Places of interest25 May 2018

Biot: Glassblower arts center worth seeing [Video & photo gallery]

Each year La Verrerie de Biot receives close to 700 000 visitors. Alone, with their families or in a group, they all want one thing: to discover the unique know-how and tradition of La Verrerie de Biot.

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A renowned tourist site with 50 years of history

Biot, a medieval jewel perched against a backdrop of verdant countryside, is ideally located between Nice and Cannes. It has managed to protect a quality of life and an identity linked to its history and art craft. The arrival of artists such as Fernand Léger, whose museum stands at the foot of the village, and the installation of La Verrerie de Biot, have brought in new creative energy that can be felt in the numerous art and craft workshops in Biot.
The extension of the Sophia Antipolis technology park is today giving a new face to a town that is determinedly turned towards the future. Located in Biot, just a few kilometres from Antibes, La Verrerie de Biot is a true tourist site and groups several key points of interest:

the glassblowers’ studio
Biot Glass Ecomuseum
the great showroom
The Galerie Internationale du Verre
- a decoration shop
- a restaurant.

A trade of enthusiasts: the glassblowers

Glass does not exist without its master glassblower. Each creation requires special attention, concentration. The master-glassblower is a magician who uses the secrets of earth and fire to create glass! 
He is also a craftsman and a great artist: the originality of an approach, an innate sense of volumes and surfaces, and constant creativity.
The “gamins” or apprentice glassblowers are between 16 and 18 years of age when they are hired at La Verrerie de Biot. They then undergo training passing through 7 successive stages or grades becoming master glassblowers at the end of 8 to 10 years. The organisation of the work takes into account the apprenticeship with the ultimate aim that each “gamin” should become a master glassblower. If the latter has the ability and desire to create, to express his artistic talent through glass, everything is done to help him till he is ready to fend for himself. 

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Not to be missed:
The glassblowers’ studio (Free admission) 
15 master glassblowers draw the living substance from the fire, blow, create and model unique objects before visitors´ eyes
Since the hall was opened in 1956, the general public has been able to visit it, encouraged to understand the mysteries of glass manufacture in Biot and admire the craftsmen’s know-how. 
"The master glassblowers in La Verrerie de Biot are proud to demonstrate their know-how and pass it on to the “gamins” apprentices,” explains Anne Lechaczynski.

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The Ecomuseum

The Biot Glass Ecomuseum, a member of the Fédération des Ecomusées et des Musées de société [Federation of Ecomuseums and Society Museums].
The glass ecomuseum aims to highlight and make known the glass tradition by: 
> Preserving a know-how: the technique of blown and bubbled glass
> Conserving ancient pieces, tools and artistic glassware
> Making a very wide public aware of the bubbled glass-blowing technique 
through demonstrations inside a glassblowers’ studio, showing all manufacturing stages in the creation of a glass piece from the gathering of the molten glass by the “gamin” apprentice through to finishing by the master glassblower.
In this way the ecomuseum preserves the authenticity of a know-how and shows the importance of the glassblowing tradition in Provence. 

Various distractions are proposed to visitors to the Biot Glass Museum to enable them to discover the technique of bubbled glass-blowing in an active way. 
> Demonstrations in a real workshop: the glassblowers’ studio 
> Visits at your own rhythm or guided tours 
> Introductory courses in glass-blowing 

Raw materials, tools, old kiln, techniques, the secret of the bubbles: an exciting visit bringing the present and the past together for ever. 
Guided tours from Monday to Friday 
Independent visits with French or English walkman recordings. 

For full information on independent or group visits, times, prices and guided tours

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International Gallery of Glass

The first exhibition took place in the summer of 1977... More than 30 years devoted to the love of Art, of eclectic artistic expression through glass, the pre-eminence of the artist, of humanity and the virtuoso craftsman over any theory of art.

This undying love has been expressed through permanent exhibitions, special events and, of course, the Verriales. The Verriales: this is an event in its own right which was first put on in 1989. It is quite unmissable - even for aesthetes who think they have seen everything.

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Every year, on the first Friday in July, the event brings together more than 30 artists all working on a single theme which changes every time. This offers an opportunity to check out exclusive designs and works produced especially for this event where excellence combines with quality, diversity and creativity. The Verriales is neither a collective exhibition nor a juxtaposition of one-man shows. It is actually a series of monographs offering talented young artists the chance to rub shoulders with big names and where healthy emulation between artists encourages them to outdo themselves to offer watchful collectors “the piece”. The Galerie also takes an educational approach so that once visitors have been made aware of the techniques used to produce the works, they feel that the essential matter of art lies elsewhere, in the idea, the concept, the artist him or herself, because Ernst Gombrich was so right when he said: "there is no such thing as art, there are only artists."

Serge Lechaczynski

We remind you, that in Altare (province Savona), there is also a very interesting glasblower center.


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