Saturday, 14 April 2012

France: Eze, Nietzsche Path

I don't actually feel very philosophical when I step off the train at Eze Bord de mer on the French Riviera. I just enjoy being here. However, there are philosopher's footsteps to follow: a path named after Friedrich Nietzsche, up to Eze village on the hilltop above. The signpost estimates the climb to take about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The distance isn't that long, the journey is more about how fast you are able to or even want to walk up there. In hot weather it wouldn't be a great idea to do this on foot; you would have to have plenty of water with you. Also, it is best to wear proper footwear instead of flip-flops....
The colours around the path are not the only thing that can refresh a walker's mind. If you rub your fingers to a sprig of wild rosemary, next to the path, it opens up other senses. The rocky path is very clearly marked and there is no danger of getting lost. Just focus on the path and the beautiful surroundings.
The view that opens to the azure Mediterranian is soothing to the soul. A good reason to stop and take a breath, another sip of water. Friedrich Nietzsche spent a lot of time on the French Riviera and he enjoyed walking a lot. No wonder why...
The philosopher took walks up to seven or eight hours a day. While walking up this very same path Nietzsche composed the crucial part of Also sprach Zarathustra.
Light-coloured, tall rocks loom above, and on some of them there are buildings. They certainly have breathtaking views. Ahead of us, a French family walks at slow pace towards the top, but the approximately 10 years old son is tired very early on, with tears running on his red cheeks. However, he refuses a sip of water from daddy's water bottle. Poor thing. The boy is wearing a black t-shirt with a mean-looking, large skull.
Both behind us and on our right, the sea view gets better step by step. For a while the path descends, but then it winds back up again. You simply have to stop and gaze at the rocky bay and the waves.
Finally we see Eze village above us.There are no trees giving their protective shade but there are some clouds that try to help us. Slowly but surely the hilltop gets closer and we walk beneath the trees surrounding the village.
Before the Nietzsche path finishes, you can see Fragonard perfume etc. factory on the right. I prefer to breathe the fresh air, coming from the sea, thank you. There is a group of Swedish students enjoying their lunch on the scenic spot next to the village. We all take in the view; you don't have to be a philosopher for that. The Eze village right next to us is trying its best to invite us to its narrow streets...
However, we won't stay in the picturesque village, but walk on, past the original hotel reception (donkeys available for luggage transportation because cars cannot enter the village above) and continue over the bridge towards Mont Bastide. The drop from the bridge is something so if you are afraid of heights and the weather is windy, you may not want to cross it on foot.
After the bridge we turn to the right to follow David's path to the top of Mont Bastide. After a while we see ourselves at the same level as the Eze hilltop village but soon we are much higher, looking down at both Eze and the sea.
The views are not getting better only towards the sea. From the top of Mont Bastide, you can also see the beautiful mountain landscape of Maritime Alps, including the tall ones with their snow caps. Down below the Mediterranian looks fantastic in the afternoon sunlight and on the coastline you can see also St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat - round which there is a great footpath! We sit down, to be sheltered from the wind by the bushes. This is a lovely place for a late lunch.
The sun is still shining on the western side of Mont Bastide when we start our descent back towards Eze Bord de mer. Mostly we walk on the narrow, sometimes rocky gravel path, but further down we also need to cross a busy road with cars and motorcycles speeding past.
It is indeed a luxury to be able to walk here, watching the scenery, the flowers that already decorate the hills. We pass also a small altar with a Mothers' Prayer, Prière des Mères, attached to it. A pilgrim route for someone, perhaps?
The closer we get to the Eze Bord de mer railway station, the harder it is for the knees - asphalt does not give in under your step so I miss the gravel path... The gardens are protected by walls, often covered by bushes and flowers (thank you!), and a dog barks behind a fence. I wonder what it looked like in this village when Friedrich Nietzsche walked down the hill more than hundred years ago?


  1. Hello!

    I will be in Eze next month with my family (my wyfe and 2 children, 8 and 15 years old). We dont have experience in hiking but I like a lot the view from Mont Bastide. What is your opinion about this hike with kids. We will start from Eze Village (via bus 81 from Nice). Do it is accesibile for kids? Any danger? But how long is it?



  2. Hi, if anyone in your family is afraid of heights, then you may need to reconsider. Starting from Eze village you will quickly find out because the sometimes very windy bridge will tell If you can continue to the path. If you are all comfortable with a narrow, rocky path, wear trainers (no flip-flops) and take water and some snacks with you, you should be ok. You can always turn back to Eze village if the path does not suit you. Check or get a map before taking the path if you need details, I usually carry one with me:) Unfortunately I do not have the Eze map with me now so can't give more details.

    I also recommend the coastal paths by the sea, for example St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Ok for families but you still need to walk with care in some places.