Le Petit Tour de France: Cote d’Azur (Eze and Villefranche-sur-Mer)

My first day-trip on the Riviera was to the medieval hilltop village of Eze and then down the road to the lovely town of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The Côte d’Azur has a remarkable bus system, connecting all of the towns and cities along the coast – all for one euro per ride! I took full advantage of this during my stay, along with other tourists and locals alike. I encountered many people commuting to and from work, and kept thinking how lucky they are – can you imagine your daily commute looking anything like this?!

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The tiny village of Eze dates back to 2000 B.C. and was occupied by Romans, Moors, and all kinds of folks until being officially designated as part of France in the mid-1800’s. It sits atop a high cliff, and is now mostly a tourist destination. Lucky for me, I was there early on a November morning, so it wasn’t overrun (but by the time I left at 11a.m. it was beginning to be – I can’t imagine what it’s like there in June!) The tiny streets – well, paths actually – are made of stone and brick, and it’s charming to walk along them, past the small shops and cafés, through narrow passages and small tunnels…

 

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l’Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption…

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A graffitied plant tucked away in a corner… I saw this kind of thing several times in the South of France – a strange hybrid of provincial and urban culture…

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At the very top of the hill, you’ll find the Jardin Exotique with all kinds of wonderful cacti and succulents, as well as some lovely sculptures by Jean-Philippe Richard…

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Also in the garden, at the very top of the cliff, you’ll find the ruins of a castle…

 

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And of course, the views from the garden are incredible…

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After exploring the village, I walked down the famous “Chemin de Nietzsche,” a hiking trail that runs along the cliff to the seaside town of Eze-Bord-de-Mer. It is said that Friedrich Nietzsche walked this trail everyday when he lived in Eze in the late 1800’s, inspiring some chapters of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” The wooded area of the path was lovely and cool, and when it cleared, the view was gorgeous…

 

At the entry of the path, looking up at the village…

 

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Check out this VIDEO to get a better sense of the amazing view…

 

When I reached the bottom, I made a quick stop at the beach before getting on the bus to Villefranche-sur-Mer…

 

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Villefranche-sur-Mer is a great little town – I roamed the tiny pedestrian streets of its Vieille Ville for hours, admiring the bright colors and many potted plants…

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The entrance to la rue Obscure, an underground street that is equal parts interesting and creepy…

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On the coastline, you’ll find the small Port de la Santé, where I had a lovely lunch…

 

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Typical of the region, a salade Niçoise.. fresh and delicious!

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Walking northeast along the Quai, you’ll find the bay “la Rade,” and a small beach…

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Walking in the other direction you’ll pass la Vieille Ville atop a small hill and an old citadel…

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… and then into a more modern section of town by Port Royal de la Darse…

 

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And that’s about it from Eze and Villefranche-sur-Mer. Next stop on our tour of The Blue Coast: Antibes… À bientôt!

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