Valbonne, Provence: tourism & sightseeing
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Valbonne is situated a few kilometres inland from Cannes and Antibes, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of south-east Provence. The original historical village (the part that attracts visitors) is now closely linked to the modern development and technology park at Sophia Antipolis.
For reasons that aren't clear to me Valbonne seems to be missing from many tourist guides to the Provence area. I can't imagine why, I thought it was very attractive and well worth exploring!
The old town in Valbonne is based around the 'Place des Arcades' - arcades are the stone sheltered arched areas around the edge of the square that once provided shelter to merchants - which is a pretty square with cafes and a few shops.
In fact the various cafes more or less fill the square completely giving it a lovely atmosphere - if you are like us you will find you spend much more time in the centre of Valbonne than you expect!
The town is very unusual among medieval Provencal villages in that it follows a very precise, planned, grid layout with the streets all having the same width and standing at right angles to each other, following the original design established in 1519. This planning has more in common with the bastide towns of south-west France than the perched villages of Provence).
Likewise, the houses in Valbonne almost all follow the same design and originally had stables and livestock on the ground floor, living accommodation on the first floor, and then a hayloft on the top floor.
The streets are nicely maintained and lined with lots of stone and pastel painted houses, with exuberant plants adding a colourful touch. A few of the houses are now shops and boutiques but mostly they are still 'inhabited' houses. As the town follows this grid pattern you are less likely to get lost than in most Provencal villages!
There are numerous small architectural highlights and features - a fountain here, a sundial there, an ancient doorway - to discover in the attractive old town.
The most important buildings to 'break the pattern' in Valbonne are the Abbey Church (just outside the bottom of the old town); an ancient mill (moulin) by the river; and the ancient Church of Valbonne (that predates the official formation of the village).
The Chalaisian abbey church, now the village church for Valbonne, dates from the 13th century and preserves a good number of architectural elements in the roman style, although you will probably notice that the belltower is more recent: it was added in the 19th century.
After exploring the pretty streets be sure to allow time for a stop in one of the cafes and restaurants in Valbonne old town centre and absorb the atmosphere. Outside the upper of the town (towards the extensive parking area) there is also a row of more practical shops such as greengrocers and bakers.
While not a tourist destination it is interesting to note that Sophia Antipolis, an important centre in France for bringing together modern industries such as information technology and scientific research, and the closest that France has to it's own 'Silicon Valley', is just outside Valbonne.
Sophia Antipolis has brought a substantial amount of investment, development and people to the area - including a significant amount of development in the immediate area around Valbonne.
There are numerous small Provencal villages and towns worth exploring in the region around Valbonne, and east access to the resorts along along the coast of the riviera to the south. Our personal favourites are the extensive historical centre of Grasse, and the town of Antibes on the coast to the south-east of Valbonne.
Map of Valbonne and places to visit
Visit near Valbonne with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Alpes-Maritimes
Address: Valbonne, Bar-sur-Loup, Grasse, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence, 06560, France || GPS: latitude 43.6424, longitude 7.0095
Plan your visit to Valbonne, Provence
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Grasse: secteur sauvegarde (7km)
- Jardin de la Villa Fort de France: remarkable garden (8km)
- Gourdon: most beautiful village (9km)
- Marineland d'Antibes: aquarium (10km)
- Cannes: ville fleurie 4* (10km)
- Abbaye de Lerins (Cannes): religious monument (10km)
- Jardin botanique de la villa Thuret: remarkable garden (11km)
- Parc du château de la Napoule: remarkable garden (14km)
- Baou de Saint-Jeannet: site of natural beauty (16km)
- Grottes de Saint-Cezaire: site of natural beauty (16km)
Market days in Valbonne, France
Regular market(s) are held in Valbonne each Tuesday & Thursday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Valbonne (Francais)