Biot is a lovely picturesque old town located up in the hills of Antibes. This Medieval town is full of culture, history and art.
Founded by Celts, invaded by Romans, taken over by pirates, ruled by medieval knights and sacked by the black plague: the old town of Biot has a rich history spanning over 2000 years. Today, Biot is a charming town famous for its glassblowing,ceramics and pottery, as well as its shady cafes, jumble of medieval buildings and pretty hilltop views across the French Riviera. The village has the feel of an artist's colony,with lots of open workshops where you can go in and watch artists create their pieces. or just stroll through cobbled streets framed by stone archways and glimpses of the sea.
Artists of all types can be found gathering in this medieval village to enjoy its rich and artistic culture. Workshops are dotted around the village with artists opening their doors and welcoming guests to watch them create their pieces.
Lovely French bistros and restaurants line the old town and bars welcome guests in to try the local Provencal wines. While craft shops and galleries invite you to explore their produce and the historical stone buildings demonstrate the history and past of this village.
Biot has so much to explore from the museums and galleries to the shops and workshops, you can spend days discovering and enjoying all that it has to offer. Being so conveniently located to the coast it makes for a wonderful place to stay or visit whilst on holiday in Antibes.
History & Culture in Biot
Biot show signs of being occupied in the Prehistoric period. After this it was mainly ruled by tribes who were in conflict with the city of Antipolis (Antibes) throughout the ruling. Once it had been taken over by the Romans it remains the same for five centuries building. The Romans built a community, set up businesses and built monuments; some of which can still be seen in the town today.
After the Roman period and the Medieval age, about which much is not known, Biot was given to the Knight Templars by the Earl of Provence in 1209. The knights were donated and purchased the majority of the land and housing meaning Biot became a united town once again.
When the Knight Templars crumbled the town was given to the Saint John of Jerusalem and the Bishop of Grasse. It remained in their ownership until the French revolution. When the revolution came round the village was raided by gangs and was riddled with the black plague, causing destruction and devastation. The church was destroyed and in 1387 Biot was eventually abandoned as villagers fled and only criminals and gangs remained.
In 1470 King Rene recruited Italian families to inhabit the town once again and re-build it to what it once was. The families settled here and it slowly started to become prosperous and beautiful once again. It has stayed this way right up until today. The trade of the town has however changed over the years from crops to pottery and from jar making to a technological community.
The pottery trade and agriculture remained an important focus for the trade in Biot until the 1960’s when the need for these things had declined. The opening of the glass factory in 1956 by Eloi Monod gave Biot a new wave of arts culture, and in 1970 the creation of the Sohia-Antipolis business park bought a different technological trade to the village. Being one of Europe’s leading technological communities it bought with it many companies that are involved in advance technology. The Nice Sophia Antipolis University research centre is also now based in Biot.
With all this development came the creation of suburbs and with the suburbs came the arts. The glass factory is known for its wonderful bubble glass and you can explore the history and making of this beautiful glass artwork at the La Verrerie de Biot. Biot has now become a huge centre for arts and crafts with various Galleries and Museums as well as wonderful shops and studios.
Sights & Attractions in Biot
The art lover has found heaven in Biot. The most famous attraction is the Fernand Leger Museum at the bottom of the village, dedicated to the French Cubist artist. Here, even the building is a work of art- the giant murals on its face were initially intended for the exterior of the Hanover Stadium! Also at the bottom of the village is the famous glassblowing workshop La Verriere de Biot, where Biot's famous 'bubble glass' was invented; you can even take a class. Back in the village there's also the History and Ceramic Museum, where you can learn about the town's history as an artist's colony from the 1600's and see the giant pots the town was so well known for. Walk through the town, visiting jewellers, painters, ceramists, sculptors and many more art workshops to watch the wonderful pieces being made. For those who love the Japanese art of Bonsai, there is a museum here for that too.
Beaches in Biot
The beach at Biot is covered in smooth stones rather than sand, with a huge stretch of beach that stretches all the way to Nice. You can rent paddleboards, kayaks and other water toys, or just swim in the calm waters and sunbathe. In the evening, join the local crowd enjoying the long summer twilight with a picnic on the beach. If you're looking for a sand beach then you should head down to Antibes or Juan les Pins, or travel past Nice to the stunning beaches at Villefranche and Cap D'ai- well worth the trip.
Events in Biot
Every Tuesday Biot hosts its Provencal market. Fresh produce, crafts, nic nacs and a friendly stall hosts give you the true French market experience. In September Biot also hosts the Italian market where you can enjoy all the Italian delicaces, delicious fresh produce and warm friendly atmosphere that comes from this neighbouring country.
