‘When is the rescue boat coming to pick us up?’
Those were the words from my dad when we turned up at Eze for the first time. Sat on the beach on a December morning, the place was deserted and there was no sign of the picturesque village I’d seen in photos online. You see, what we didn’t know, was that the train station where we got off ‘Eze-Sur-Mer’ and the medieval village of ‘Vieux Eze’ are completely separate and the thing standing in between them was a mountain of 427m above sea level. After a quick look up the mountain and a glance down at my shoes (always the queen of poor footwear choices, I had chosen to wear my heeled boots the day we were spending in the mountains) and it was clear that today was not the day to be exploring Eze. Instead, we spent a little bit of time on the beach at Eze-Sur-Mer (a nice beach, don’t get me wrong, but nothing to write home about – the main attraction here is definitely the old village up in the mountains) and then we caught the train to Beaulieu-Sur-Mer.
I took the train back to Eze the following week (wearing much more suitable footwear this time) and made the hike up ‘Neitzsche Path’ to the village. This is a steep path up the mountain which you can find if you turn right out of the train station, up a small hill and past ‘Villa Marguerite’. It is named after the german philosopher ‘Friedrich Nietzsche’ who’s poem ‘‘also sprach zarathustra” is thought to be inspired by his walk on this path. It is a challenging walk and almost completely uphill so you do need to be relatively fit to be able to enjoy it. According to an app on my phone, I climbed 374m in 2.5km and it took me 38 minutes so it is quite an intense hike; I was definitely feeling it when I reached the top! The ground is often quite stony and steep but the views are amazing and it sure does get your blood pumping! It’s very easy to follow (just keep heading up!) – the only area you could potentially get stuck is at the end when the path splits into two so make sure you head right to get into the village.
If you don’t fancy this, then fear not; there are other ways to get up the mountain which involve much less physical work! Just like the train, don’t be mislead into thinking the #100 bus takes you to Eze as it actually drops you off at Eze-Sur-Mer (meaning you will have to take the hike!) Instead, get the bus #112 or #82 from Nice which will take you direct to the village.
Once I had made it to the village (hallelujah!) I was feeling tired and very out of breath and all I could keep thinking was ‘thank goodness I didn’t do this the other day in my heels!’ My first mission was to find a drink and somewhere to sit down so I headed through ‘The Poterne’ (basically the gate into the village) in search of a café. I’d read great reviews on ‘Château Eza’ which offers fantastic panoramic views of the mountain but I had also heard it was slightly on the pricier side and for me and my au pair budget, this made it a no no. Instead, I found a small little café named ‘The Deli Salad Bar and Olive Oil Shop’ where I bought a croissant with jam and a coke for €7.70. Just what I needed after the hike uphill.
The old village of Eze is a medieval village nestled high in the mountains. I could almost imagine the knights and soldiers marching down the small alleyways and across the stoned floors. There are no houses in the old village but only small boutique shops and cafés with no cars either. It really is so picturesque and I couldn’t resist but to keep snapping away! For this reason, however, it was quite a tourist honeypot, even in the beginning of December. I would recommend visiting early if you are coming in the high season as the larger amounts of people may detract from the ancient charm of the village.
If you are visiting Eze, you really can’t leave without taking a trip to ‘Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze’. This botanical garden offers sensational panoramic views over the Cote D’Azur and mountains aswell as featuring plants including aloe vera and cacti. I particularly enjoyed the large seats over the water which are really relaxing and offer great views (wander around the garden and you are sure to find them!) The entrance fee to get into the garden is €4 but I managed to use my student discount which made it €3.50. I thought it was worth every penny and would say the gardens are unmissable if you are visiting Eze – you can’t put a price on those views!
Another popular attraction in Eze is ‘L’Église Notre Dame de l’Assomption’. It’s a church built in 1764 which is open to the public for free. Inside, the architecture is stunning and a good way to pass 10 minutes or so.
In total, I spent a few hours exploring Eze before I felt ready to make the journey back down the mountain (a much easier task than climbing up I’ll tell you that!). Is it bad that I felt a little smugness as I watched people trekking up the hill and knowing that I had already completed the difficulty? Overall, I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Eze Old Town if you’re looking for views and plenty of photo opportunities – just bare in mind how you’re planning to get there if you don’t fancy a hike!