Eze bord de Mer - home to U2's Bono
Bono - real name Paul Hewson - has been fronting the band U2 for a few decades and has earned him one of the top rankings among the millionaires of rock. His beachfront villa Eze les Roses is on four floors and its grounds back on to the railway station Eze bord du Mer. The living area rises five metres up from the beach itself and the patio is set back, so it's hidden from the view of people on the beach.
The beach here is very stony and accessible only on foot through tunnels that run under the railway. There are a only a couple of beach clubs, like Papagayo, where you can take a sunbed for the day and drinks, and other wise the beach is empty - no other commercialisation helps to keep it very quiet, other than on the rare occasion Bono is partying after a concert somewhere.
Jardin Equotique and commanding views
Eze Village is crowned by its Jardin Exotique. The four Euro admission is an essential part of a visit to Eze Village not because you are interested in cacti but because it has a monopoly of the panorama, which is one of the most spectacular along this stretch of the Riviera, as one of the only perched villages with a direct sea view. From here you can see from Italy through to the mountains of the Esterel,, looking down over the rooftops of the village. You would be well advised to choose a fine day for best advantage. You can also tell your friends you "look down on Bono", who has a giant beachfront villa, Eze les Roses, at Eze-bord-de-Mer below.
Quaint tourist shops and artist studios
The warren of tiny streets that make up this quaint perched village are home to a large number of artists ateliers, much as will be found in their twin tourist attraction village St Paul de Vence. These boutiques showcase local artists works, mostly paintings in the modern/abstract style, plus a variety of ceramics and objets d'art, such as a plate bearing a coat of arms inscribed with the reminder "Eze" to jog memories of your twelve-city mediterranean cruise. Should the fancy take you, they will ship artworks to your home town and conveniently accept a wide selection of international credit cards.
There are also conveniently a number of perfume outlets on hand, from Fragonard and Marrionaud. These are manufacturers of ingredients for the big world-famous perfume house names, who attract a near-fanatical following from some ladies of a certain age from across the Atlantic.
As in all these moments of holiday madness, like THAT Turkish carpet you had to buy because it was an absolute bargain, consider whether what you buy will pass the 100ml liquids limit on cabin baggage, or whether it will fit in your hold luggage.
Whether or not you buy any souvenirs, be sure to pay up to enter the tropical garden at the summit of the village, which has a monopoly of those covetted views. I recently watched a giggling Japanese foursome decline this opportunity. They had travelled all this way, thousands of miles, at heaven knows what expense, and turned down the prize views to avoid paying five measly euro. Sense of proportion out of kilter.
The only thing to do - see the gardens.
The gardens are laid out on a steeply sloping hillside with wonderful views looking down to the coast and the the Mediterranean below.
In February some of the more tender plants were covered with gardener's fleece. Overall the garden was still impressive even if lacking some of the more vibrant colours to be seen later in the year.
We drove and parked below the entrance. It is quite a steep climb to the top of the garden which might prove difficult for anyone with mobility problems .
Near the top there is a rather "posh" looking hotel restaurant. It looked as though it might be a bit expensive and as we were not in need of refreshments we did not try it.
Walking tour of Eze
Like most of the "villages perchés" there is no need for a detailed route as they are small enough to walk along every street without getting lost. So just explore the narrow streets, stairs and hidden corners, which as you have probably gathered is one of my favourite activities. They are excellent subjects for artists. The Chateau de la Chevre d'Or is a hotel which appears to be scattered throughout the village. As we were walking along a narrow public pathway, a chambermaid was opening a linen closet situated in the wall. Just then a waiter appeared, carrying a tray of drinks into an enclosed garden.
- Historical Travel
Le Jardin Exotique
This garden is set on the top of the hill in the grounds of the ruined 14th century chateau and has many varieties of succulents and cacti. For those more interested in the views, they are spectacular too. There is a 5€ entrance fee, but the gardens and view are worth the expense. Remember for those who have spent their entrance fee budget and are not interested in cacti, there are views almost as good from other parts of the village.
Church of Our Lady of Assumption.
Referred to in some guide books as "the church" or "l'eglise" it was built in the 18th century by Italian architect Antonio Spirelli. It has a classical facade and baroque interior. The interior shows signs of age, but is worth a visit. The church is in a lovely setting and there are some lovely views from across the square.
