Two comprehensive sources guided us in our toponymy research: Monographie de Biot by J.A. Durbec, republished in 2007 and available at the History and Ceramic Museum of Biot, and the writings of Marius Auzias.
During the repopulation of Biot in 1470, the streets around the church bore the names of the families who re-settled the village: Rue des Béris (Bel or Beaux), Rue des Sévoulles and Rue des Ardissons. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the names were inspired by Biot’s topography: Place du Château, Rue du Mittan (middle of the village) and Rue Souto-Barri (under the 1st rampart).
In the 18th century, the trades set up in the streets gave them their name: Rue des Orfèvres (goldsmiths), Rue de la Poissonnerie (fishmongers), Rue de la Vieille Boucherie (butchers).
Another detail mentioned by M. Durbec: all the streets (Calade des Tines, the church square from 1685) were paved with multi-coloured pebbles taken from the regular cleanings of the Brague River.
Below are the meanings of different names in Biot:
Les Aspres: large volcanic outcrop between Biot and Villeneuve-Loubet, “âpres rochers” (harsh rocks)
Airette (Rue de l’Airette): from the Provençal word “eireto” meaning “small area”
Barri and Sous-Barri: in Provençal, “barri” means “rampart”. So, there’s the rampart street and the street under the rampart. This doesn’t refer to the 16th century fortifications that can be seen today, but to the first village wall that dates to 1506, the year the church was rebuilt. The wall would have surrounded the church and a few houses rebuilt around it after the repopulation in 1470.
Calade: from the Provençal word “calado” which has two meanings. The first is “to go down”, as in “Calade des Migraniers” or as in: “Eh Manu! Tu cales!” (Hey Manu! Get down here!). The second meaning is a “paved road with pebbles wedged into sand”.
Migranier: in Provençal, it means “pomegranate tree”.
Place de la Catastrophe: it doesn’t refer to a natural catastrophe, as one might think, but to the empty lot that was left after an accident that occurred in 1898. On 12 June, several houses collapsed during a fellowship meal with 40 people. At the time, the buildings were sometimes five storeys high. 23 people died that day.
Jas: a Provençal word meaning “sheepfold”.
Portugon: from the Provençal word “porto” meaning “door”. Most likely referring to the site of the 3rd rampart gate that no longer exists today.
Vignasses: large expanse of grapevines
Tines: Calade des Tines and Porte des Tines. In Provençal, “tine” means tub or vat. Perhaps small vases or vats were used to evacuate wastewater over the ramparts or in the street of Calade des Tines.
Soulières: in Provençal, “suviera” means “cork oak”, a very common tree in the Soulières Forest.