Visit Eze – an excursion from Villefranche

Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Maritime Alps lies Eze, a hidden gem that beckons travelers with its medieval charm and breathtaking panoramas. For those fortunate enough to visit Éze as a cruise ship excursion from the port of Villefranche, the village offers an enchanting escape into history, nature, and medieval French architecture.

Getting to Éze from Villefranche (officially called Villefranche-sur-Mer) is surprisingly straightforward. Depending on your level of adventure or activity, you have various options.

Whether you choose the short but scenic journey by train followed by a rewarding hike up the Nietzsche Path, or travel by bus or taxi for a more direct route, the journey to Éze is part of the experience, unveiling the stunning Riviera landscape that has inspired artists and visitors for centuries.

This guide will arm you with all you need to know to embark on this adventure independently, allowing you to discover Éze at your own pace.

Villefranche train station

The Villefranche train station is just a short uphill walk from the port area. The station itself is very small.

Eze train station, Eze-sur-Mer
Eze train station, Eze-sur-Mer

If the ticket office is not open, there is a machine where you can buy train tickets. If you do not understand the instructions in French, just choose English.

How to get to Eze from Villefranche cruise port

Getting to Éze from Villefranche-sur-Mer offers a choice between scenic and direct routes, each offering a unique experience. For those arriving by cruise, the adventure begins the moment your tender boat gets to shore in Villefranche.

First, let’s talk about Eze village and Eze-Sur-Mer. Eze is situated on different levels:

  • Eze village is high up in the mountains on what is known as the Moyenne Corniche. This is the medieval village and your final destination.
  • Eze-Sur-Mer means “Eze on the Sea” and lies far below the village on the coast. It refers to the stony Eze beach, some restaurants and cafes along the front, local houses, hotels, and the train station.

The two are directly connected by a steep walking trail, the Nietzsche Path. Of course, you can visit Eze-sur-mer just for the beach – accessible by a path from the train station – but you will miss out on the stunning village.

Hiking the Nietzsche Path to Eze village

Hiking the Nietzsche Path from Eze-cur-Mer to Eze village is an unforgettable experience with stunning views. The walk takes just over one hour. Wear good walking or hiking shoes and bring a water bottle and sunscreen.

The start of the Nietzsche footpath outside the entrance to Eze village.
The start or finish of the Nietzsche footpath at Eze village

The path is uneven and has loose stones in many places, so you need to be sure-footed. The path is not intended for young children, and there are no barriers of any kind near the edge, only vegetation.

Remember to check how long your cruise ship intends to stay in port. To save time, you may choose to hike the Nietzsche Path to Eze village and take the bus or a taxi back to the cruise port. However, you will most likely only have time to hike in one direction.

The train journey from Villefranche to Éze-sur-Mer is very short; it takes just 7 minutes and costs around 3 euros each. Eze is the second stop. First, the train will stop at the coastal town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, then onto Eze.

To reach the start of the Nietzsche Path from Eze train station, cross the road and follow the footpath east about 200 meters. The start of the path is concreted and is signposted.

The train from Villefranche cannot take you to Éze village, it can only take you to Eze-sur-Mer train station. To reach Éze village from the train station at Éze-sur-Mer, you must ascend via the famed Nietzsche Path. This moderately challenging hike takes approximately an hour and rewards you with panoramic views of the Mediterranean.

If you are a reluctant train traveler, you can take a taxi from the Villefranche port to Eze-sur-Mer and ask the driver to take you to the start of the Nietzsche Path. The journey will take around 15 minutes. Note, however, that taxi journeys around here are pricey; expect to pay at least 50 euros. If you can share the cost of a taxi ride with other cruise travelers or your friends, do so.

Visit Eze village by road using bus or taxi

Unfortunately, there is no direct bus from Villefranche to Éze Village. Once you get the train to Eze-sur-mer, bus 83 goes to the village of Eze for those who prefer a more relaxed approach. However, the bus may not run so frequently if you are visiting at the weekend.

Eze village architecture
Eze village architecture

You can make it very easy for yourselves and take a taxi from Villefranche port to Eze village instead. This option offers a comfortable and scenic route up the hill, allowing you to save your energy for exploring the village itself. However, it is the most expensive way to get to Eze village. Expect to pay at least 70 euros. Choose this option if you are not interested in hiking the Nietzsche Path and want to get to Eze village quickly.

