Exotic garden


 The ruins of the castle

The stories of the village and the castle are closely linked. Since the Age of Iron many populations lived in Eze.

Its history can be summarised in different periods. In 1706, during the war of succession of Spain, Louis XIV ordered the destruction of the castle, the Minister for the war said : " Sir, the King having seen the strategic situation of the castle, between Villefranche and Monaco, His Majesty the King gave me the order to destroy this castle, in order to be able to preserve this communication ". At the " Belle Epoque ", the first tourists enjoy the sight and the charm, some trees grow up even on the top, where a refreshment bar offered a drink after the ascent in the village.


The exotic garden

After XXII century, a group of men took on their back some bags filled with ground and carried many stones towards the ruins of the castle where they build walls of which still remain ruins. It is there that René Gianton, the mayor of the time, with the assistance of Jean Gastaud founder of Monaco Exotic garden, decided to create an exotic garden.

The site is well sheltered from winds of north by the Revere Mount and its declivity ensures an effective drainage. Then the problem was to establish here plants adapted to dryness : cactus, agaves, aloes…

On the old pictures of the past, you can see some Mother-in-law Cushion (echinocatus grusonii), some are still in their pot, with euphorbiums. A true challenge and bet on the future. In front of the success of such an initiative this first phase of installation was followed soon by a second one. In winter 2003-04, the exotic garden welcame a new concept of Garden, where nearby exotic plants several cicuits are superimposed to create a space of art and relax.



"I learned that from the sun, when it goes down, it pours then in the sea, the gold of inexhaustible richnesses".

Appealed by the panorama from the ruins of the castle, Frederic Nieztsche wrote the most famous pages of "Thus spoke Zarathoustra", where he tryed, using sweet and amazing words, to describe the quality of blue he saw during the winter of 1883.


The panorama goes from Italy to Saint-Tropez, the winter with clear weather, Corsica is discerned. A panoramic table in enamelled lava help the visitor to locate the principal places.

Immediately in the east, with the rock called " the Dog's head " in the background, a beautiful property catch the attention with its gardens in terraces and its paths bordered of cypresses that growed again since the fire of 1986. It is the Balsan castle. The film director Alfred Hitchcock has shoot a scene of his film "To catch a thief " with Grace Kelly and Gary Grant in this property. The Balsan Castle was built by the famous landscape designer Achille Duchêne in 1921 at Jacques Balsan disposal. According to the newspaper the" Illustration", Jaques Balsan enjoyed to evoke constructions of the time Franciscan. "Lou Seuil", as it was called in the beginning, is indeed conceived like a monastery, with its cloister used as winter garden, its bell-tower and its chapel.

Among the roofs of the village, we see the small bell-tower of the white penitent chapel and especially the old residence of prince William of Sweden with its terrace overhanging the Mediterranean that is now a luxury hotel today.

At the sea side, Eze Sur Mer with its villas of the beginning of the XXe century, became the holiday place of several celebrities, Princess Antoinette, sister of Prince Rainier of Monaco or the singer of the group U2 to quote only two of them.

The cape Ferrat with the Saint Hospice foreland was chosen by Beatrice Ephrussi of Rothsild to build her villa. The villa is situated at the beginning of the cape with pink walls. On the other side, there is the roadstead of Villefranche-sur-mer, stopover privileged of the steamers of cruising during their passage on the Riviera.

Then, we clearly see the tracks of Nice airport in front the cape of Antibes, farther the mounts of Esterel and cape Camarat close to Saint-Tropez at approximately 120 km.


Espace contemplatif

Below the ruins of the castle, a contemplative space receives the visitor that would like to appreciate the panorama but also to dream and escape. It is a modern version of the medieval enclosure where people went when in need to be alone for a few moments.

Constitued of a terrace overhanging the sea with some ergonomic seats in teck, this place, slightly outside the alleys, allows to retire, in order to really enjoy atmosphere of the place. A point of view that also encourages to relax, read, dream. It could evoke also some old public parks where everybody met for a moment of peace. A spray and a mirror of water bring a note of freshness to the place. A small cascade threading between the rock buttresses breaks, by moments, the silence of its murmur. 


Earth goddnesses

Starting a dialogue with the vegetable world and the horizon, the paths are scattered by the sculptures in soil of Jean-Philippe Richard. These women, these "soil Goddesses" to the silhouette tapered, mysterious are descendant from Isis the Phoenicians venerated in these places, at the same time modest and sensual are offered at the meditation of passers by. Women with streamlined silhouette, their style evokes the graphics of the fashion designers but also the fascinating aspects of works of the Belgian Symbolists at the end of the XIXth century.

In fact, each one has its own identity and its own personality defined by a short poem of the artist :

"Hush ! you know nothing of my thoughts behind the curtain of my eyes"

Silent promises of I know not what happiness I look at thee and that suffices"

More about the artist and the sculptures


Contemplative spaces

To immerse oneself in a place, to get to know with the area, to know the way of life of its inhabitants, their history, the subject course allows to each visitor to discover the memory of Eze and its neighbourhoods at its rythm.

This course includes 20 blingual slab (F/GB) in enamelled lava illustrated with old documents, pictures and unpublished sights pf artists.

From Iron age to the shooting of TV series like " the persuaders", the greats moments of the history of Eze are recalled as the years go by. History of the events, history of the famous hosts, history of the place...

This course approaches also the architectural heritage of the village, the church, the white penitents chapel but also traditions and cultures like the arrival of running water or the legends.


Les plantes exotiques

A plant is known as succulent when it keeps the water to resist to dryness. If the Jardin d'Eze has numerous succulents arrivals from Africa or America adapted to the arid climate, it exist also some succulent plants growing in other places, aroud the Mediterranean or in tropical forest. The stocking to be exectued in the plump parts or fibrous, the leaves and the stems particulary.

This plants developed strategies to limit evaporation : sleek skin sometimes recovered with polish, pilosity, thorn in the place of the leaves. The nature and the evolution faced with climatic contraints comparable in various points of the sphere, bring differents answers, sometimes which it is difficult to distinguish the species. Several slab give advices to learn how to differentiate them.

More about exotic plants



Bibliographie :

Fighiera (Charles-Alexandre), Eze, Nice, éditions Serre, 2000, 448 p.

Flament (Albert), "Une belle demeure fleurie", l'Illustration, n°4648, 2 avril 1932.

Le Tiec (Patrick), Le Jardin exotique d'Eze, Monaco, Graphic Service, 2000, 48 p.