•Alpes-Maritimes (06410) • Population: 5,575 • Altitude: 65 m
Biot is a very picturesque and very popular medieval village that's actually about 2500 years old. It sits on a hilltop only 4 km from the Mediterranean beaches between Antibes and Nice. Although the village gets crowded with tourists during the summer, it retains much of its natural charm and its feeling of antiquity, and is very active year-round.
Walk down the long street into the center of the village to find the Place des Arcades with the quiet feeling of the 16th century.
Pottery and Glass
Biot has been a source of pottery since antiquity. The region is rich in fine clays, sand, manganese and even volcanic tufa for making the kilns. (Read "Under Sophia" in A Brief Geological Tour.) Amphorae made in Biot were exported worldwide, from Antibes and Marseilles, until the 18th century.
Biot is currently renowned for its glass works, typically a clear or colored transparent glass with little bubbles. There are several glassworks down the hill around the outskirts of the village, and you can watch the glass-blowing process as the pieces are made.
Several local glass works are listed below, under Pottery
The center of an ancient volcano is located about 2 km northwest of the village. Clearly visible on geographic maps, there isn't much to see now, except some of the typical rock forms. The tufa stone from Biot has been extracted for millennium for building ovens. One local (and very good) restaurant is named "La Pierre à Four" (the oven stone).
You can visit the location by walking (or driving) out of the village towards Valbonne. A few hundred meters up the road, a small road branches off to the right just before the little Notre-Dame chapel. Follow this road 1 km through a residential area to a small intersection with a cement power pylon. Turn left and follow this little road another km. When the road climbs a steep hill, you'll be ascending the side of the volcano.
History of Biot
First record, 12th century Buzot
Celto-Ligurian: The main oppidum of the Oxybiens was located here, the nearest secure site to the Ligurian port (now the Parc de Vaugrenier).
Gallo-Roman: The Romans were here from 154 BC. and annexed the village in 42 BC. when they took control of the entire coastal region. Several vestiges remain of the Roman presence, including inscriptions, steles and a mausoleum at the "Chèvre d'Or".
Medieval: Biot belonged to the Count of Provence until 1209 when he gave it to the Templiers. From 1312, the Bishops of Grasse shared rule with the Hospitalers de St. Jean de Jerusalem, who took over when the Templiers "fell". The village was nearly wiped out by the plague at the end of the 14th century. In the middle of the 15th century Biot was fortified and repopulated.
46 rue St Sébastien
Tel : 0493 657 800
Musée d'Histoire Locale
Located in the village, in the old Chapelle de Pénitents.
Tel: (33) 493 65 54 54
Musée Fernand Léger
About 1 km southeast of the village (towards the beach)
Tel: (33) 492 91 50 30
Biot is linked to the coastal towns by bus.
The Biot train station is on the main Cannes-Nice rail line, but it's on the coast 4 km from the village.
• Latitude, Longitude: 43.627233, 7.099022
The Sentier de la Brague.
This lovely trail follows the river Brague all the way between Biot and Valbonne, and is mostly in heavy shade through the woods -- excellent for a hot summer's day. The path is marked as a 3h10 hike from one end to the other, but that time is for a very leisurely walk.
To find the start, walk up the road out of the village towards Valbonne. About 50 m along the road is the little Place Saint-Eloi on the left, and the Chemin Joseph Durbec angles off to the left past the square (marked as a dead-end road for cars). A 10-minute hike to the end of the road brings you to a "Sentier de la Brague" sign at the top of some steps leading down into the woods.
The woods are lovely, the river sounds fresh and nice, and the good path is easy to follow without a map. (About half way to Valbonne, just after you cross under the road, the main path turns left up the bank away from the river, but follows along the top of the bank before dropping down again; the straight-ahead branch beside the river will soon stop.)
There's only one spot along the river where detergent flows in, with accompanying suds and smell; most of the length of the river is fairly clean and lovely, with lots of fish visible. (Spring 1997: the detergent, flowing from a side stream out of Sophia Antipolis, is worse, polluting the lower half of the river.)