Visit Eze village on a guided tour

Opting for an independent guide to explore the medieval village of Eze from the cruise port in Villefranche brings a few advantages that can enhance your visit significantly:

  • Personal Touch: Enjoy a tour led by a local guide who is passionate about Eze’s rich history and culture.
  • Deeper Insights: Learn about Eze’s hidden gems that only a local guide can provide.
  • Flexibility: Take advantage of a flexible schedule that allows you to explore at your own pace, without the rush of larger tour groups.
  • Unique Exploration: Immerse yourself fully in the beauty of Eze, from its quaint streets to the breathtaking vistas, for a truly unforgettable experience.

Exploring the medieval village of Éze

Just before the entrance to the old village, turn down the road on the right where you’ll see cars are parked, and you’ll find a tourist information office.

Tourism office and public restrooms outside the entrance of Eze village.
Tourism office and public restrooms outside the entrance of Eze village.

Here, you can gather maps and a bus schedule from the friendly English-speaking staff. Adjacent to the office are public restrooms, known for their cleanliness, available for a euro.

Discovering the village

Éze’s history dates back to around 2000 BC and is etched into its architecture, with castles and hotels that whisper tales of the past. While exploring, look out for plaques and signs that recount the stories of these historic buildings, many of which now serve as luxurious accommodations for visitors.

Local artists in Eze village
Local artists in Eze village

Over the centuries, Eze has seen numerous rulers, from the Romans to the Moors, and was a strategic military site due to its elevated position. The area was fortified in the 12th century by the House of Savoy, who built a castle on the site to assert their control over the region.

Historic castles and hotels

Amidst the ruins and rebuilt structures that remain today stands the iconic Château Eza, a jewel of medieval architecture perched majestically atop the village.

Originally constructed in the 14th century as a fortress, Château Eza has been meticulously restored and transformed into a luxurious hotel offering unparalleled Mediterranean sea views. Its historic ambiance and modern amenities make it a favored destination for travelers seeking a blend of elegance and heritage.

The luxury of La Chèvre d’Or

The Château de la Chèvre d’Or began as a café opened by Robert Wolf in the 1950s and has evolved into one of the most exclusive hotel restaurants in the world, offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Stunning entrance to Chateau de la Chevre d'Or, Eze village
Stunning entrance to Chateau de la Chevre d’Or, Eze village

It’s a part of Èze’s transformation into a destination for luxury tourism, combining historical ambiance with modern comfort.

Cafés and restaurants

The village is dotted with quaint cafés and restaurants, offering refreshments and meals that cater to every taste. From traditional French cuisine to modern takes on classic dishes, dining in Éze is an experience in itself. These spots provide a break and a moment to soak in the village’s peaceful atmosphere.

Reaching the peak and exploring the Botanical Gardens

No visit to Éze is complete without reaching its summit to explore the Exotic Garden of Eze, Le Jardin Exotique. Perched atop a medieval fortress 429 meters above the Mediterranean, the gardens offer breathtaking views of the French Riviera, stretching to the Esterel Mountains and the Gulf of Saint Tropez. It is adorned with succulents and xerophytes from across the globe on its sun-drenched mountainsides. As visitors wander the pathways, informative plaques tell of the historical legacy and the site’s extraordinary past.

View of the Mediterranean from the Exotic Gardens, Eze
View of the Mediterranean from the Exotic Gardens, Eze

Wrapping up your day in Éze

Spending a day in Éze is like stepping into a storybook where every corner holds a new tale, every pathway leads to discovery, and time seems to stand still just for a moment. Whether you’re arriving by bus, after a reflective hike, or simply wandering into its history-laden streets, Éze offers a blend of natural beauty, history, and culture that’s hard to forget.

How to travel by bus from Eze back to Nice

After exploring the medieval center of Eze, make your way down the slight hill where you’ll find the Fragonard perfumed soap tourist attraction. It’s a short walk from here to the nearby bus stop to get back to Nice. You can catch either Bus #602 or Bus #82, which departs approximately once an hour. Timetables can be collected from the nearby tourist information office. The bus ride is a 30-minute journey to Nice, specifically to the Vauban bus station on the city’s east side.

Once at Vauban bus station, the simplest route to return to your central hotel involves a brief 5-minute walk to the tram stop “Vauban”. Board tram line 1, the route via Avenue Jean Médecin and Place Masséna. Disembark at the stop closest to your hotel. You can download the Nice and tram routes maps here for more information.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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