell phone to take pictures! As for framing the picture of intrepid French Girl and posting it in the French Studio... Hmmm... I will have to think about that! ;-)

  6. SO BEATIFUL.....really enjoyed this most favorite part-the goddesses-i would love to know each of their so pretty-much like your picture on the in nice is nice... definitely agreeing with look so happy and content...till the next installment-g

  7. -- g -- Yes, "life is nice, in Nice!" This should be the city's motto, don't you think? I will try and post one more story if I can but if not, I will wrap up next week after I return. I want to enjoy my last two days here, and there is still a lot I want to see in town. ;-) Great visit so far...

  8. What a fantastic village to visit and in which to have lunch! You look like you're floating in the clouds! That's a great shot of you on the balcony Veronique - tres chic...

  9. -- Craig -- Merci! I do not usually like to see myself in pictures but this one I had to post. What an incredible place and experience! This will remain a favorite memory but truly, the whole trip has been amazing (I find I use "incredible" and "amazing" a lot around here.) A bientôt!

  10. You appear magnificent, well-rested, and completely happy. I devour your posts like ice cream on a hot day.

  11. -- Olga -- Merci beaucoup! I guess the French Riviera climate does wonders for this French Girl's morale [and appearance.] It's been a while since anyone has told me I looked "magnificent." Merci for that also ;-)

  12. Veronique, No, not been to Eze, either. It looks glorious, it's being added to the list.

  13. -- Dash -- Pieces of advice for you: Stay away from Eze if you see a cruise ship in the Villefranche harbor (there are enough crowds in Eze as it is without adding hundreds of extra visitors.) Go early in the morning and try to get there by 10:00am to enjoy the streets alone. Do splurge on lunch at Chateau Eza but only if you can eat outside on the terrace. You won't regret it! V.

  14. What a fabulous place! I can't blame you for never wanting to leave that is breathtaking! I appreciate you reminding me of why I love the Mediterranean. In a former career I used to do a lot of travel to the Mediterranean and I so miss it's beauty that is offered everywhere one's been 10 years since I have been there and I miss it SO much! Thank you so much for reminding me why I love it so in this post~


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