The French Riviera Experience Pt. 2 – Cannes and Eze

Nice is a travellers’ town; it is the hub of many routes through the French Riviera.  It is a common practice for tourists to find accommodation in Nice, as the city is only one hour from many well-known small coastal towns that are accessible through public transportation or mopeds.  The two towns that I had the fortune to visit on my journey were Cannes and Eze.

The town of Cannes is best known for their film festival, which runs through May, and unfortunately ended a month before my arrival.  The crowd had dispersed from the small town and the annual hype had passed.  The time I spent in Cannes was during the slow season and it was quiet.  As popular as Cannes becomes during the high season, the lethargic pace of the town in the other months leaves the streets bare.

It was up to my imagination to picture red carpets, paparazzi and wealthy enthusiasts flooding the streets.  The well-kept roads running parallel to the port are home to expensive shops with extravagant displays.  Manicured displays boast typical high-class products like jewelry, €1 000 pens, flamboyant new fashion choices and rare edibles.  Cannes would be an amazing place to spend a small fortune.

I visited the “top” attraction at Cannes, the Île Sainte-Marguerite, through a short ferry ride just off the port of Cannes. The island contained a fort and a small village, many walking paths, and a few rocky beaches. The fort contained some history of the island and is worth a short gander, given that you have committed to seeing the island. After the fascinating museums and attractions in Barcelona, Nice and Marsilles, I was generally unimpressed with the whole experience.

Èze offers an experience that is the antithesis of Cannes.  Proudly erected in the Alps, Èze is a village that towers above the highway, ocean, and other towns, but is often overlooked by travelers.  Access to the village can be sought through a brutal trail originating from the train station, and ending 2,000 feet above sea level.  Alternatively, there are roads that lead to the village with infrequent bus services.  It may be a little frustrating getting to Èze, but it is definitely worth a visit.

As much as Cannes is entrenched into high culture, wealth, and spending, Èze appeals to tourists through natural beauty, age, and homeliness.  Entering the village feels like opening a door to a different world that is centered on art.  Worn-out stone dominate Èze’s streets and at first glance, it seems like you have walked into a medieval town.   Modernity has struck some areas, such as the signs or railings, but you feel the age of the place seeping past the new additions.  There are only a few streets, so it is impossible to get too lost.  At the highest point of the village lies the botanical gardens, which boasts an impressive panoramic view.

View from the highest point on Eze
View from the highest point on Eze

Èze is home to many local artists who work out of individual studios that spill their latest masterpieces through their doors and onto street displays.  Some artists challenge the mold of art through the production of more modern pieces, while local scenery influences others. The botanical gardens provide a balance between local fauna and sculptures, making it a peaceful and enjoyable walk. Locally owned shops sporting homemade trinkets, crafts, and souvenirs are a huge part of what makes Èze a perfect place to spend an afternoon.

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