La Chevre d’Or in Eze: Splendor in the Sky above the French Riviera
EZE, FRANCE, July 15, 2018: Chateau de La Chevre d’Or clings to the rocky cliffs of Eze like a Valkyrie standing sentinel over the Mediterranean Sea. This legendary and amazing 5 star Relais & Chateaux luxury hotel fills the lower levels of the medieval village, and boasts a renowned restaurant of the same name under the direction of Two Michelin starred Chef Arnaud Faye.
La Chevre d’Or – The Golden Goat
The Golden Goat of its namesake is a reference to the animals that used to inhabit this towering mountaintop redoubt thousands of feet over the Cote d’Azur.
Now it is the symbol of this completely unique hotel and restaurant establishment. Synonymous with celebrity, privacy, and magnificent ambience, La Chevre d’Or is an experience that can be found in no other place.
La Chevre D’Or and the history of Eze
Eze was the retreat of a citadel of the Knights Templer, whose castle ruins sit at the top of the sheer granite cliffs. The village itself is quite small, a warren of structures some of them a thousand of years old.
Eze is a popular tourist attraction. It has hordes of visitors throughout the summer season. Its streets are filled with quaint shops and boutiques, and the ancient aura of the centuries.
Yet La Chevre d’Or remains an elite hideaway within the village. It is an outpost for the gliteratti and food adventurers who seek the treasures of a secret villa in the sky with Michelin starred cuisine to match.
La Chevre d’Or – The Hotel
With 31 individually styled rooms and 7 suites, each villa is its own private chamber of intimacy in a setting that is uniquely remarkable. It is the ultimate retreat for a mountain hideaway in 5 star luxury accommodations.
Famous for its spa and treatment regimens, it offers unparalleled views of the Mediterranean from Saint Jean Cap Ferrat to Monaco, and stretching down the length of the Cote d’Azur.
A swimming pool clings to the cliffside. Couples bask in the water while sipping champagne and looking down over the sheer rocky cliffs. It is a moment out of eternity.
Terraces seem to go down the hillside to level after level, as La Chevre d’Or sprawls impossibly across the surreal landscape. High above the hotel the ruins of the ancient citadel stand as a beacon to antiquity. This once mighty outpost of the Knights Templar, now a symbol of antiquity and the measured reaches of time.
La Chevre d’Or – The Restaurant
Dinner at La Chevre d’Or is an excursion to exquisite Haute Cuisine in a setting that is breathtaking. Two star Michelin Chef Arnaud Faye has been here for the last three years, retaining its two Michelin stars for the 17th year in a row.
Sous Chef Louis Gachet is his exceptional right hand man. The air of pride is palpable within the entire team at the restaurant. It is a tribute to the special place La Chevre d’Or has in the hearts of its staff.
Sommelier Claude Derrien is a formidable presence who has been here for 20 years. Matre’d Manon Leidelinger is in her third season here. She runs the evening with a flash of brilliance and an engaging personality.
Server Antoine Provenza brings an Italian spark to the evening, presenting each course with good humor and the delight of someone who loves what he is doing.
La Chevre d’Or – the Dining Room
The dining room sits on top of the hotel, at its highest levels, with exhilarating views of the coast and mountains through large floor to ceiling windows. In the distance is Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.
Just outside the window, looking above the terrace and bar, is the symbol of the hotel, the Golden Goat, standing like a beacon to existence and the improbable location of this landmark hotel and restaurant.
La Chèvre d’Or – The Bar and Terrace
The hotel lobby sits in a chandeliered stone chamber one floor down. The hotel bar is a medieval chamber of ancient stone that would make the Knights Templar feel at home. It is magnificently appointed.
Outside the bar a lengthy terrace welcomes visitors for before dinner drinks above a vista of paradise. It fills with awestruck guests as the day draws to a close. As the suns sets the golden glow of the Cote d’Azure is a vision of serenity from a terrace of the Gods, suspended in the air, clinging to the sky.
La Chèvre d’Or – The Meal begins
Up the stairs thru the lobby, it is time for dinner. The room is sparkling with cream colored walls, and crystal chandeliers. The setting, with only 12 tables, is nothing short of glorious.
