Èze is less than ten miles away from Nice, France, but it can feel like a completely different world. Èze bills itself as “The Village of Art and Gastronomy”, and it’s easy to see why this medieval fortified village adopted that nickname. The winding stone streets are dotted with hidden Michelin-starred restaurants, former chateaux, creative art galleries, boutique perfumeries and historic monuments dating back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Èze is an easy day trip from Nice, and can be explored in a full day or a half day (depending on how leisurely you lunch!). At minimum, plan for three hours in the village just for sightseeing, and more time if you want to sit down for a meal, tour one of the perfume factories or do any serious shopping.
Things to Do in Èze, France
On your way into Èze, stop at the Tourist Information Office and pick up a free map of the city, which is marked with the street names and the locations of the main monuments. There are also clean public toilets here. From the tourist information office, ascend the stairs and walk across Place du Centenaire to reach the Poterne, a stone archway that marks the entrance to the historic center.
Explore the Medieval Village
The Èze Village that we can visit today primarily dates back to the late 1300s, when the region was under the control of the House of Savoy (the diamond in their dynasty was the ring of lavish castles they built around one of my favorite Italian cities, Turin). Borders at the time weren’t as clearly defined as they are are today, and for centuries France, the Savoys and even the Turks fought for control of this village. In the early 1700s, Louis XIV (yes, the man behind Versailles) ordered Èze’s fortified town walls to be torn down, leaving the village vulnerable until it officially joined France in 1860.
If you follow the main street, Rue Principal, it will lead you through the village. Along the way you’ll pass former castles (now converted into hotels, see below if you want to stay overnight), quaint squares, historic fountains, climbing vines and several small churches. Old stone houses have been converted to art galleries and boutiques selling local wares. Plan to spend about an hour just wandering through town, and never hesitate to turn down a small alley or climb that hidden flight of stairs!
Visit the Exotic Garden
The highest point in Èze Village is the Jardin Exotique, or Exotic Garden. This used to be an ancient fortress, from which residents could watch for signs of any incoming invaders, but all that is left of the fortifications are crumbling ruins. From the panoramic terrace at the top of the gardens you will have the best views of the Cote d’Azur in the region, making this a must-see stop on your trip to Èze.
The gardens open at 9:00 am daily, and close between 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm, depending on the season. Tickets cost €6, and I recommend buying them from the vending machines you’ll pass in the street on your way to the gardens, as this will save you from having to queue at the entrance. Just make sure to take both your ticket(s) and receipt from the machine before you walk away!
Aside from the great viewpoint, Èze’s Jardin Exotique is roughly split into two sections: one featuring desert fauna, and the other featuring plants more typical to the Mediterranean climate. You’ll want to spend about 45 to 60 minutes in the gardens, which were created in partnership with the same gardener who established the Exotic Gardens in nearby Monaco.
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Hike the Chemin de Nietzche
The village of Èze is perched high above the seashore, and in my opinion it’s best reached by car or bus. However, Friedrich Nietzsche would disagree with me, as he found some of his most potent inspiration by walking the rugged trail between Èze Village (on the cliff) and Èze-sur-Mer (on the seashore).
Today, the trail that connects the village and the sea has been renamed in honor of the German philosopher. It takes about an hour to hike up the trail, or forty minutes to hike down, if you’re an experienced hiker. Add more time (and more water!) if you’re out of practice. En route you can detour to a small waterfall, and if you’re hiking down, you can cool off with a dip in the sea at the bottom (no such luck at the top).
The top trailhead is beside the gates to the Chemin d’Or hotel and restaurant, and at the bottom it’s about 200 meters east of the Èze-sur-Mer train station. Hiking shoes are recommended – definitely do not attempt this trail in sandals.
Visit a Perfume Factory in Èze
Although Grasse is indisputably the perfume capital of France, Èze offers visitors several opportunities to learn more about the art of perfumery. If you don’t have the time to get out to Grasse, spending an hour or two at Èze’s perfumeries is the perfect compromise, especially for anyone whose interest is only casual. Choose between a visit to Fragonard or Galimard… or both!
Most touristy cities in France will have at least one Fragonard shop. This French perfume brand dates back to 1926, and is known for offering a balance of quality and affordability (making Fragonard scents perfect gifts for your friends and family back home). In Èze, the Fragonard shop holds a secret: hidden behind the storefront is one of their production facilities, and it is open to the public. You don’t need a reservation to join one of the free factory tours, which are available in English and French.