Things to Do in Biot
Biot is an extremely interesting and culture rich place to visit. With a variety of galleries, museums, workshops and shops there is plenty to enjoy and do. There are regular sightseeing tours form the tourist office where experienced guides will take you around this beautiful town. Alternatively you can download a free audio guide to your iPhone or smartphone via the App store or Android store and discover the town at your own pace.
Once you have experienced the culture of Biot, or if the summer heat proves too much, then you can head to the beautiful coast of Antibes. With wonderful beaches only a 10 minute drive away you can enjoy all the activities the sparkling ocean has to offer. Relax on the beach with its gradual sand rolling into the sea it is great for families, and children can splash around in the shallow waters.
If you fancy something more active why not head out into the blue ocean and enjoy some watersports. Wakeboarding, water-skiing and banana boating are among the few you can get wet and enjoy. With children in tow Marineland waterpark is a must. A short drive from Biot this waterpark has aquariums, animal shows and even some water rides – fun for kids and adults!
If you want to venture further along the coastline then you can hire a yacht or boat for the day. With its amazing ports housing some of the largest boats in Europe you can join in the elite and hop on board and enjoy the wonderful coast for the day. Take a luxurious day trip to the popular St Tropez, explore the lovely towns along the coast or simply anchor out in the ocean and enjoy the peaceful sound of the waves.
Biot has two golf courses very nearby. The 18-hole Biot Golf Course is one of the oldest courses on the Riviera, offering a flat, lovely, (if very short) course of some difficulty. It offers gorgeous views of the old village of Biot, as well as a friendly club which welcomes non-members with a good restaurant, club rental, lessons, driving range and pro-shop. In nearby Sophia Antipolis, you'll find Le Provencal Golf, a 9 hole architect-designed course offering narrow fairways and stunning views of the Alps.
Dining in Biot
The French Riviera and Provence is known for its wonderful food and wine and when staying in Biot this is no exception. Located just outside of Biot near to the coast in the medivial city of Cagnes sur mer is Fleur de Sel. The cosy traditional interior and warm setting combines with wonderful Provencal dishes to make this a gourmet dining experience.
Les Arcades is the oldest restaurant in Biot, a favourite with locals and tourists the simple fresh French dishes and wonderful wine make it the perfect spot to absorb the art and culture of Biot. You can sit out on the terrace shaded by greenery or inside at one of the large wooden tables.
There are also plenty of small French bistros with set menus that will serve the traditional Provencal dishes and pizzerias serving freshly made pizzas. If it is a French crepe you are after then we have heard that Auberge du Vieux Village at the entrance to the old village serves a range of wonderful crepes, they even do a pizza crepe which is their speciality.
Nightlife in Biot
Biot hillltop village is just that, a village, and has little to no nightllife apart from a couple of small bars and cafes to drink wine under the stars. Down on the coast you'll find the vibrant Casino Siesta on the beach has DJ's and stays open late in the summer, but Biot is not exaclty the focal point of nightlife on the Riviera. Head to Antibes if you want to spend your night in an unpretentious bar, while if you want nightclubs, head down the coast to Juan les Pins or Cannes or to Nice and Monaco in the other direction.
Hotels in Biot
Biot has a number of hotels , B&Bs and aparthotels where you can stay and enjoy Biot and the surrounding areas.
Les Arcades is a wonderful and unique little hotel located in the heart of Biot with only a dozen rooms. This quirky hotel has designed each room separately with individual pieces of artwork hanging on the walls and a different theme or atmosphere to each room. The restaurant creates delicious Mediterranean dishes made from fresh local produce and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The hotel also boasts its own art gallery where you can browse the artwork hanging in the cool stone room.
For a more traditional B&B head to the Bastide Valmasque. Just outside of Biot with views over the Biot golf course this charming little B&B has a lovely garden, terrace and grounds, making it a great place to escape to. The five uniquely designed rooms, of which 2 are suites, all have en-suite bathrooms. Claire and Christine also invite you to participate in a cooking class for the day where using the fresh local ingredients you can learn how to prepare traditional Provencal dishes, and best of all you get to enjoy your hard work with lunch at the end.
At the foot of the Biot village is the Domaine du Jas a truly charming little hotel decorated in a Provencal style. With a lovely terrace and swimming pool area in a peaceful and quiet setting.
There is a train station at Biot on the seafront- but be aware that Biot is actually a town of two parts: new Biot on the coast (where the train station is) and the old village up on the hill- which is almost certainly what you've come to see. There is a bus (No. 10) running between the train station and the old village- but be check times before you go, particularly on Sundays when there's a very limited schedule. Many a grumpy tourist before you has been stuck with the 4km long hot walk in the sun up to the village! There's also a bus that passes through old Biot from Nice or Cannes (the 200), but be aware that it is much slower than the train.