Just a short distance from Nice, after a dramatic and spectacular drive along the Moyenne Corniche road that alone make the trip worthwhile, lies the charming medieval town of Èze.
At 470 metres above sea level, Èze – frequently referred to as the eagle’s nest – is a picture-perfect village perché (perched village), with breathtaking views down below to the beautiful coastline.
The lovely streets and vaulted cover ways remind visitors of the original defensive purpose of these fortifications. The only danger of invasion Èze faces today is from the tourist onslaught during the summer season (we avoided this by visiting in the off-season and by getting here early in the day, and we felt as if we had the town to ourselves – at least for a while).
But throughout much of its history, this pretty, peaceful town was the subject of brutal attacks. The Moors invaded in the 10th century and stayed for 80 years. The “Moorish door” marking their entry survives to this day. In 1543 Èze was invaded by the infamous Barbarossa and his Ottoman fleet.
For today’s visitor, the winding cobblestoned streets are a pleasure to explore. There is a pretty church and a dramatic cemetery overlooking the valleys below.
Èze was a fashionable place to stay in the Belle époque. Artists, philosophers and European nobility all spent time in lovely Èze at the turn of the 20th century.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent time here in 1883. There is a path named after him, where he was said to often hike, that leads down to the sea. We hiked down this and it truly is stunning. Alas, my hike did not result in a book, as he claimed his hiking inspired him (Thus spoke Zarathoustra). Now at least in have a god excuse to come back and try again…
Unfortunately, Èze’s castle was destroyed in 1706 by order of King Louis XIV. Today, upon its ruins lies the pretty Jardin exotique (admission 3 euro, children free) with cacti from all over the world and unparalleled views over the coast.
Don’t miss out on a trip to the eagle’s nest – and the stunning views it affords – on your next visit to the French Riviera. Èze is an easy day trip from Nice on frequent public buses. The number 82 leaves from Nice’s bus station and makes the 20-minute trip to Èze village.
Alternatively you could stay in Èze. The silence must be lovely when the tourists leave at the day’s end.