Kids, young and old, are fascinated by cacti. Two great gardens lie on the Riviera – one atop the hill at Eze-Village and the other in Monaco. Both afford spectactular views of the coast and a myriad of species.
Eze-Village – if quaint perched villages are your cup of tea, and you’d relish a vigourous walk uphill through serpentine cobblestone walkways to get to the garden, then this is the place for you.
The Present structure of the village goes back to the Middle Ages but Eze has been occupied since the Bronze Age. Since then, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans and Monegasques have used the site. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that its inhabitants opted for annexation to France.
The Jardin Exotique is a lushly landscaped garden of exotic plants and cacti, aloes and agaves that was developed by Louis XIV. It decorates the summit of the village and with incredible views of the sea from any vantage point.
Open everyday from 9:30am to 5pm (winter) ; longer hours in summer – 9am to 8pm in July/August
Adults: € 5
Students, Groups (10+): € 2,50
Children under 18: € 1
Ezasques, children under 11 years: Free
Monaco – this historic garden was begun by Prince Albert I and took 20 years to complete. Clinging to rocky cliffs 300 feet above Monaco’s Mediterranean cost, more than 10,000 plants from 3,000 species, most of them cacti or other succulents, rise in spiky profusion. Part of the garden is always in bloom.
While excavating for the garden, an underground grotto was discovered at the base of the cliff. It is the largest cave of its type in Europe with a constant temperature of 18 degrees celcius year-round. It has stalagtites (top-down) and stalagmites (bottom-up) galore and contains 250,000-year-old animal bones and artifacts from prehistoric man. Be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes (as it’s slippery down there), and be prepared for quite a hike (300 steps down and back up again).
Children (6-18): €3.50
Students (max 30) €3.50
Senior (65+) €5.20
Summer 15 May – 15 Sept 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Winter 16 Sept – 14 May 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. or dusk