The view of the Mediterranean from the hillside village of Eze is wonderful. I wonder what the room rates are at the villa on the picture at the right? Whatever they are, I am sure they might be rightfully charging extra for the view!
The village sits like an eagle's nest on a large rock 400 meters above the sea. There's a trail down to Eze-sur-Mer, but it will take you over an hour to hike from the village on high down to the sea, and no telling how long to hike back up! Our shore excursion bus was the first to arrive the day we visited. This early arrival meant we missed the crowds that plague the tiny village later each day. The path from the parking area up into the village is quite strenuous, and I was worried about some of the elderly passengers in our group. The guide took us slowly along the narrow stony paths up to the garden (Jardin Exotique) at the top of the rock. Even if you are without a guide, you will be able to find the garden easily. All paths going uphill will eventually lead you to the top where the panoramic garden is located. Some of our group took their time and meandered along the small streets, finding their own way up to the garden. We didn't lose anyone!
When we arrived at the garden, the view was well worth the arduous climb. The garden was filled with different varieties of cacti and other exotic plants. Since we were there in the spring, many were blooming. We wandered around the garden, marveling at the unusual variety of flora and resting from the climb up the hill. One word of caution. If you are not on a tour that includes entrance to the garden, you will have to pay a small fee to enter the garden. This isn't much, but if you've climbed all that way with no money, it would be disappointing to miss the panoramic view from the garden at the top.
While walking the paths of Eze, you can easily see that it was once surrounded a 12th century fortified castle. The castle was torn down in 1706, but the village remains, and forms a circular pattern around the base of the castle. I thought the villagers had done an excellent job of restoring the old buildings. Many of the residents are now artisans, and shoppers can spend a lot of time wandering in and out of the cave-like shops. There are also some perfumeries, and a wonderful aromatic selection of spices for sale. I purchased a water color of Eze from a local artist, and got him to sign it for me. It was inexpensive, and of course the framing back home cost more than the painting. However, it will always serve as a visual reminder of our few hours in Eze!
If you have been to Eze or if your stopover doesn't include a day trip to Eze, you might want to visit the medieval French village of St. Paul de Vence, which is inland from the French Riviera. St. Paul sits high on a hill much like Eze, but doesn't have the sea views.