Dubbed the Eagle's Nest and sitting on a cliff 1,400 feet above the sea, Èze has commanded admiration for thousands of years. First settled by ancient explorers in 2000BC, it was also the home and muse of Swedish Princes and celebrated philosophers. Today, Èze is a portal to another world of romantic Medieval alleys, Michelin-Star terraced restaurants, and one of the most stunning views in the world. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in a variety of bucket-list experiences that are sure to be the highlight of any trip on the French Riviera. Perched on a cliff between Monaco and Nice, Èze is an exceptional day trip or overnight stay during your time in the South of France.
Èze, France History
Its rich history begins as the site of a temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis built by the Phoenicians, a sea-faring Mediterranean civilization founded in 1500BC. The ancient temple was also its' namesake - it was known throughout history as Isie, Isia, Esa, and now Èze.
Its strategically advantageous position led to centuries of conquest and conflict, Èze was at one point controlled by the Romans, the Moors, the House of Savoy, the Republic of Genoa, and the Turks before voting to become a part of France in 1860.
The village was built into a fortified stronghold in 1388 by the House of Savoy before being conquered by the Turks in 1543. The greatest damage dealt to Èze during conquest was at the hands of Louis XIV in 1706, when the medieval walls surrounding the village were destroyed during the was of the Spanish Succession.
One of the most fascinating illustrations of Èze's history lies within the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix. Built in 1306, the church was a meeting place for the White Penitents, an order dedicating their life to helping victims of the plague. The church holds several religious relics as well as a small monument to their Egyptian roots, a rare inclusion of an ankh (Egyptian cross) on the walls of the church. It also holds a beautiful relief of their coat of arms, a phoenix perched on a bone with the inscription, "In death I am reborn."
During the past century, Èze has been the home of royalty, musicians, and artists, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Swedish Prince Guillaume, and Yugoslav violinist Zlatko Balokovic.
What To Do In Èze, France
Le Jardin Exotique (Exotic Garden)
Some of the best views in Èze can be seen from the top of the Exotic Garden, planted on the site of an ancient fortress. Cacti, succulents, and native Mediterranean plants are nestled on the terraces between statues by Jean-Phillipe Richard and 360* views of the coast. In the summer it can get very hot and busy in the garden very fast, so the best times to visit is before 11am and after 5pm, although you'll get the best light in the morning for photos.
Stay, Eat, and Drink
An exemplary celebration of history, beauty, and extravagance and the best restaurant + bar terrace on the Riviera. What started as a dozen terraced homes built on the cliffside on Èze over 400 years ago was transformed into the royal residence of the Prince of Sweden in the 20th century before being renovated into a luxury hotel. The attention to detail in the no-expenses-barred renovation is evident in every room, a Medieval castle fit for royalty with all the modern luxuries.
The Michelin-star restaurant offers a variety of cozy terraces overlooking the coast and delicious traditional French dishes. Reservations are required, and booked for months in advance. If you're feeling lucky and still want to experience Chateau Èza without any reservations, head to their bar terrace. The bar terrace has the same views as the restaurant, but without any possibility to make a reservation, your best bet is to arrive at minimum an hour before sunset to grab a table.
Rooms start at ~€380, Restaurant lunch/dinner starts at €60/person/€100/person, bar drinks and snacks start at €20.
Explore The Streets
The magic of staying overnight in Èze truly comes to light the morning after, when the village is empty, save for a few musicians and the residents. Walking the Medieval cobblestone streets just as the shops, art galleries, and cafes are opening to the sound of distant music truly transports you to a different time.
A rocky walking path down from Èze Village to the sea boasting coastal vistas and surrounded by rosemary, rose blossoms, and olive trees. The trails takes about 40 minutes to descend and at least an hour to return. The bottom of the path opens up into a beach, but there is also a hidden waterfall you can reach by taking a small trail marked by two square reservoirs that look like ruins.
Fragonard Perfume Factory Laboratory
Explore the creation of legendary perfume through the entire process of distilling oils, composing a scent, and manufacturing cosmetics. A lovely visit behind the scenes to learn how perfume is composed and see the tools of the trade in person.
How To Get To Èze + Parking
You can get to Èze from Nice by Bus, Bus + Train, Uber, or car. When staying overnight in Èze, both Chateau Èza and Chevre d'Or offer complimentary parking. If you're lucky and arrive either late or early in the day, you can grab a parking spot in the only parking available, across the street from La Villa d'Eze.
Video Walkthroughs Can Be Viewed on: