Perched Villages of the Cote d’Azur
There are over 120 perched villages on the Cote d’azur! I’m just visiting a handful that are near my villa. My visitors always enjoy them and I hope you will too. It might give you some ideas for a day out – great to escape the heat of summer, it is always cool in the hills.
PHOTO: Eze Village
The most popular with tourist is the Medieval village of Eze, perched dramatically above the sea. Meander through the streets visiting tourist shops interspersed with some nice art galleries and stop the Chèvre d’Or Relais Chateau Hotel for lunch. If however, like me you avoid anywhere with tourist buses then visit in the evening or out of season, when they have all gone home. The village is dramatically lit at night too.
Definitely make time to visit the Exotic Garden perched above the village, just follow the signposts throughout the village paths. This shot was taken in December and the weather was gorgeous with very few other visitors, perfect! You can see Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.It costs 3.50 euros to go into the garden. Dog friendly too!
Explore the winding streets, visit the L’eglise Notre Dame de l”assomption a neo classical 18th century church. There are lots of little shops and art galleries to buy something to take home.
However, this village is probably the most touristy on the Cote d’Azur and will be packed all through the summer. There is good parking though and plenty of incredible views looking over the sea.
Also in Eze, a short walk from the old village is the Fragonard Perfumerie. Take a tour here and buy some of the gorgeous scents to take home.
After Eze you can drive towards La Turbie – a good place to stock up for a picnic if you are planning an al fresco feast. Little Boulangerie, butchers and other village shops. Stop off at Trophy Augustus, the remains of a Roman Trophy. La Turbie has breath taking views over the Coast towards Monaco.
Then Take a tiny road on the left going out of the village of La Turbie towards Menton signposted Peille. Keep going until you come to Peille.
This is my least favourite of the perched villages, maybe it is me but I find it slightly creepy and more shabby than chic! Although it makes for a great photo with the 14c remnants of buildings. However the views are breathtaking and it is worth visiting to experience the heart stopping, cliff edge road to Peille!
PHOTO: Pretty road from La Turbie to Peille
You may disagree but if not, just stop and take a few snaps and then retrace your steps a couple of kilometres and take a tiny road on the left to Saint Agnes. The road alone is worth the trip breathtaking views and hairpin bends, quite an adventure! This route is often used for car rallies and the sometimes the tour de France – you will see why!
There are some really nice hikes here too and the route is perfect for cyclists as it is used for many races including the Tour de France.
There are some stunning walks up in the hills, make sure to pack a picnic and your walking boots.
PHOTO: ST Agnes Perched Village
It looks like something from a fairytale doesn’t it? A sign is proudly displayed at the entrance to the village stating it is one of the most beautiful villages in Europe and at 800m the highest Littoral village in Europe – quite a claim. It is certainly very pretty and with an interesting history, including the church which dates in part from 1535. At the southern end of the village you can visit a fort built into the cliff that was built as part of the Maginot line of defences in the second world war.
Village of St Agnes , a perched village on the Cote d’azur
St Agnes is very pretty and there are not many tourists, so definitely worth driving up here. Great walks all around too! You can hike up from the coast, or cycle if you are feeling energetic but that is a day hike.
A peculiarity of the french is that they will eat anything that moves! Again, this is a leftover trait from times when food was scarce and one that is still practiced today. All of the bits that we generally throw away, and even my dogs would refuse to eat, appear as delicacies on a french menu; brains, guts, tripe are very common especially in the more rural villages.
They also have a love of hunting and freedom to hunt anywhere during the hunting season is still widely practiced today, (also a tendency to shoot themselves by accident!). So…. the menus in these little villages is often dependant on what is in season. Wild Boar, Rabbit, Pigeon often feature together with delicious Trout in Summer.
PHOTO: Little restaurants and art galleries in St Agnes
The food in the isolated villages is generally good and in season. I’ve eaten delicious fresh Trout in the restaurant above but you will also find rabbit and wild boar in season. After a good lunch you can get back into the car and drive down towards Menton. Enough for one day!
Some other perched villages are: Roquebrune Cap Martin Old Village which has spectacular views of Monaco an old Castle and a few restaurants but not much more. Further along the coast you will find St Paul de Vence which is very pretty and famous for being home to many famous painters. Saint Paul de Vence is very touristy and always crowded in Summer.
HERE is my Menton Blog: