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. I visited Eze as a day trip from Nice and highly recommend that you add it to your itinerary as well. So, for anyone considering visiting this medieval village, here are my top things to do in Eze, France.
About 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, France
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. If you don’t mind a bit of extra walking, you can get off early at the ‘bella vista’ which is a stunning viewpoint and great photo opportunity. To go back to Nice, 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.
If you like, you can also take the train from Nice, but it will take you to the beach, Eze sure Mer, which means you will have to hike up the steep hill to explore the town. I suggest you bus to Eze town and then take the train back if you want some beach time. I will discuss this in more detail below.
The Best Things to do in Eze, France
As I said above, Eze is quite small and there isn’t necessarily a ton of things to do in Eze. In my options, it’s best just to go, explore, and see you find. However, there are a few things that you shouldn’t miss on your day trip to 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. You’ll discover viewpoints, flower-filled courtyards, picturesque buildings, and more. Some of the prettiest photo opportunities are by the hotels which tend to have beautiful gates and, of course, many flowers. You can also take a peek into the Eglise Eze (the Eze Church), the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, and wander through the cemetery. Eze is quite small and you can easily explore these medieval streets in about 30 minutes, so there is no need to rush.
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.
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 (around 6 euro) but it’s worth it as visiting the Exotic Gardens are, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Eze. I just hope your view is a little less foggy than mine!
Have Lunch (or a drink) With a View
The views from the Jardin Exotique are the best, but it’s not the only viewpoint in Eze. As you wander through the streets you’ll find a few, but some of the best places to take in the surroundings are the terraces of Eze’s hotel restaurants. Now, to be clear, pricing here can be on the expensive side. However, if you are up for the experience then consider heading to Chateau Eza or Chateau de la Chevre d’Or to enjoy a meal, or just a drink, on the terrace.
Tour Eze’s Perfume Factories
Fragonard is a well known French perfumery with a location in Eze. If you like, there is a free guided tour where you will learn about the process of making the perfume. I did the tour at their location in Paris and really enjoyed it. You can also buy some perfume here if you like. It makes a great souvenir or gift for friends and family back home.
Another perfumery worth visiting in Eze is Galimard Perfumery. You can also see the perfume, as well as soap, production here.
Hike Down Nietzsche Path & Swim at the Beach
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 will take you about an hour to go down and while scenic, is quite steep. Locals told me not to do it since I was only wearing flipflops so if you are looking to hike Nietzsche Path definitely make sure to bring good running shoes!
Once you reach the beach you can swim so plan ahead and bring your swimsuit and a towel. Eze Beach is a rock beach, not a sand beach, but the water is a clear green-blue colour and it’s not nearly as crowded as the ones in Nice which makes it a nice place to stay for a couple of hours. Plus, if you prefer not to hike back up, you can take the train back. The stop is called Eze Sur Mer and is just a couple of minutes walk from the actual beach. It will take you directly back to Nice and it’s quicker than the bus.
Where to Stay in Eze
Personally, I recommend visiting Eze just as a day trip. It is tiny and touristic which means costs 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 for 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.