The French Riveria is a beautiful part of France to visit. There’s no shortage of charming coastal towns here and after spending a week based in Nice, I enjoyed exploring a few of them. However, without a doubt, my favourite was the cliff-side village of Eze. For anyone considering visiting this medieval village, here are my top things to do in Eze, France.
Eze, which has also been named the Eagles Nest because of its location, dates back as far as 2000 BC. The land was occupied by both the Romans and the Moors over the years, and was fortified by the House of Savoy in the late 1300s.
Eze has a tumultuous history and today is considered to be a museum town. This means that very few locals actually live here. Instead, the village is made up mostly of restaurants, hotels, and shops as it is a popular destination among tourists.
Eze is quite small so, when it comes down to it, there really aren’t a lot of things to actually do in Eze. The highlight of this medieval village is just exploring on your own time. It’s not a place to visit with a checklist, but rather a place to just enjoy the atmosphere and views.
How to Get to Eze
Eze is an easy day trip (or even half day trip) from Nice. If you have rented a car and drive it will take about an hour to get there. You can also easily grab a local bus, although the trip tends to be a bit longer given stops (and traffic).
From the Gare Routiere in Nice, you will take bus 82. The bus typically runs about once an hour but can be early/late so give yourself some time. Download and check the Moovit App ahead of time to get the current schedule.
Bus 82 will take you directly to the base of the hill that Eze is built on. To go back, take the same bus in the opposite direction. Insider tip: try to get a window seat on the sea side because the views from this bus ride are spectacular.
Things to do in Eze
As I said above, Eze doesn’t have a ton of things to do. It’s best just to go and see what you get up to. But, there are still a few things you shouldn’t miss. Here is how I think you can best experience Eze.
Explore the Narrow Streets
What makes Eze so charming is that is truly looks like a fairytale village perched on a hill. This is because of all the historic buildings and cobblestone streets. So just take your time to explore. You’ll disover viewpoints, flower-filled courtyards, picturesque buildings, a histori church, and more. Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged, because you’ll no doubt take a lot of photos.
Visit the Jardin Exotique (Exotic Gardens)
Considered the highlight or the main attraction of Eze, the Jardin Exotique is located at the very top of the village, perched on the tip of the mountain overlooking the sea. The greenery plus the views make this the perfect place to sit and relax for a little bit (especially after climbing to the top!). There are a couple of shaded areas with chairs for you to enjoy but please make sure to bring some water as it can get incredibly hot up here. Note that there is a small fee to enter.
Take in the Views
The views from the Jardin Exotique are the best, but it’s not the only viewpoint in Eze. As you wander up the streets you’ll find a few, but some of the best places to take in the surroundings are the terraces of some of Eze’s hotel restaurants. So, if you want to stop for lunch or are feeling thirsty, consider heading to Chateau Eza or Chateau de la Chebre d’Or and enjoy a break on their terrace.
Check out the Shops and Galleries
Eze is very much a tourist town, so there are plenty of little shops, boutiques, and galleries. From clothing to souvenirs and knickknacks, artwork and more, there’s plenty to look at, even if you don’t buy. If you love perfume, be sure to check out the Fragonard shop which also offers free (and interesting!) tours.
Named after a German Philosopher, Nietzsche’s path is a steep but scenic trail that starts by the beach and then climbs all the way up to the village which is 427 meters above sea level. It’s quite the hike, so you’ll definitely need to wear proper shoes if you plan on doing this. I was told by the locals it would be very dangerous in my flipflips, so I passed on this hike.
Where to Stay in Eze
Personally, I recommend visiting Eze just as a day trip. It is tiny and touristic which means prices for meals and accommodation can get pretty pricey. However, if you decide you would lie to spend the night in this fairytale village, here are a few options on where to stay in Eze.
Tip: Eze’s hotels book up quickly since there are so few actually in the village. So make sure to book in advance if you have your heart set on spending a night here!
Final Tips for Visiting Eze, France
- Plan your visit around the weather. You need a clear day to enjoy the views, so if it’s cloudy or foggy at all, it’s not worth paying the fee into the gardens as you won’t get the famous view. When I visited some clouds were moving in making it difficult to see, and by the time I left you couldn’t see a thing.
- You probably won’t need to spend a full day here- you can easily see the highlights in half a day. So, if you are concerned with time, you can pair Èze in a day trip with another coastal village (ie Villefranche for an afternoon at the beach) or, go early in the morning for a couple of hours and spend the rest of the day in Monaco which is nearby.
- To save money, grab lunch by the bus stop. The restaurants in the village itself are incredibly expensive and not great for budget travellers. I waited until I was done then stopped in at a little café by the bus stop where I grabbed a crepe for only a couple euros.
- Don’t believe the bus schedule: Time is clearly not of the essence in the French Riviera. It is very common for busses to be late, or sometimes not show at all. Use the bus schedule as a general guideline but don’t plan anything important around it.
A Note on Travel Insurance in France
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine multiple times. While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance as they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found, plus, they are who I use and I have had great experiences with them. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.