The village of Èze dates back to 2000 BC and is full of charming buildings, winding narrow streets and beautiful views. Part of it is dominated by the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption church and courtyard. At the very top of the village is the Jardin Botanique d’Èze, where on a good day the views over the terracotta tiled rooftops stretch to Corsica. The Côte d’Azur stretches out below the fairly extensive gardens with cacti, succulents and sculptures of maidens emerging from the earth. These 12 earth goddess sculptures by French artist Jean-Philippe Richard can be found in amongst the stunning Mediterranean flora, their views some of the best on the Riviera. It’s worth the admission fee even if you don’t know a succulent from a succubus.
Walking around the tight cobbled streets, it often feels like you’re intruding in someone’s home. Many of the shops are so tiny that business is conducted in the pathway. Behind half-open doors, all manner of activities are glimpsed or imagined. A waiter with a tray of still-hot croissants emerges in front of us and waits patiently as a tour party clears a steep set of stairs before darting down them and back in another doorway.
Nestled in amongst all this and taking up almost an entire side of the village is the five-star Château de la Chèvre d’Or (Castle of the Golden Goat) hotel. It has a range of unusual exhibitions including an actual golden goat amongst other fauna such as elephants, giraffes and crocodiles, which can be seen for the substantial price of a room. Or you could just peer over the wall as we did.
Isis Moriendo Renascor (In death I am reborn)The motto of the Èze
Èze is one the tourist hotspots on the Riviera and even in the early morning you can find yourself caught up with a tour party that’s stopping and blocking the way to receive a description of whatever it is they’re looking at. It’s not something you can readily avoid; we visited early two consecutive April mornings before 9am and one was quiet while the other had three coachloads fighting to get around. It’s the kind of place you can visit more than once though, and you can always try to wait the crowds out with one of those hot croissants and a cappuccino in one of the secluded cafés.