The area used to be part of the County of Nice in the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia. In 1861, with Italy's unification, it became part of the Province of Cuneo. In 1947 following the treaty of Paris the area was given to France.
The idea of a ski resort near the small town of Isola first came from a British Army ex-officer, and Olympic skier, Peter Boumphrey, in the late 1960s, after he discovered a basin in the southern French Alps on a map. The local village of Isola owned the land he wanted to build the resort on – a small town located at an altitude of 900m, with poor prospects for development as citizens were migrating to the cities. As a result of this, the local mayor was happy to allow Boumphrey, and the London based contractors he persuaded to help him, to build a ski resort above Isola, as the land required was of little value as farmland.
The regional government was concerned not too much about the resort itself, but about the road that was required to access it. Before the resort existed there was a small dirt road up the resort's location, and avalanches were constantly blocking this in the winter, as well as rockslides in the summer. Therefore, the government was interested in building a slightly longer, but safer road to the resort, that could serve Isola 2000, and also another proposed resort, called Azur 2000, that was never built. However, the mayor of Isola was adamant that the road pass through his town, and the British contractors did not want the resort to be any further from Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, a key aspect of the location, so the new route was scrapped, and the old road was upgraded.
In the summer of 1971 the resort officially finished, and had a capacity to sleep 6,000 people. It opened in December that year.
Dating back to the medieval period, this charming little village is often described as a ‘jewel’ along the French Riviera. Just 30 minutes from Nice, Eze-Sur-Mer is a cluster of stone buildings and winding, narrow streets, topped with the spire of l’Eglise d’Eze. The village is situated on a hill, proudly showcasing the blue hues of the Mediterranean Sea which surround it.
Before visiting Eze, I didn’t know much about this seemingly magical place. As usual, I had decided I wanted to visit after seeing photos on Instagram and Pinterest, and wondered if it would live up to the fairytale status everyone seemed to give it. We arrived on a warm day in late April, when our first obstacle was finding a place to park. I squeezed into a gap that may or may not have been a legitimate parking space, but that’s a perk of having a Fiat 500 as your rental car!
Eze-sur-Mer is undoubtedly best enjoyed in the early hours of the day in the summer months (like, before 10am) or during the shoulder seasons. Numbers of tourists are much lower at these times. Undeterred, we tagged along behind one of the many tour groups, their shepherd holding their flag high to direct their herd through the tiny streets.