Èze, French Riviera

Èze is a commune in the Alpes-Maritimes department in southeastern France, approximately 12.5 kilometres from the city of Nice. Its inhabitants are called the Ezasques. Èze is one of the rare French municipalities to bear a palindrome name with Callac, Laval, Noyon, Sarras, Savas, Senones, Serres and Sées.

History
The area surrounding Èze was first populated around 2000 BC as a commune situated near Mount Bastide. The earliest occurrence of the name “Èze” can be found in the maritime books of Antonin as a bay called the St. Laurent of Èze. A hoard of ancient Greek silver phialae dating from the 3rd century BC was found in Èze in the late nineteenth century and is now part of the British Museum’s collection. The area was subsequently occupied by not only the Romans but also the Moors, who held the area for approximately 80 years until they were driven out by William of Provence in 973.

By 1388 Èze fell under the jurisdiction of the House of Savoy, who built up the town as a fortified stronghold because of its proximity to Nice. The history of Èze became turbulent several times in the next few centuries as French and Turkish troops seized the village under orders from Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1543, and Louis XIV destroyed the walls surrounding the city in 1706 in the war of the Spanish succession. Finally in April 1860, Èze was designated as part of France by unanimous decision by the people of Èze.

Èze has been described as an “eagle’s nest” because of its location overlooking a high cliff 427 metres (1,401 ft) above sea level on the French Mediterranean. It is so high that the light ochre church within (Notre Dame de l’Assomption built in 1764) can be seen from afar. An Egyptian cross inside the church suggests the village’s ancient roots, when the Phoenicians erected a temple there to honour the goddess Isis.

Traditionally, the territory of the Principality of Monaco was considered to begin in the Èze village (outskirts of Nice), running along the Mediterranean coast to Menton, on the present Italian border.

Sights

The upper Corniche

UK Grande Corniche
Justice Tableland. The walkers of all ages and levels will find on this tablelanda sylvester sports path 1400 m,where in the past rised the gallows of the Lords of Eze.
The Oppidum esplanade and Bastide hill. On this exceptional place, a panorama on the coast and also on the Paillon in Nice.

Fortification system
People measured very early the strategic interest of the Grande Corniche. As early as the Iron Age, the first inhabitants get together in the castellara in Mont Bastide, at 567m high. They stayed untill the VIst century. Very later, in the XVIIIth century, during the succession war of Austria in 1744, Austro-sardes (nowadays Piedmontese) erected an entrenched camp in the Simboula to repel the franco-spanish armies. Then in the XIXth century, the whole area was fortified between Var and Italy.In the park of the Grande Corniche, two fortresses were built: La Drète (1878 – 1883) and La Revère (1879 – 1885). Both belongs to a defensive line, the ancestor of Maginot Line: the Séré de Rivières ‘ system.

This name comes from the general Raymond Séré de Rivières. This graduate of the Ecole polytechnique was born in Albi in 1818, and was very early spotted for its competence in the fortification subject.

UK Mont Bastide
Local people (Ligurian then Celto-ligurian people according to Greek and Latin, after having merged with Celts from North-East) are designed like rough, brave and good warriors in the first century according to Diodore of Sicilia and Strabon. From the VIst century BC erected they different four-cornered and circular structures made of big blocks: the “Castellaras”.

The region counts several castellaras, but the one of Mont Bastide in the Grande Corniche is one of the most preserved and famous because the different excavation’ campaigns since the XIXth c., notably in the 50’s with the commandant Octobon and then with Pascal Arnaud, history and archeology professor on roman time in the faculty of Nice, who had devoted several campaigns from 1998 to 2001.

The village and exotic garden

The Church
Built on the foundations of a twelfth-century church, the church of Eze Village a neo-classical eighteenth century building, is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The building has been classified as historical monuments in December 5th, 1984.

The church was rebuilt, replacing the previous one which was in ruins, between 1764 and 1778 by the Italian architect Antoine Spinelli, because of Duke Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy wish. It was consecrated in 1772.

Medieval village
The atmospheric medieval village is famous for its beauty and charm. It is dominated by the ruins of the castle of the 12th century and consists in narrow, winding streets and the baroque church is worth a visit. Its many shops, art galleries, hotels and restaurants attract a large number of tourists and honeymooners. As a result Èze has become dubbed by some a village-musée, a “museum village”, as few residents of local origin live here. From Èze there are gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Jardin Exotique
The Jardin botanique d’Èze, also called the Jardin exotique d’Èze or simply the Jardin d’Èze, is a botanical garden located on the Place du Général de Gaulle in Èze, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France. Set on the ruins of the 12th century castle, this garden offers a beautiful panorama on the coast. €6, 2€ for students and groups.

The garden was created after World War II on a chateau’s ruins by town mayor André Gianton and Jean Gastaud of the Jardin Exotique de Monaco. It is sited on steep terrain falling over 400 meters to the sea with panoramic views of the coast, and known for its impressive collection of cactus and succulents from the Mediterranean region, Africa, and the Americas.

Plants
The collection of cactus of the garden allows to get to know the diversity of the world of the cactus. Echinocactus grusonii is probably one of the most known because of its globular shape scattered of spines which has the nickname of “mother-in-law cushion”. The other cactus very familiar to the visitors is the Opuntia and in particular Opuntia Ficus usually called “prickly pear”. Under the name of “nopal”, the pre-Coloumbian gathered many Opuntias with pricly pear in the garden: O. mycrodasys, O. bergeriana… They took the pulp of the peickly pear without thorns and mixed it with honey to make some creams for the skin.

You can admire also other kinds of plants such as the Neobuxmaunia Polylopha and the Trichocereus Pasacana with their large white flower.

