Verrerie de Biot
Want to see alchemy at its best? Then a visit to the Verrerie de Biot to watch master glass makers turn, blow and cut molten liquid into objects will fascinate you.
The Verrerie de Biot is all about Tradition
The glass tradition in the South of France is very ancient with master glass-makers settling there due to the many large pine forests that provided a never-ending supply of wood for their furnaces. Further afield, sand, lime and sodium carbonate were brought in on the back of mules and soon cruets for olive oil, demijohns for wine, oil lamps for lighting, and bottles for perfumes from Grasse provided enough work for them and locals alike.
But Biot’s renown really began in 1956 with the creation of La Verrerie de Biot and bubbled glass.
Eloi Monod, a chemical engineer from l’Ecole de Sèvres, came to live in Biot in 1941 to work at La Poterie Provençale, owned by René Augé-Laribé. Here he met Lucette, the owner’s daughter who became his wife a few years later. Eloi had the idea to swap the clay for glass to produce glassware inspired by the local pottery’s ancestral forms and reintroduce the art of blown glass first discovered in Spain and Italy. In 1956, in collaboration with René and a young apprentice, he established la Verrerie de Biot.
Monod and Augé-Laribé mastered bubble glass by adding chemicals to a glass batch, which reacted to produce random air bubbles during the melting process, and imprisoning them between two layers of glass to transform a defect (a bubble) into a feature of quality: bubbled glass. Special tools allow the master glass-blower to manipulate the bubbles into certain designs.
So successful and popular was Monod in his endeavours that he served as mayor of Biot from 1965-1971.
In 1974 Monod sold the Verrerie de Biot to the Lechaczynski family who continue to remain faithful to his three golden rules: authenticity, originality and diversity. 15 master glass-blowers work by hand, blowing and working the glass in public to produce glasses, cups, jugs, plates, vases, dishes, chandeliers or candle holders coloured in green, Persian blue, golden yellow, lime, white, and desert rose.
What do all these objects have in common? Well, apart from the fact that they’re made from bubbled glass, each item is a creation of the master glass-blower and totally unique and without equivalent in the world.
In 2000 Jean and Danièle Lechaczynski passed on the running of the business to their children who continue with the successful management of this family enterprise and as Anne Lechaczynski says “they are manufacturing the traditional products with the style of the day but also adding an innovation and a permanent modernism“.
Master Glass Blowers
Glass could not exist without its master glass-blower. Each creation requires special attention, creativity and concentration. Apprentice glass-blowers are called “gamins” and aged between 16 and 18 years old when they are hired at La Verrerie de Biot. They then undergo training passing through 7 successive stages or grades becoming master glass-blowers at the end of 8 to 10 years.
The ultimate aim is for each “gamin” to become a master glass-blower. If the latter has the ability and desire to create, to express his artistic talent through glass, everything is done to help him until he is ready to ‘fend’ for himself.
In 2000 Jean and Danièle Lechaczynski passed on the running of the business to their children who continue with the successful management of this family enterprise and as Anne Lechaczynski says “they are manufacturing the traditional products with the style of the day but also adding an innovation and a permanent modernism”.
In all there are about 12 other verreries in Biot that create competing designs. Many glass artists from all over France and other European countries now train in Biot and set up their workshops there.
Glass-blowing instruction Courses
La Verrerie de Biot also offers a course on glass-blowing. A master glass-maker will take you through a basic training course covering the tools and techniques of glass-blowing. At the end of your course you should be capable of making a piece of your very own – with a little help from your teacher.
La Verrerie de Biot, Chemin des Combes, 06410 Biot
Phone : +(33) (0)4 93 65 03 00
Fax : +(33) (0)4 93 65 00 56
9:30am to 8pm non-stop
Sunday & Public Holidays
10:30am to 1:30pm and 2:30 to 7:30pm
9:30am to 6pm non-stop
Sunday & Public Holidays
10:30am to 1:30pm and 2:30am to 6pm
25th December & 1st January
15 to the 27 January inclusive
La Verrerie de Biot offers 10 minutes free parking and then charge from €2 euros upwards depending on how long you want to stay. This cost is refunded if you buy glass from the Verrerie de Biot. While it is possible to see glass blowing in under 10 minutes you will not have time to go into the art exhibition or even browse the showrooms which are really interesting and very worthwhile visiting.
Leave the motorway at the Antibes exit (#44). Take the direction “Les Trois Moulins” or Biot. Take the direction Biot. Follow the fuchsia pink signposts to La Verrerie de Biot
From Nice Cote d’Azur Airport, Nice or Cannes
- Bus RCA: TAM lines “200 Cannes-Nice” stops to Biot Train Station
- Access to Regional Train (TER) and National trains:
Stop at Biot Train Station
- Access to Biot Train Station at 4 km from the village: take a direct bus to go to the village:
- Envibus lines #10 and #22. Note: The #10 Bus runs only once an hour on Sunday.