Exploring a Riviera Gem, From Seaside to Hilltop

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Last year, riding the coastal train from Ventimiglia, on the Italian Riviera, to Nice, on the French Riviera, I stopped at the seaside village of Èze-Bord-de-Mer to spend a few days with a family friend who has a house overlooking the Mediterranean.

I had been hearing about Èze for decades, not in connection with European glamour and glitz or topless yachting princesses from Monaco, but because it was there that my hostess’s brother met his future wife — who later became one of my mother’s best friends — on the marble terrace of a seaside villa called Èze les Roses.

Not long after the two met in the 1960s, I had passed through, in utero — my parents had splurged on a European trip on their first anniversary, staying at a nearby hotel in St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Since childhood, I had longed to see firsthand this hamlet that my mother’s friend had imbued with such romance, even though the villa now belonged to Bono, of U2, and was off-limits. A man on the train assured me I would like Èze all the same. “C’est assez classy et assez bon marché,” he said (“rather classy and rather inexpensive”). Just the thing for a former Midwesterner without pin money for roulette.