This small town has been likened to an eagle’s nest perched on a narrow rocky peak. I must admit that very little research was done before I made this short visit. However, I shall note a few interesting facts before we get started. There is proof of settlement in Eze dating back to the Iron Age even though the first records of the name are not until the 4th century. The highest point (at 429 meters above sea level) is graced with the ruins of a 12th century castle that had been torn down in 1706.
My end location for the day was Monaco, for the last practice day before the Grand Prix. I knew that I could visit Eze on the way, so I double checked the bus. The No.82 or No.112 would take me to Eze village in just 20 minutes. It was a packed out bus and many people had the same idea as me. However, none of us knew which stop it was, but decided that Eze Village had to be the correct one (the name kinda gives it away!).
My first stop, as ever, was the tourist office to get a much needed map and information about this historic village. After having studied the map and not really being able to make head or tail of it I just decided to climb upwards. I knew there was a Cactus Garden at the top. So off I went, up the road, then the road stopped and turned into a rather narrow stone stairway. At this point I began to get the feel of this place. I loved that there were no cars in the village, the narrow stone streets had high stone walls and dinky little doorways and arches. It really felt like stepping back through time… Apart from the abundance of the token tourist shops and cafés. But even these had their own charm factor. Most of the shops were on the ground floor of the buildings that had either been used for holding small livestock or cellars in days gone by.
I carried on walking upwards, getting lost along the way, as all the streets seem to blend into one. Eventually after a couple of wrong turns I found the entrance to the Cactus Gardens. Now I must mention at this point along the way within the village, I had not seen much of the view due to the stone walls blocking my vision. After having paid my entry fee, I stumbled through the turnstile and was greeted with the most amazing view. This sounds like a total cliché but I really was just mesmerized by the vista.
The Garden itself I found rather enchanting. There are many different ranges of cactus from all over the world. There are information points dotted around with French and an English translation. If you are looking for the perfect holiday snaps I would definitely advise visiting this place. The weather did come in after a little while and it got rather chilly so I decided to meander my way back into the ancient village and explore what the little streets had to offer; cafés, little tourist shops and art galleries. One word of warning, if you enter the gift shops be ready for the owner doing a hard sales. I got stuck in a jewelry shop for a good half hour with the sales woman trying her best to get me to part with my precious lunch money!
Once I had had my fill of the quirky village, I decided to have a wander around the base of the hill. There was the opportunity to hike down to the lower village of Eze-Sur-Mer but I admit I was not wearing the correct footwear for the very rocky looking path. Instead, I found myself heading into the famous Fragonard perfumery and partaking in a tour of the factory, which just so happened to be free. Afterwards, I camped out in one of the numerous cafes until the bus came along to whisk me away to Monaco.