Numerous vestiges around the village show that the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, followed by a long period where Celto-Ligurians (the Oxybians and Deceates tribes) controlled the region. These tribes were in conflict with the town of Antipolis (Antibes), rooted in Greek culture, who asked Rome for help.
The Ligurians were defeated in 154 BC by the Romans who then settled little by little the current site of the old village. They occupied the site for five centuries, leaving behind monuments and inscriptions that are still visible today.
The middle ages
The period between the end of Roman domination and the beginning of the Middle Ages is not well known.
In 1209, the Count of Provence, who held the rights to the territory of Biot, donated the area to the Knights Templar “for the salvation of his soul and that of his parents”. At the time, the village included the Place aux Arcades, the church and a few houses. The Knights Templar purchased or were donated the lands surrounding the village, thus unifying the territory of Biot. When the Templars were dissolved, the territory of Biot was jointly entrusted to the Knights Hospitaller (who became the Knights of Malta in 1530) and the bishop of Grasse. The authority over the town remained as such until the Revolution.
The end of a peaceful era and repopulation
The villagers lived in peace and life went on until Joanna I Queen of Naples took the throne. Looters and the black plague decimated the village. Biot and its church were abandoned and destroyed in 1387 and the village became a refuge for bandits. This ended in 1470, when King René of Naples persuaded around fifty families from the Oneglia Valley (in modern day Italy between Genoa and Ventimiglia) to come and settle in favourable conditions. Life resumed and Biot prospered.
Life from the 16th to 19th centuries and the extraordinary rise of pottery
The walls of the village were extended during the 16th and 17th centuries as farming and pottery enriched the villagers. In 1707 and 1746, two invasions partially demolished the village and the crops were destroyed. Beginning in the 16th century, the earthenware vase industry developed and transformed Biot into an important centre for pottery production. However, in the 19th century, the pottery industry began to decline, alongside related activities like kiln stone extraction and cutting.
The 20th century and today
In the early 20th century, the downturn of the pottery industry continued. Biot refocused on agriculture, mainly wine and horticulture, which declined around 1960, just as a new economic activity was born.
The Sophia Antipolis technology park, the first in Europe, opened in 1970, mostly within the town limits of Biot. Research centres for the INRA (National Institute of Agricultural Research), the INRIA (National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation), the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) and Nice Sophia Antipolis University opened in Biot alongside high-tech companies. The face of Biot completely changed and suburbs began to develop.
At the same time, arts and crafts flourished. Fernand Léger, Raymond Peynet and many others set up in Biot and forged its reputation. In 1956, Eloi Monod created the Verrerie de Biot glassworks and its signature bubble glass technique. Biot became an city of arts and crafts.