You feel a bit light-headed. There is a white mist all around you. Looking downward through the mist you see in the distance a deep blue sea simmering in the sun. Stationary goddesses looking out over the sea with a look of longing for something, or maybe just quiet contemplation surround you. Now you see sleepy villages below looking like jewels on a beach. Is that a harp you hear in the background? Or an angel singing? Or, wait, maybe you just heard the sound of the sky god Zeus proclaiming his latest conquest? Oops, wait a minute, get back to reality. You’re not in heaven. Or are you?
Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch, but one can’t help letting the imagination wander while strolling around perhaps what is the most beautiful, well-preserved Cote d’Azur hilltop village with the most fantastic panoramic views of the French Riviera. Come here to touch base with God, or with the stars, whatever, but do so quickly because soon a crowd of other hopeful visitors might push you along.
Eze is located about half way in between Nice and Monaco on the Cote d’Azur. Perched 429 meters (1400 feet) above sea level, this meticulously maintained medieval village of 3,000 or so inhabitants is one of the most famous and most visited of all the hilltop villages along this dazzling coast. The village is entered after a series of ramped passages, then through a dark and imposing single arched doorway, and then through a short enclosed passageway which opens onto a small square in which the visitor is welcomed with warm limestone encrusted buildings and narrow, winding cobblestone lanes lined with high end boutiques, gift shops, galleries, and artist studios. Tree-shaded cafes and restaurants provide a pleasant relief, and escape from all the commerce, and good pricey nourishment. Many building facades are covered in flowering vines and the residents decorate their widows with plants and artwork. Off to one side of the hill is the village church and courtyard. Although this baroque church’s exterior is somewhat subdued in complexity and design, its interior is delightful, and next door lies a lovely terraced cemetery with views to die for (please forgive me).
The final destination is the remains of a medieval castle at the top of the hilltop where 360 degree panoramic views keep visitors engaged and enthralled. If the views are not enough, the ruins are surrounded by the Jardin Exotique (Exotic Garden) consisting of a series of terraces cascading down from and around the ruins densely populated with all sorts of cacti, aloes and other exotic succulents, providing a surprisingly pleasant contrast to the village that lies just below. All this is punctuated with occasional life-size sculptures of maidens (goddesses) seemingly mesmerized by the vistas afforded them. You won’t want to leave this place, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself often looking out for the angels who must be hiding around there somewhere.