If you’ve heard of the French Riviera then the names Monaco and Cannes likely ring a bell. In today’s post, I want to put the spotlight on the middle sibling of the two cities, the one that doesn’t get as much attention and is often overshadowed by the fame and hustle of its popular counterparts. I want to tell you about Eze, a petite hilltop village overlooking the spectacular Cote d’Azur from a birds-eye view, 1,400ft above sea level.
I stumbled upon Eze by accident in 2015 – my Uber driver recommended it to me when I asked him for advice on places to see near Nice. Eze is perched on a hill in between Nice and Monaco. You can get there conveniently by car or you can take the coastal train to Eze and then a short bus ride up (bus 82 stop uphill to Jardin Exotique). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can do a 45 minute hike to the top. I recommend taking the bus or cab up and walking down via the Nietzsche Path.
Quick vocabulary break: Friedrich Nietzsche is a well known (and highly controversial) philosopher, poet and scholar. His worked touched upon topics like history, religion, culture, science and more. Nietzsche was one of the most vital and influential modern thinkers in the world. Nietzsche lived in Eze in the 1880’s and was charmed by his surroundings (quite easy to see why once you’re there). “I slept well, I laughed a lot, and I found a marvelous vigor and patience,” Nietzsche recalled about his short holiday stay in Eze.
I remember walking into Eze like I’ve been transported into a magical fairytale. I still feel that way when I visit. In fact, I’ve been back to Eze 6 times since 2015. The roads are cobblestone, there small art galleries are scattered around the town and hidden in alleyways, and there is greenery … everywhere. Trees, flowers, bushes and I haven’t even reached Jardin Exotique yet (more on that soon). I asked one of the shop owners to recommend a place for a crisp glass of rosé. “Château Eza,” he said, before I even finished my sentence.
It seemed as though I was getting lucky with recommendations that day, so I took my chances and walked up the cobblestone road. And there it was. It is a sight that I will never forget and surely I started to slobber on my chin because I quickly reached for a napkin. Château Eza is not just another 5-star property, it has a wealthy history of well over 400 years which will leave you just as speechless as this view. Château Eza started as somewhat of a royal sanctuary after Prince William of Sweden bought out the handful of small homes that make up the property today. He loved Eze so much during his first visit with his father that he soon returned and bought it out: it became known as “The Prince of Sweden’s Castle.”
The property is tiny: there are only 12 rooms, each decorated in a unique way and many with private balconies and terraces. Nothing says luxury like a private staircase to access your villa, a four-poster bed and a private terrace overlooking what I think is easily the most pristine view in the world. There is also a Michelin starred restaurant which offers sweeping panoramic views of Cote d’Azur. Of all the hotels in Cote d’Azur, I’d say that this is the most multi-faceted and spectacular property by far.
My recommendation is to save Château Eza for an extraordinary occasion: it is a very special property and it should be treated accordingly. In the off-peak winter months you can reserve it for as little as $200 a night, which is exponentially less than the average price during other seasons. If you ever find yourself in the area for a short day trip, visit Château Eza for lunch just for a drink – you won’t regret it.
Just a few minutes walking from Chateau Eza is Jardin Exotique d’Eze or The Exotic Garden of Eze. It is located on the site of a medieval fortress 429 meters above sea level and features numerous species of succulent plants and xerophytes from all the continents.* The views from up there are well worth the visit and the plethora of plants simply add to the experience.
Château Eza is my favorite property to date. The hospitality is immaculate, the location is unparalleled, the food is incredible, the history is wealthy and overall it is a force to be reckoned with. I hope you love it as much as I do.