frightful, sweet, bitter, and that is everything."
Artistically graced Biot has a long history of both bitter and sweet.
These days, the village flaunts a radiant ambience
that will happily distract you on an easy-to-plan outing.
On the flip side, there's no way to deny this charming and delicious
hill-town had a long road to hoe before its bedeviled history
made a sharp left turn to enlightenment.
Sweet and sour sometimes makes the best brew.
In this case, it's both revealing and fun to dig into Biot's devilish past
while basking in its the-sun-is-always-shining present.
Ideally situated on the French Riviera between Antibes and Cannes, Biot
savors a secure position in a country brimming with artistically rich communities.
Renown for glassware, pottery and traditional craft, Biot is an artisan's paradise.
It's a great stop for a gentle wander, mixing in a little culture (watch artists blow glass), history (winding street once hosted both pirates and Knights Templar) and
as we all must do in southern France, enjoy a long lunch on a sunny terrace.
What could be more French than that?
scenic ramparts, an ancient church or two and a couple of inviting cafés.
Biot offers this and more, its Riviera charm extending beyond the norm.
Old city walls, medieval gateways, stone passageways and picturesque arcades
paint a particularly charming picture for Biot's most famous enterprise.
Local crafts include pottery, ceramics and -- most well known -- Biot
bubble glass, all on offer in the town center.
Modern art flourishes in this ancient town that was
once conquered by the Romans.
Side by side, the ancient and the au courant swim in tandem,
a delightful melody of Provencal genius.
"L'oeuvre d'art, c'est une idée qu'on exagère."
"A work of art is an idea that someone exaggerates."
André Gide, French author & Nobel Peace Prize winner for literature
is the well respected La Verrerie de Biot.
Tradition, craftsmanship, and an opportunity to watch artists
at work should you choose a tour.
You'll be able to take home a beautiful memory of Biot directly
from the talented hands of the souffleurs* who toil in a family
enterprisethat's been in business since 1956.
I wasn't expecting a French language tutorial in Biot but here you go,
hope you learn from my own awkward attempts to converse.
Much like the English language, the "rules" don't always apply.
Tradition would teach us that Biot would be pronounced Bee-oh with the "t" silent. But no, much like knee, salmon and mortgage, Biot changes the rules.
The correct pronunciation is Bee-Ott. Go figure.
One more reason to stick to bonjour and merci.....
As if that's not enough drama, on one occasion, the unlucky village
was given away much like an unlucky bride or an old pair of shoes.
In 1209, the Count of Provence donated the township to the Knights Templar.
Once their domination ended, it was appropriated a second time, gifted
on a silver platter to the Knights Hospitaler.*
*later known Knights of Malta
But there were good times too.
Antique terracotta olive jars dated 20,000 years ago were discovered,
proving there were times of plenty during the age of the Romans.
Made entirely by hand -- no pottery wheel for these artists -- the
ancient amphorae once held precious olive oil from local growers.
Take note of the olive trees that still surround the community.
One could make the case that Biot's craftsmanship passed
from one hand to the next generation throughout the years.
Little wonder today's residents are so artistically gifted.
Completed in the 15th century, the church is unique in that you enter the church
and walk down a staircase to the central nave.
Ancient frescoes, beautiful stained glass and an eerie silence
make this a special place.
"There are times when we stop. We sit still.... We listen
and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper."
James Carroll, American author/historian
the day I visited but I remain a fawning fan of its artist's legacy.
Musée Nationale Fernand Léger offers the opportunity to see some
450 works of the avant-garde artist in a dreamy setting.
In case you don't "get" his experimental art, consider this.
Christies Auction house currently has an estimate on
one of his works priced at well over $31,000,000.
Just so you know, you can fly to France, stay in a lovely B&B, have
a really good lunch, and visit his museum for less than that....
but don't go on Tuesday, or you too will miss it.
Celebrating the age when knights, kings, warrior-monks and popes ruled much
of the world, this is not the cheesy commercial version we (too) often see.
*I have not confirmed if this is an annual event; perhaps one of my in-the-know readers could confirm or elaborate.
Featuring tournaments, falconry displays, games, ceremonial dancing,
leatherwork workshops and all things medieval, the festival culminates
in a torch-lit parade at sunset.
And it's FREE!
A little something to add to your already-too-long wish-list.... tunic
and codpiece not required.
So all you lords & ladies out there, I tell ye truth; come hither to Biot's medieval
festival whose strangeness and beauty doth taketh my breath away.....
sultry fantasy and Mediterranean cuisine.
If you need a slightly quieter version of the dream and a good dose of art,
surely you'll enjoy the little perched village christened Biot.
"So have adventures. Go exploring. Drive around at midnight.
Feel the wind running through your hair. Life is short, my darling.
And there's no day like today."
Morgan Matson, American novelist
Make today a good one.
It's never too late to throw caution to the wind and make your dreams come true.
Consider a visit to Biot and the French Riviera, one of life's greatest pleasures.