Up in the Clouds: An Afternoon in Éze
After a week long conference, my brain is fried and I can't keep my head out of the clouds.. which typically has me day dreaming about all past and future travel excursions. So at the risk of being tastelessly punny: these 'up in the clouds' day dreams inspired me to write about an amazing afternoon 1500ft above Nice, France - literally in the clouds - in the medieval town of Éze.
The quaint town has roots that date back to 2000BC and, like any region of Europe, it has many different groups that have called it home, including the Greeks, the Romans, the Moors, and the House of Savoy. It wasn't until the French seized the city in the 1500s that it became a majority French province, and became officially French in 1806. Today, it somewhat marks the border between France and the Principality of Monaco.
From Nice, the boyfriend and I rented a Vespa and drove up the coast to this small village high in the mountains. We rented our Vespa from here for 35 euros per day, plus helmets and gloves for a total of 48 euros. The owner of the shop was super helpful and gave us a detailed map with directions on getting to the village and to Monaco, which is all very doable within an afternoon. Take this (non-highway)* route up the scenic coast and you'll get to pass the cute town of Villefranche (which has better beaches than Nice) and experience really awesome aerial views of the French Riveria. About forty-five minutes later - depending of course on how many times you stop and take pictures - you'll arrive at Éze and feel like you just took a trip back in time.
* we made a wrong turn on the way back and ended up on a highway... and we were basically on the French autobahn on a 50cc scooter. Learn from us ;) Also, if you're not feeling as adventurous, there is a bus that takes you up there as well, though I'm not as familiar with that process. Google Transit always does a great job of figuring that out for me.
As soon as you walk up the hill and enter the village, you'll be amazed at the stone buildings and medieval corridors. Flowers line almost every window, and the local shops display their art in the most picturesque manner. You can easily get lost in the maze of the city. We browsed through all the shops and sat down at the cute le Nid d'Aile restaurant for a quick snack and a beer. If you are a patron, they will let you walk through their restaurant to peak out their windows at their ocean view. You'll get to see the bell tower and red roofs that define Éze and lead up to the cliff walls.
We spent about two hours roaming the village, checking out every corner and alley. I was so impressed with the preservation and charm of the village, that the high concentration of tourists did not bother me at all.
IMO, if you are going to Nice, Éze should be a mandatory destination. Between the cliff views and cobblestone alleys, you will not be disappointed.