- Historical Travel
As we whiled away the afternoon in Eze, we passed by the Musee de'Eze. This small museum looked like it was closed at the time, so I don't have much first hand information on it.
However, after doing a bit of research I found that the Corsican painter/sculptor Jules Franck Mondoloni has a painting displayed inside. For an example of his work, see: Homage to John Coltrane. (pic #2).
The actual piece he has in the Musee de'Eze is 'Portrait de Rimbaud d'apres' une Photo de Carjat'. My husband and I really enjoy art galleries and museums, so I suspect we would have enjoyed a wander through the Musee de'Eze.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Take time to explore
It seemed that each small alleyway or interesting door at the end of the stairs contained a shop bearing some item that might appeal to any traveler, foreign or otherwise.
A small souvenir or two for the family, a devastatingly fragrant perfume or unique pieces of art might be hiding just a step or two away. A remembrace of France to take back home with you!
My husband had his eye on a small glass vessel decorated in wavy hues of blue and green. He is still regretting that he left it behind. Thoughts of carrying it home in one piece or perhaps paying a prohibitive price to ship it kept him from making the purchase.
I kept wishing for a well placed bench to toss myself onto, but never found an empty one.
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
The White Penitents Chapel or St. Croix Chapel
The iron flourishes on the front door cause one to stop and read a small sign which says, Chapelle de la Sainte-Croix, also known as the White Penitents Chapel. It looked intriguing!
When the plague was running rampant throughout Europe, a group of good deed-doers known as The Brotherhood of White Penitents founded this chapel in the 14th century.
They wore white robes* and were known for their compassion in treating the sick, praying for the sinful, repenting and helping the poor. I'm sure they were very welcome indeed!
This community of brothers inherited ten properties from a man of wealth on which grew mulberry and carob trees. Each year, they auctioned off the leaves of the white mulberry to silkworm breeders making an enterprise out of it.
During the revolutionary period in the late 1700's worship was not permitted, but less than a decade later services resumed in the chapel.
According to the town's records, "the penitents took part in processions, collected corn and oil, distributed pictures, welcomed travelers and took care of those with leprosy."
*The color denotes the function of the brothers: white robes meant these men took care of the diseased
- Historical Travel
Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church
At the bottom of one of the pathways sits a baroque-style church with a creamy white and ochre facade and bell tower. This is Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, built by Italian architect, Antonio Spinelli (constructed 1764-1778).
Visitors enter beneath the oculus and into its interior, which has four side chapels. One particular painting shows the archangel St. Michael saving souls in pergatory--St. Sebastian, St. Antoine of Egypt and St. Grat, all considered to be concerned with the area's local harvest and olive trees (pic #2).
We found it to be a very peaceful oasis in the midst of the multitudes scaling the mount. Candles flickered, saints smiled down at us benignly and all seemed right with the world.
- Historical Travel
Absorbing the beauty of Eze
As we wound our way throughout the castle's perimeter, we came to some very picturesque views.
Case in point, this flower strewn wall of climbing roses or pink clematis. Grabbing for my camera, I just had to snap a photo.
Although we traveled here in the Autumn, there were many flowers still blooming throughout the countryside with colorful bunches overflowing in pots and planters along city streets and doorfronts.
- Women's Travel
le Sentier Nietzsche
Named after Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher and writer, le Sentier Nietzsche is a steep hiking trail that links Èze-sur-mer with Èze Village 400 metres higher. It is said that Nietzsche hiked this very trail while he was contemplating some of his writings during his stay on the Côte d'Azur in the late 1800s. For the ambitious hikers among us, the long steep trail could be a fun challenge. It runs between Mediterranean shrubs and trees and takes 45 minutes to descend or 1.5 hours to climb!
Art Galleries and Artisanal Shops
The narrow steep streets of Èze Village are filled with art galleries and locally produced artisanal products. Many sell nice objects and gifts to bring back home, or simply provide entertainment while walking around the village.
Chapelle de la Sainte Croix
Located under an archway, this tiny chapel dates from the 14th century. It was built while the plague was ravaging this area of the Mediterranean and it was used as a place of repentance for the sick and poor.
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