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Saturday 10 April 2010

Eze - The Fairytale Village of the Cote D'Azur: Beaches, U2 & Botanical Gardens

Eze is a town so picturesque you can barely believe it's real. Perched precariously 427 metres above sea level upon a hilltop which runs down to the seaside, this medieval jewel is a holiday destination to rave about. Coastal, tropical and historical - what's not to love about this place?

The beach is easily accessed from the village - it's about a half-hour walk down Chemin de la Mer, shaded by pine and olive trees. Once you reach the bottom, you will find typical Mediterranean beaches and plenty of things to do - water sports, swimming, sun-bathing, alfresco dining, picnics.

 If you are a U2 fan, you could even hunt for Bono's villa - the beach which it overlooks was the location for the filming of the video clip for U2's song 'Electrical Storm'.

Yet Eze is not simply a coastal town - it has even more to offer. Nearby is an enormous forest of over 600 hectares. If you enjoy hiking through natural splendour, you should be more than satisfied with what's on offer here. 

The vegetation in this region is lush and tropical - the warm climate fostering the growth of bananas, dates, oranges and pine trees.

The Village itself also offers many hours of exploration and enjoyment. Set upon on an imposing cliff overlooking the ocean, it isn't hard to lose yourself in the stunning panoramic views. Wander the narrow winding streets and browse the many boutiques. Some of these shops are in charming cave-like buildings, carved into rock. Squeeze inside these tiny boutiques to browse for some original gifts or art for those unlucky enough to be left back home, or even a special gift for yourself!

Eze also contains an exotic botanic garden with rare species of plants, with 360 degree panoramic view of the Cote D'Azur. The collection of Cactus from Africa and America is a refreshing contrast against the French countryside. Among the succulents are 400 species of exotic plants flourishing in the mild, warm climate of Eze. The gardens were created in 1950 on the ramparts and ruins of a 12th century castle.

If these descriptions aren't enough to convince you of the town's enchanting fairytale charm, take it from Walt Disney, who spent a great deal of time in Eze. According to the locals, the town also inspired Nietzsche in the writing of his famous work, 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra'.

This village is extremely popular and sometimes the charm of the town can be overwhelmed by the swarms of tourists - don't let this put you off though. 

 Generally, the masses of tourists only stop in the town for a few hours, snapping up a few souvenirs before jumping back on to the bus and driving off to the next town. 

 So while it may become swamped by tourists for a few hours around the middle of the day, the town remains relatively quiet during the early morning, late afternoon and the evenings.  

If you want to avoid the hub-bub, go for a picnic on the beach or in the forest during the middle of the day, and return to lazily stroll through the village as the sun begins to head for the horizon. If you really want the place to yourself, avoid summer and enjoy it in the spring or early autumn.

Another plus about this town is that it is only a few kilometres from Nice - one of the best cities in France. There's plenty to do and see in Nice and it is well worth taking the time to explore it. It is also very close to ritzy Monaco if you feel the need for some glitz and glamour.

Where to stay?

For a range of luxury villas in Alpes-Maritimes visit our website www.southfrancevillas.com.

Contributions by Katarina Byrne