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Top Two Medieval Villages on the French Riviera

a castle on a hill in St-Paul-de-Vence

The French Riviera is dotted with historic villages with picturesque views, but none rival the breathtaking beauty and starpower of Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Both villages can be easily visited within a day, and are easy day trip from several cities on the Côte d’Azur. This easy access combined with these villages’ standout views and intriguing atmosphere make them some of the most visited villages on the French Riviera, visited by over two million travelers every year.

Located just outside Nice, Eze Village is a dream come true for any kind of traveler. For the luxury go-getters, it’s a haven for five-star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and high-end boutiques and galleries.
History buffs will enjoy the town’s Medieval narrow lanes and stone façades, and you can follow in the steps of notable people who’ve enjoyed these same streets, like Nietzsche and even Walt Disney. In fact, Eze is often called the village-musée or “museum village” for its old-fashioned atmosphere and popularity with tourists.
For the Instagrammers and photographers, the views from Eze are unmatched. The town is perched on a cliff, 427 meters above the Mediterranean Sea, offering astounding panoramic views of the Moyenne Corniche.

Besides its incredible views and maze of streets, there’s plenty to see in Eze. The most popular attraction is the Jardin Exotique. This peaceful and contemplative corner is located at the top of the village, on the ruins of the Medieval fortress. The garden is home to cacti and succulents from every continent, and you can’t look anywhere without encountering a spectacular view. From here, you can even see across the border to Italy and Monaco.
Tourists can also visit the terraces at Château Eza and Château de la Chèvre d’Or, the town’s two top hotels. Stop here for a pastry and coffee as you contemplate the views. You can also discover the Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, Eze’s oldest building, built in the year 1306.

Located on the opposite side of Nice and slightly inland, Saint-Paul-de-Vence offers a different, but no less beautiful vantage point on the Côte d’Azur.
Another eagle’s nest of tangled alleys and Medieval buildings, Saint-Paul-de-Vence has inspired visitors for centuries. The artist Marc Chagall called Saint-Paul-de-Vence home for nearly twenty years, creating his last works here. Chagall and his circle of friends frequented the Colombe d’Or, a historic inn at the heart of the village.
Regulars included Matisse, Calder, Léger, Braque and, most notably, Pablo Picasso. The owners were avid art collectors, and many artists paid for their stays with their works, which still adorn the walls of the inn.
Visitors can follow the path of these artists, whose work is scattered across the village. Stroll up to the Maeght Foundation to admire the collection of modern art, including works by Chagall and Miró, and walk inside La Chapelle Folon, a 17th-century chapel transformed by Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon. Also well worth visiting are the historic churches like the Eglise Collégiale, or just wander along the Medieval ramparts and admire the views.

No matter what you decide to do in Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence, these lost-in-time villages will surely make an unforgettable day trip on the French Riviera.


You can discover more about Eze & Saint-Paul-de-Vence with our tours: