Welcome to Valbonne, a well-kept secret of Cote d’Azur that seems to be missing from many travel blogs and guides. If it wasn’t for the fact that we found it by scanning Google Maps while looking for interesting and not-so-obvious places we would probably have missed it too! And that would be a shame as Valbonne is a truly delightful little village that is worth exploring. What’s more, it’s a little bit different from other villages in the South of France… Have we made you curious? Keep reading and discover things to do in Valbonne village in France.
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Valbonne, France FAQ
Valbonne is located inland in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region in Southeastern France. It’s just a short drive from popular places like Nice, Cannes, Grasse, or Antibes.
Yes, Valbonne is definitely worth visiting. In our opinion, it’s one of the best places to visit in Cote d’Azur! Valbonne is pretty, charming, peaceful, well-preserved, and yet undiscovered by many. It can be a perfect quiet escape from bustling cities on the coast. You won’t find dozens of exciting things to do in Valbonne, but even despite that you shouldn’t skip a visit to this village while in the area.
Valbonne is best known for its distinctive street grid layout which is completely different from other places on Cote d’Azur, and for being home to Europe’s first and largest technology park – Sophia Antipolis.
Valbonne means “the good valley” in Provençal.
Short history of the Valbonne village
Valbonne’s rich history starts in the Iron Age. It was confirmed thanks to many items found during excavations, like Neolithic stone axes and Bronze Age funeral urns. In 1199, the Bishop of Antibes granted the land to the Abbey of Prads, which led to the creation of the Abbey of St. Mary. After a turbulent late Middle Ages marked by wars, droughts, and the Black Death plague, inhabitants fled leaving the abbey and its surroundings abandoned.
Area was called Vallis Bona (The Good Valley) until 1519 when the town of Valbonne was officially founded by Augustin Grimaldi, the Regent of Monaco and Bishop of Grasse. The village was designed by adopting a unique grid pattern influenced by Roman military camps with two principal streets intersecting at the central square. The original grid consisted of 10 streets crossing 10 streets but over the years the village has progressively expanded. In the 17th century, arcades were added to the square and it became known as la Place des Arcades.
Nowadays, Valbonne boasts a unique design that is completely different from typical circular villages spiraling around the hill. Thankfully, even though the population of Valbonne has significantly increased in recent years and a huge technology park was built in the area, the village managed to retain much of its centuries-old charm that enchants visitors.
Things to do in Valbonne village
Valbonne old town streets
Valbonne old town follows a grid layout with all streets having the same width, standing at right angles to each other. It’s actually a nice and refreshing change from the winding and hilly streets of other nearby Provencal villages! And there is no better way to discover all the secrets they hide than to slowly wander among them. Quaint stone and pastel-painted buildings, lush colorful plants, cozy squares, cafes, restaurants, art galleries, boutique shops… Wherever you turn, you’ll find something interesting among Valbonne old town streets. You’ll find plenty of cats as well, at least we did!
Among Valbonne village streets you’ll find points of interest like Place des Arcades – the village main square with arcades that once provided shelter to merchants and the Old Town Hall with tower and fountain that now serves as a Valbonne Tourist Information.
Just outside the last street of Valbonne old town, you’ll find one more place worth visiting – Valbonne Abbey (fr. Abbaye De Valbonne). It dates back to the 13th century when it was built by the monks from the Order of Chalais. Abbey was restored and enlarged in the 19th century and also the tower was added. Nowadays it serves as Valbonne parish church under the name of Saint-Blaise. It’s beautiful from the outside and very simple inside. It can be visited for free.
Events in Valbonne
Throughout the year, Valbonne hosts several events and festivals. So if you’re up for celebrating and dancing be sure not to miss them! The most popular ones include Rue(z) & You: Festival des Arts de la Rue in July, Fete de la Saint Roch in August, and Feast of St. Blaise in January. To learn more about them visit the france-voyage.com website.
Valbonne Provencal market takes place weekly on every Friday morning. It’s located at Place des Arcade and some adjoining streets. There you’ll find products like fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, spices, clothes, cheese, or wines.
Valbonne flea market takes place at the Place des Arcades on the first Sunday of every month. If you’re looking for some antiques or bizarre items – this is the place.
How to get to Valbonne, France?
Valbonne is located about 40km from Nice, 15km from Cannes or Antibes, 10km from Grasse, and 7km from Mougins. The most convenient way to get to the village is by car or bus.
Where to park in Valbonne?
If you’re traveling by car you can leave your car in this big and free parking lot, located right next to the entrance to Valbonne old town.
Airports near Valbonne
The closest airport to Valbonne is located in Nice, about 25km from the village. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus connection to the village so your best and fastest option is to take a taxi (25min). You can also first get to Cannes or Nice and then take a bus to Valbonne. To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website. You can also hire a car at Nice airport and then get to Valbonne.
To Valbonne by bus
From some places you can also reach Valbonne by bus. For example, a trip from Cannes will take about 30min (€3), 2h20min from Nice (€5), and 45min from Antibes (€3). To learn more about bus connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Valbonne by taxi
The most expensive option, but also the fastest one if you care about time. For example, a trip from Cannes will take only about 15min (€30-40) and 30min from Nice (€75-95). To learn more about taxi connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
Valbonne Village in France – Summing up
Hopefully, now you understand why you should include Valbonne in your Cote d’Azur itinerary. It’s a truly charming and picturesque village where you can experience a real local vibe, instead of a touristy one. And thanks to the fact that it’s still undiscovered by many, exploring is even more exciting! Valbonne is an ideal place to slow down for a bit and enjoy the charm of the South of France with a square twist! We wish you an amazing time in this hidden gem of Cote d’Azur. Let us know how you liked it!
Our video from Valbonne
Our opinion about Valbonne
For us, a visit to Valbonne was a half-day trip from nearby Cannes where we lived for a few weeks. We visited it in mid-December and during that time the village was actually quite busy, especially in later hours! But not with tourists, just locals preparing for the Christmas Market and doing Christmas shopping.
As we wrote at the beginning, we discovered Valbonne by chance and we’re so glad that we did, as it quickly became one of our favorite spots on Cote d’Azur. There might not be many things to do in the village but we spend a nice few hours just wandering across the streets of this unusual Provencal village. We think that Valbonne is a nice connection between medieval charm and French chic.
Oh, and there were a lot of cats to pet so… Valbonne bribed us! 😀
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Valbonne?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Valbonne:
Where to sleep in Valbonne?
Hotel les Armoiries
Nestled in the charming village of Valbonne, Hotel Les Armoiries exudes Provencal charm with its traditional architecture and modern comforts. The hotel features tastefully decorated rooms, each uniquely designed, offering a blend of contemporary amenities and rustic elegance. Guests can enjoy a tranquil retreat in the picturesque surroundings of Valbonne while being within easy reach of the French Riviera's vibrant attractions.
Demeure d’hotes Le Rocher
Set against the scenic backdrop of Valbonne, Demeure d'hotes Le Rocher offers a delightful escape in the heart of the French Riviera. This charming bed and breakfast provides elegantly decorated rooms with a blend of modern amenities and authentic Provençal style. Guests can enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings, while the vibrant attractions of the French Riviera are easily accessible from this idyllic retreat.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com