While staying in Nice, we spent one day driving the winding roads along the Côte d’Azur and hitting several small towns and villages, all of which were just as magical and charming as I’d expected. You always wonder if the destinations you’ve dreamed of will live up to your expectations and I can’t even begin to describe how the South of France exceeded everything I’d hoped for.
One of the best moves we made, perhaps unknowingly, was traveling in late September, outside of the busy summer season. While we were in Èze, we were told that if we’d been there just weeks earlier, it would have been so crowded that we’d have been shoulder-to-shoulder walking along the medieval paths. Instead, while it was bustling, for sure, we were able to easily get around, pop in and out of shops, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy the surreally stunning landscape of this centuries-old village.
Côte d’Azur Travel Diary: Èze
Èze is just a quick 20 minute drive up the coast from Nice, though it’s not for the faint of heart. The turns are winding and you’re hugging the coast. It’s like something out of a movie. You’ll know Èze as soon as you arrive — you can’t go any further. There’s a small parking lot and you have two options, both on foot. You explore the town at the base of the medieval hill, or you go up.
For context, Èze is town built into a high cliff above the Mediterranean Sea. Its stone buildings date back to the 1300s, and you feel as if the entire village was carved into the side of the mountain. There are narrow, wandering paths leading from shop to restaurant and hiding secrets around every corner.
We started our morning with a stop by a bakery, where I had perhaps the best pastry of my entire life (which, I’ve since learned, is actually an Italian pastry — makes sense since Italy is only 20 minutes up the road). I sat in the sun on a perfect 65-degree day, enjoying crunchy layers of buttery pastry and lemon custard, while sipping on an espresso, and waiting for my tour of the iconic Fragonard Perfumery to begin. This, I swear, was heaven.
Take a Tour of Fragonard
I’d insisted that we visit Fragonard. You may know that I’ve always been obsessed with perfume, so going to Èze, which is home to several perfumeries, was such a delight. We did a tour of the perfumery, which was fascinating not only because they explained the science behind the fragrances, but they also told the history of the region, how the perfumery had started after WWI, and its significance over the past century. Before the trip, I’d already decided I wanted to pick up a bottle of perfume to remember the trip by, and Ma Rose was my scent of choice. I bought a perfume while we were in Ireland four years ago, and it’s such a magical experience to inhale the scent and immediately remember being on that trip.
Don’t Miss the Jardin Exotique d’Èze
We then made the trek up to the top of the cliffside town, and Adam insisted we check out the Jardin Exotique d’Èze. At first, I was hesitant, but it’s absolutely worth the euros to walk through this mountaintop garden of succulents and cacti, if only for the view alone. You might think the view through the rest of the town is incredible, but it’s take your breath away beautiful up there. Seriously unbelievable.
On the way back down, we stopped at a café, I couldn’t tell you which one, for a jambon-buerre, a glass of wine, and another quintessentially French experience. Every moment of Èze felt like something out of a movie, and I can guarantee you I’ll be back — and hopefully staying in one of the darling hotels actually in the medieval city. Though don’t ask me how anyone gets their suitcases up these stone pathways…