Eze Seaside
Sheltered from the swell by the peninsula of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, Eze take advantage of the microclimate for a luxurious mediterranean vegetation.The alleys called Cigale, Oeillets and Provence reveal the kindness of the climate and the gentle way of life.

The pink facades and ocher of villas in the middle of a luxurious vegetation where there are bananas trees, stand out against the blue sea. The wistenia, jasmine and the bougainvillea extend beyond the barriers and portals. The lemon trees, bigaradier and mandarine trees which give the famous small mandarine of Eze, perfume all the paths.

The alleys with evocative names of cicadas, carnations and Provence reveal the mild climate and the sweetness of life of Eze Bord de Mer.

Summer resort located on the Basse Corniche, from Cap Estel to the east, to the cove of St-Laurent to the west. A pleasant shaded beach with wild aspects that have become rare on the Côte d’Azur. Quiet place of residence buried under a rich Mediterranean vegetation, enjoying an exceptional microclimate.

Places and monuments
Civil buildings
The village offers within its labyrinthine alleys, many art craft shops.
The Nietzsche path starting from the seaside, winds on a steep slope to the hilltop village. It is said that Nietzsche, living at the end of his life in Nice, sick, frequented this path, and was inspired by it to write the third part of Thus spoke Zarathustra.
Nearby is the Castellar or Brasca oppidum, listed as a historic monument in 1996.
Eget Gibet

Military heritage:
A ruined castle now houses an exotic garden with an extraordinary view, and overlooks a cemetery where some personalities rest.
Fort Anselme, then Fort de la Revère, from Place de Nice.
Series of 4 blockhouses called casemates on the Place de Nice.

Castle houses:
House called Château de Aiguetta.
Château Lou Seuil or Château Balsan.
House called Château Eza.

Rural heritage:
Water mill: old flour mill of Pissarelles.

Religious buildings
Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Eze, rebuilt in the xviii th century, classified in 1984 as historical monuments.
Sainte-Croix chapel, former chapel of the White Penitents, restored in 1953.
Chapel Avenue Poincare xi th century former priory, located in Saint-Laurent-d’Eze.
Saint-François chapel, avenue des Fleurs in Èze by the sea.
Saint-Joseph chapel, Aiguetta district.
Chapel of Saint-Laurent-d’Eze.
Memorials: War memorial and commemorative plaque.

Traffic
The commune is mainly crossed from West to East by 3 roads:

The “route du bord de mer” (sea-side road) or “Basse corniche” running along the whole coast of the département, passes through Èze-sur-Mer.
Èze village is located on the road called “Moyenne corniche” (M6007), also known as a part of the “Route nationale 7” (the Holiday Route, running from Paris to Italy). As its name says, it runs halfway on the mountain-side.
The “Grande corniche” (D 2564; called avenue des diables bleus on the portion over Èze village) runs on top of the ridge between Nice and Menton.

By train
Èze-sur-mer station. This station is located in Eze-sur-Mer and is a stop of the line running along the coast (with stops in Nice, Monaco and Ventimiglia among others). Note that not all trains stop there. The trains can be packed during commuting hours. (updated Jun 2015 | edit)

By bus
Bus number 82 departs from the bus station Vauban in the East of Nice and has a stop in Èze, seven days a week (1 bus/hour, less on Sunday). The station Vauban is located on the route of Nice’s tramway.

By bike
There are some good climbs on the portion on the sea-side road between Nice and Monaco: a 100m high one at Villefranche (on the West, next to Nice) and two others on the East side around Cap d’Ail. So be prepared to some effort or take your time. Not a good route for the heavy vélos bleus (Nice city bikes).

The road to Èze village and the Grand corniche can be considered as a sporty ride, given their respective altitudes (350m and 550m).

Get around
A long steep footpath, the Chemin de la Mer, connects the seaside town with the village proper. The walk downhill (from Èze to Eze-sur-Mer) takes 45 minutes. But if your want to do the route by car you will have to make a detour. There is a direct road from Èze village to the grande corniche.

French Riviera
The French Riviera is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France. There is no official boundary, but it is usually considered to extend from Cassis, Toulon or Saint-Tropez on the west to Menton at the France–Italy border in the east, where the Italian Riviera joins. The coast is entirely within the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. The Principality of Monaco is a semi-enclave within the region, surrounded on three sides by France and fronting the Mediterranean. Riviera is an Italian word that corresponds to the ancient Ligurian territory, wedged between the Var and Magra rivers.

The climate of the Côte d’Azur is temperate Mediterranean with mountain influences on the northern parts of the departments of Var and Alpes-Maritimes. It is characterized by dry summers and mild winters which help reduce the likelihood of freezing. The Côte d’Azur enjoys significant sunshine in mainland France for 300 days a year.

This coastline was one of the first modern resort areas. It began as a winter health resort for the British upper class at the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century, it became the playground and vacation spot of British, Russian, and other aristocrats, such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II and King Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales. In the summer, it also played home to many members of the Rothschild family. In the first half of the 20th century, it was frequented by artists and writers, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon, Edith Wharton, Somerset Maugham and Aldous Huxley, as well as wealthy Americans and Europeans. After World War II, it became a popular tourist destination and convention site. Many celebrities, such as Elton John and Brigitte Bardot, have homes in the region.

The eastern part (maralpine) of the Côte d’Azur has been largely transformed by the concreting of the coast linked to the tourist development of foreigners from North Europe and the French,. The Var part is better preserved from urbanization with the exception of the agglomeration of Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël affected by the demographic growth of the maralpin coast and the agglomeration of Toulon which has been marked by urban sprawl on its part West and by a spread of industrial and commercial areas (Grand Var).

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