Valbonne Visitor information
Valbonne is a commune near Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in the south-east of France. The name means 'the good valley' in Provençal, and has been a holiday destination loved by the Brits since Princess Margaret holidayed there in the early Sixties.
The village is in the commune of Valbonne Sophia Antipolis, which consists of the medieval village of Valbonne, and the technology park of Sophia Antipolis. The contrast between the heritage and history of the village and the high-tech and exciting ambience of Sophia Antipolis provides visitors to the area with plenty to explore and something for everyone.
There are lots of small and interesting shops to browse around in Valbonne, and plenty of restaurants to cater to all tastes. The first Sunday of every month sees a bric à brac and antiques market in the centre of Valbonne. There is a Provençal market every Friday from 7.30am to 1.30pm.
The best way to get around on public transport is by Envibus, as these serve Valbonne and the surrounding villages. Other than that, car hire is the only option.
Nice Cote d’Azur airport is 25km from Valbonne Sophia Antipolis which is about a 20 minute taxi ride away. The closest SNCF railway station is in the town of Antibes.
There are traces of prehistoric human settlement in the area that date back to the Iron Age, the first days of agriculture.
In the High Middle Ages several neighbouring hamlets already existed, but the small, isolated valley of Valbonne was deserted. In 1199 the land was offered by the bishop of Antibes to the abbey of Prads who founded the abbey of St. Mary.
At the end of the Middle Ages war, drought and the Black Death of 1351 caused the flight of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages, and left the abbey and its environs deserted.
The village is laid out along a grid pattern, under the influence of Roman military camps, with two principal avenues, arranged perpendicular to one another, and the forum at the intersection. Arcades were added to the central square in the 17th century and it became known as la Place des Arcades. Originally, the grid consisted of ten streets crossing ten streets but the village has progressively expanded around the center. The architectural plan of the village of Valbonne differs from that of many other villages located in the South of France which typically spiral around a hill. The construction took over a century, and the village remained relatively unchanged until the middle of the 20th century.
In the last century, a surrounding municipality of Valbonne has been constructed around the ancient village. Although the population of the town of Valbonne has greatly increased in recent years, the village itself has remained intact, retaining much of its 16th century charm.
Surrounding Valbonne, the proximity of the coast and especially the construction in the 1970s of the technology park Sophia Antipolis has transformed the region.