Whimsical glass artworks of pears, peppers, apples and peapods by Patrick Larouche, reminiscent of Jeff Coons balloon animals, are placed throughout the room and on the tables.
Sommelier Claude Derrien begins the evening with an aperitif of Pierre Gerbais pink champagne from Celles sur Ource. Made of 100% pinot noir, it shimmers with a deep ruby red color, and a dry crisp taste from a master winemaker.
La Chevre d’Or – Amuse Bouche, Asperge and Artichokes
A flurry of amuse bouche follows. Foie Gras jelly balls are explosive and delightful, a creative wonder.
Zucchini beignets are fantastic, a stand out taste sensation of creative imagination.. It is the first volley of many in an epic 7 course dinner for the ages.
Spring asparagus, braised with grapefruit, smoked eel with olive tree wood and a sorbet of asparagus is a visual spectacle and a delightful starter.
The confluence of flavors distinctively complements the asparagus without overpowering its crisp freshness.
Artichoke stuffed with artichoke paste, topped with caviar and served in a lime broth is a sensational taste treat.
The meaty outer crust of the artichoke gives way to a sublime inner gelee of artichoke and olive oil. The caviar lends a salty overlay that is cut by the lightness of the lime broth.
La Chèvre d’Or – Wine and the Main Courses
The main courses are served with a Morey Saint Denis 2011 1st cru Res Rochets Pinot nor from Burgundy. Rich and smooth, it opens up beautifully over the course of the evening like a claret for the ages, perfectly complementing the food.
Fresh shellfish and crustaceans from the Mediterranean Sea, served as a soup “a la rouille”, is a refreshing bouillabaisse of shrimp, langoustine, squid and mussels.
The broth is a darker texture that lightly seasons the shellfish, while the combination of seafood is a reminder of the role the sea plays in the local cuisine of the Cote d’Azur.
Grilled red mullet with steamed green peas with a basil, creamy squid sauce is sensational. Red mullet is a staple of the Riviera, a firm fish that is flavorful, yet tender, sumptuously delicious under a lightly toasted skin.
La Chevre d’Or – Rabbit and Sweetbreads
Rabbit with smoked octopus, swiss chard, and morels mushroom with a wild herb juice is a an exquisite taste treat, worthy of comparison to a fine filet.
The rabbit is perfectly cooked, a medium rare extravaganza, tender, yet meaty. The octopus is perfect, tender, outstanding. The accompanying sauce tantalizes with its juicy quality.
The main courses reach their climax with a Chef special of sweetbreads and abalone strips with a fennel sauce. It is a rare taste treat in an age when abalone is hard to find.
Brilliantly nurtured sweetbreads are offset by the contrast with the abalone and fennel, giving a glimpse into the genius of Chef Arnault Fayes own unique take on contemporary Haute Cuisine.
La Chèvre d’Or – The Just Desserts
A dessert of top growth dark chocolate with Italian hazelnuts praline filling is fabulous. The chocolate is incredibly rich, but not too sweet, with the praline filling the mouth with awestruck glory.
A finale of Riviera lemon flavored with thyme is a visual treat and a culinary delight. A crisp formed lemon shell of cocoa butter is filled with a lemon sorbet that cleanses the pallet even as it lightens the soul.
La Chevre d’Or – the Evening winds down
The lights of the Cote d’Azure are ablaze in the hills above and the coastline below, stretching endlessly in all directions, as dinner draws to a close.
Some experiences are truly once in a lifetime events, and a journey to La Chevre’ d’Or and the glories of Eze are the very definition of a bucket list extravaganza worthy of the journey.
Leaving Eze through the gardens of the hotel at the end of the night, the inky blackness clinging to the sky, enhanced by twinkling lights of boats in the harbor below, instills a euphoric sense of awe.
Departing down the corniche to the coast below, it cannot help but feel like a grand illusion has suspended time and space, revealing the wonders of the sky along the magical cliffs of Eze. At La Chevre d’Or, these are the things that culinary dreams are made of.
Air France flies direct to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and from there to the rest of France and all of Europe from Washington, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a number of American cities.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal