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Medieval and magnificent, towering like an eagle's nest above the coast and crowned with ramparts and the ruins of a medieval château, Èze (pronounced ehz) is unfortunately the most accessible of all the perched villages. So even during off-season its streets flood with tourists, some not-so-fresh from the beach, and it was one of the first towns to post pictorial warnings that say, in
effect, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service." It is, nonetheless, the most spectacularly sited; if you can manage to shake the crowds and duck off to a quiet overlook, the village casts an extraordinary spell. Its streets are steep and, in places, only for the flamboyantly fit; its time-stained stone houses huddle together in storybook fashion, and its history is remarkable. No wonder U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge have beachside villas here.
Colonized millennia ago by the Romans (who may have built a temple here to the Egyptian goddess, Isis—hence the town name), the mountain peak aerie that is Èze was much coveted by locals fleeing from pirating Saracens. By the 19th century, only peasants were left, but when the Riviera became fashionable, Èze's splendid views up and down the coast became one of the draws that lured fabled visitors—lots of crowned heads, Georges Sand, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Consuelo Vanderbilt, who, when she was tired of being Duchess of Marlborough, traded in Blenheim Palace for a custom-built house in Èze. Remember that if you choose to stay here, it gets very quiet at night, even in high season.
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