In Nietzsche’s ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ the German philosopher wrote the words, “From the sun I learned this: when it goes down, it pours gold into the sea out of inexhaustible riches, so that even the poorest fisherman still rows with golden oars. For this I once saw, and I did not tire of my tears as I watched it.” As celebrity endorsement’s go it’s one of the finer ones. Nietzsche’s words dictated from the heights of the Jardin Exotique in 1885 paint a picture of a perfect Riviera vista. It’s a hell of an advert for the French Riviera yet the intervening 134 years has seen a change. Long gone are the days of Maugham and Agnelli, yet still some of the old magic lingers in some of the Cote d’Azur’s most special places: Monaco’s Oceanographic Museum, Paloma Beach and Cap d’Antibes’ Villa Dorane. Yet above the crystal-clear blue waters and rock pines on an eagle nest perch sits Eze and its Chateau of the Golden Goat, a little-known gem that indubitably deserves a place as one of the most unique and wonderful locations on the Cote d’Azur.
When Barlow came to compose, he came to Eze. When Nietzsche came to write, he came to Eze. The same can be said for Cocteau, Navarro, Balokovic and Ferrero. There is something in the air at Eze that inspires greatness. Blessed with stunning views and a magical Provençal style, the village has a quaint history adorned with a plethora of famous faces. The village that we know and love today was the brainchild of the town’s rulers, the House of Savoy, who took control of the city in 1388. Seeing its lofty perch and strategic location (due to its proximity to Nice) the village was rebuilt into a hilltop fortress which goes someway to explaining the large number of mountaintop Chateaus in the area. Over the next few centuries Eze passed hands between France, Italy and at points the Turkish. In 1860 at the heights of the Italian wars of unification Eze officially became French territory as Garibaldi (a native of Nice) led his thousand into taking Sicily and then Naples. Under French rule however the late 19th century was not the Riviera that we love today. An impoverished region it was only with the discovery of the French Riviera as a summer resort in the 20th century and the Riviera of Agnelli and Aga Khan that Eze’s fortunes changed. Its botanic gardens, beautiful views and ochre coloured church with Egyptian cross brought in tourists and artists alike Of course visitors breed prosperity and Eze grew wealthy. The tourist boom at the start of the 20th century led to the birth of a simply lovely Riviera institution: La Château de La Chèvre d’or.
The hilltop 5-star hotel that we now know as La Château de La Chèvre d’Or has a charmed past. In 1953 Robert Wolff bought the original parcel of land that the hotel now sits on with the original and charmed intention of building a restaurant. He’d no doubt be pleased to hear that his grand vision is still alive in the two Michelin star restaurant bearing the same name as the hotel today. Our story of The Castle of the Golden Goat however would have had a very different ending were it not for one Walt Disney. He convinced Wolff to turn his restaurant into a hotel leading Wolff to gradually start buying up sections of the village – naturally all with sea views – for wealthy visitors to the south of France who wanted a homely alternative to Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo or Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat. In truth he did a fine job, the twentieth century saw membership to Relais & Chateaux as La Château de La Chèvre d’Or was dubbed the last spot on the road to happiness – happiness in this instance being the road from Paris to the French Riviera, we at Corniche can’t argue with that. This success bought a plethora of wealthy cosmopolitan Parisians and the great and good of the jet set to Eze as the towns tourist industry boomed. The hotel at this point really cornered the market of Eze’s hotel industry as the grand bastion (pun intended) of class and taste.
The hotel now owns 44 rooms and suites, which admittedly isn’t a grand figure in comparison to some of the other great Riviera hotels, yet it has the benefit in that every single room has a sea view quite a feat considering the outlandish price of real estate in the south of France. La Chateau now owns roughly half the village with 8 suites out of 44 rooms total. The panoramic suite is the crown jewel, nearly 150m2 squared of opulent luxury complete with infinity pool boasting views of Cap Ferrat and the Esterel Mountains. That little green dot in the distance on a clear day is Corsica. Inside is superb, you’d expect nothing less for a hotel of this calibre but La Chevre d’Or really plays on the home away from home vibe with comfort being the priority
Of course if your income doesn’t quite extend to the Panoramic Suite, you’re hardly going to be pushed for luxury in the hotel’s other rooms and suites. There’s the Royal Suite nestled in the heart of the village, the Suite du Cap offering what must quite simply be called one of the best views in the Riviera and a number of other suites and rooms pay homage to the geniuses who put Eze on the cultural map as Cocteau, Navarro, Balokovic, Ferrero, Barlow and Nietzsche’s names are paid homage to in the rooms of the hotel. Naturally all these rooms come with sea views and sumptuous luxury making this a superb Riviera getaway.
You’re hardly in short supply of good food on the Cote d’Azur let’s be honest. From the world’s top restaurants like Alain Ducasse’s 3 Michelin star Le Louis XV to up and coming establishments like Jan in Nice’s trendy port area. La Château de La Chèvre d’Or however is more than equipped on the restaurant scene. Blessed with 4 restaurants and a bar including the noted two Michelin star restaurant bearing the same name as the hotel, putting Eze on the culinary map. With head chef Arnaud Faye at the helm the restaurant is in safe hands with Faye being renown for gaining restaurants a second Michelin star having completed the feat at three separate establishments across the country. La Chèvre d’Or restaurant aside there are plenty of other options, Les Remparts restaurants is blessed with stunning views across Cap Ferrat with slightly more manageable prices whilst still maintaining a classy and elegant ambience. They also boast a Café Jardin and a bar affixed with a heraldic stone interior for an after-dinner drink (or two). Dining at La Château de La Chèvre d’Or is naturally an absolute pleasure. From its early days as a member of the Relais le Chateaux organisation the grand French institution has a reputation for culinary excellence and you’ll be pleased to hear this tradition is still alive and well.
Set amongst gardens adorned with columns and statues and a view to die for La Chevre d’Or is without a doubt one of the greatest gems of the French Riviera. Adorned with a beautiful history starring famous faces, stunning restaurants and sumptuous surroundings it would be criminal not to visit La Château de La Chèvre d’Or on the Cote d’Azur.