During my time working as an au pair in France, I lived very close to Biot and spent a lot of my time in the village. It’s small and quaint but with a lively spirit and a rich artistic heritage – here’s a few of the things you can get up to there.
WANDER AROUND THE VILLAGE
Rue Saint Sebastien is the main street in Biot which features a few cafés, art studios and gift shops. It’s very unique and quaint with a nice community feel but I would suggest heading further out of the main area to experience the charm of this village. The first time I visited Biot was with some family friends and we spent ages walking around the small side streets and cobbled alleys. The village is built on a hill so there is a bit of climbing if you’re choosing to skirt around the outside like us in search of cute walls and houses. We made a comment about how difficult it would be to live there after seeing a woman carrying her bags of shopping up what seemed to be endless numbers of steps – but don’t get me wrong, living there would also be a dream and you’d save on a gym membership too! As always, I was the queen of poor footwear choices and decided to wear my heeled boots which was a massive regret (my feet are still suffering to this day) So my top tip would be to plan for some relatively steep climbing and deffo take advantage of all the pretty little side streets Biot has to offer. My fave area was ‘Porte des Tines’ which is a cute bridge at the bottom of the village.
The houses are very rustic and not in immaculate condition like neighbouring villages on the Côte d’Azur but I think that just adds to the charm of the place. Hanging your clothes out of the window to dry and using a motorbike or bicycle as your only way of transport to your door is way of daily life and it was really interesting to wander around and see what other little things I could find.
CHECK OUT THE ART
It’s clear that the village has a very artistic heritage – everywhere you look there seems to be a statue or a painting or an art shop. You can even head into the tourist office and pick up a leaflet showing all the studios and galleries where you can pop in and meet the artists themselves. The Rue Saint Sebastien has many art shops and ‘Place des Arcades’ has an impressive display of sculptures but heading further down and out of the village will bring even more options to appeal to your inner artist.
LA VERRERIE DE BIOT
Glass blowing is a hot topic in Biot and ‘La Verrerie de Biot’ is one of the best places to see it in action. It is located outside of the village at the bottom of the hill but you can walk down to it using the main road (but be aware that there is no pavement and it can be pretty busy with vehicles – it’s an accident waiting to happen so hopefully a better route will be figured out soon!) The walk isn’t too long and is sign posted as the first left after ‘Biot 3000 Commercial Centre’ but you can always get the #10 Envibus from ‘Biot Village’ in the centre of town and get off at ‘Biot 3000’ for a bit more of a safer journey.
The verrerie (sort of translated as a place where glass is produced/sold in English but it’s one of those words which is easier just to use as its french name) makes glass there and then which you can see being made by a group of glassblowers. It’s so fascinating to watch a vase or bowl being made from start to finish and I spent quite a long time taking in the process (and feeling the pain of the glass blower when a vase would occasionally break off from the creating platform) For a price of €48, you can even arrange a glass blowing course where you can make your own masterpiece for yourself.
Biot is actually a big name in the glass world since it was there where ‘bubble glass’ was created. You’ve probably seen it somewhere before – glass which has many little air bubbles in which gives it a cool textured look. The verrerie sells a large selection of bubble glass from vases to plates to cups. If you’re anything like me – a cash strapped, budget abiding au pair – it’s probably going to be more of a window shopping affair as the prices are way out of my reach so I was incredibly cautious not to break anything (it’s deffo not a place to bring three overly excited under 10 year olds which is the mistake my host mum made on my first visit there!) Nevertheless, it was so interesting to watch how the glass was made and a good way to find out more about the glassblowing roots of Biot.
MUSÉE FERNAND LÉGER
Sticking to the bottom of the village, arty sort of vibe; the Musée Fernand Léger is an art gallery filled with work from french artist ‘Fernand Léger’. I’d never heard of him before but he’s quite a big name in the art world (my artist knowledge is next to nothing anyway) It’s one of those places which feels like a proper art gallery – you know those places with massive white walls with big canvas’ where you can literally hear a penny drop. It gave off that sort of vibe and I enjoyed looking at all the work on show. Even the building itself is like a work of art with its large painted mural on the wall outside and light and airy rooms. Inside, there are many rooms filled with artwork, information about Fernand Léger and even a cinema showing ‘Le Ballet Mécanique’ – Légers first film which he created in 1924 (he was clearly a man of many talents!) These talents are extended outdoors where the beautiful gardens surrounding the museum are filled with Léger’s sculptures and huge paintings. I used my student card to give me free access to the museum and there are also discounts to be had for the elderly and families. It is a bit of a trek from the main village but getting the #10 Envibus to the stop ‘Fernand Léger’ will take you just a short walk from the museum.
GRAB A BITE TO EAT
One of my absolute favourite foods ever is crêpes so if I see them on a menu, I know I’m in for a good meal. So simple, so cheap and so many different flavour combos – what’s not to like? ‘Auberge du Vieux Village’ is located at the end of Rue Saint Sebastien on the main road and sells quite possibly the best crêpes I’ve eaten in France (and with my crêpe eating tendancies, that’s a BIG statement!) Because I lived so close to Biot, I often popped in there for lunch and can proudly say that I have tried and tested a fair amount on the menu. My fave is the ‘Alfred’ which is just cheese, eggs, mushrooms, ham and onions for only €11! There’s so many other combos which you can read here If you’re visiting, make sure you pop into the toilets to see the coolest door ever (it’s weird suggesting to go to the toilet but trust me on this one)
HOW TO GET THERE
You may think that getting off at ‘Biot Train Station’ would get you close to the centre (I would have thought this too had I known no different) But no – unless you fancy a 3km trek up to the village, I would suggest taking the bus instead. From outside the train station, turn left and you’ll come to the stop ‘Gare SNCF Biot’; get the #10 Envibus to ‘Biot Village’ and you’re right in the centre of the action. It costs just €1.50 and a muchhhh quicker and easier option than walking. The bus operates between Antibes and Valbonne Village/Sophia Antipolis bus station so it’s easy to get to Biot from there. if you’re coming from Cannes or Nice direction, get the Lignes d’Azur bus #100 and get off at ‘Gare SNCF Biot’ before getting the #10 bus into the village.
Whether you’re into your art, fancy a go at creating a glass masterpiece or just wanting to see a bit of typical french charm, Biot is the place to be. If you go, you’re sure to be in for a truly biot-iful day out!