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Valbonne, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
Valbonne is a very beautiful little old town, built in a peaceful valley bursting with Mediterranean vegetation.
It is very chic and residential and has grown tremendously since the beginning of the 70s, at the same time as the nearby Sophia-Antipolis science park. The engineers and researchers from all over the world who work there have either bought or built villas and country houses in the surrounding area.
Valbonne is lucky in that it has a historic centre sheltered by its rampart of village houses, conserving its charm. It is a delightful place to visit, and what’s more it has been beautifully restored and maintained.
Valbonne town hall
Ochre stone house fronts with pastel coloured shutters, porches smothered in vines or exuberant bougainvilleas, doors with lintels decorated with the emblems of penitents and journeymen, the beautiful building housing the “mairie” and its 19th century belfry, and everywhere you turn there are little restaurants with tables in the street, in the shade provided by historic old houses… Valbonne is just amazing.
The original feature of Valbonne is that, unlike most medieval Provencal villages, it was built according to an urban grid pattern (the streets intersect at right angles), dating back to the early 16th century.
Valbonne, square with terraces
It is a very pleasant village to visit (and no doubt to live in), where it is relaxing to stroll along the pretty streets on a slight slope, all taking you down to the Renaissance era Place a Arcades, where you can partake of a delightful lunch on one of the restaurant terraces.
Valbonne, antiques shop
You can do some shopping too; the pretty fashion shops, antique dealers and interior decoration boutiques vie with each other for attractiveness and chic. If you prefer historical heritage, you must visit the monastery founded in the year 1200 by the Chalaisian religious order. It was built in the Romanesque-Gothic style and was recently restored. It has a Romanesque portal and altar, 18th century head reliquaries, a chapterhouse, a treasure room and the monks’ dormitory.
Finally, don’t leave Valbonne without tasting the local speciality, a wine made using Servan grapes, a variety which it is said “keeps until Easter”…so don’t wait any longer before trying it.
If you are driving here, there are private parking spaces for 2 to 3 vehicles within the property. Otherwise, it’s possible to walk or cycle to the village of Valbonne.
If you’re flying in to Nice International Airport, it’s only about 16km away.
If you’re planning to explore further afield, there’s a train station that’s painted a striking red so you can’t miss it. You can catch services to all kinds of places on the French Riviera and beyond from here. There are plenty of bus routes to choose from too, with the main bus station in the center of Valbonne, about a 15 min walk away. And don’t forget, you can always hire a taxi or private car!
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