On the other hand, Galimard has only three shops and three factories, making the brand much more exclusive to the South of France. The free guided tour is similar to that offered at Fragonard, however their Èze location also offers a much more unique experience: a perfume-making workshop where you blend your own custom scent. Unlike some other perfume-making experiences in France where you have a limited note library to work with, at Galimard you have full access to their library of 127 notes as you craft your custom scent. You’ll need to book this well in advance, at the link above.
In case you’re curious, my favorite perfume from Fragonard is Belle de Soleil (€46 for 200 ml!), and my favorite perfume from Galimard is their Collection Privée Oud Vanille (€220 for 100 ml!). As you can see, there’s a significant price difference between the two houses!
Hotels in Èze, France
The most famous hotel in Èze is La Chèvre d’Or, a five-star luxury hotel that is popular with celebrities during the Cannes film festival (but that is surprisingly affordable in the shoulder season!). The perfect splurge for a special occasion, La Chèvre d’Or is situated in the historic center of Èze, in a restored medieval castle. The hotel’s on-site restaurant has two Michelin stars, and the two outdoor pools have unparalleled Mediterranean views.
If luxury isn’t in your budget but you still want to stay overnight in a hotel in Èze, I would suggest starting your search with these properties:
- Hotel Arc en Ciel – Located at the entrance to Èze Village, this is is a small, no-frills hotel that is perfect if you just need a place to sleep.
- Chateau Eza – Another upscale property in Èze, this boutique hotel has the town’s second-highest vantage point, offering spectacular views from the rooms and restaurant terrace
- La Perle d’Eze – For a longer stay in Èze, rooms in this apart-hotel have kitchenettes with a fridge, stovetop, microwave, kettle and more. Pick up groceries in Nice and then come back here to enjoy your meals on a private terrace with views of the sea or the town.
Restaurants in Èze, France
Èze is best-known for its two Michelin-starred restaurants: La Table de Patrick Raingeard in the Hotel Cap Estel (one star) and the restaurant at La Chèvre d’Or (two stars). Book online, well in advance, if you want to have a special meal at either. Otherwise, there are several other restaurants in Èze, including these that are worth a highlight:
- Deli’ – As its name suggests, this is a little deli in Èze that is popular for its salads, sandwiches and desserts. It’s perfect for a light lunch or a mid-day snack.
- Le Cactus Èze Village – An affordable restaurant serving salads, burgers and grilled meats. They also do typical French breakfasts starting at €12, if you’re in Èze in the morning.
- Restaurant Le Mas Provençal – If you need some new content for your Instagram feed, this upscale restaurant at the end of town is certainly Insta-worthy, as its small rooms literally overflow with fresh flowers. They’re only open in the high season and the set menu (starting at €118) is based on whatever is fresh at the time of your visit.
How to Get to Èze from Nice
I recommend driving up to Èze in your orange Lamborghini. If it happens to be in the shop, however, it’s also very easy to take the bus from Nice to Èze.
Buses #82 and #112 travel from Nice’s Vauban bus station along Rue Barla and then out of the city to Èze Village. Service is relatively infrequent (there could be up to 90 minutes between buses) so plan your route in advance using either Google Maps or the Lignes d’Azur website.
Tickets cost €1.50 and the route is included in your daily or weekly pass if you’ve gone that route (personally I bought the €15 weekly pass as I was in Nice for eight days). The bus from Nice to Èze Village takes about forty minutes.
Don’t be tempted to take Bus #100, which runs from Nice to Monaco (and back). Although this is a beautiful bus ride, it doesn’t go up the hill to the village. Instead, this bus stops at Èze-sur-Mer, which is a strenuous one-hour hike away from the hilltop village. If Monaco is on your itinerary, I have a complete guide to day trips to Monaco from Nice.
I don’t recommend driving to Èze, as the parking is extremely limited and typically fills up very early in the morning.
(In case you’re wondering, that Lamborghini was on its way to La Chèvre d’Or. I literally held my breath as the hotel’s valet tried to maneuver the Lamborghini around the tight turn in front of the hotel’s gates, narrowly avoiding a Rolls-Royce that was also trying to visit at the same time!)
I recently spent two months exploring the South of France. Check out my France Page for guides to all of the places I visited and secret tips for making the most of your trip to France.
I also have a new guide to all the best day trips from Nice (including Èze, of course!).
And, like always, if you have any questions about visiting Èze, let me know in the comments below!
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