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Valbonne - French Village Of Contradictions
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© Christine Till
The commune of Valbonne in southern France consists of two sites: the old village, situated in the extreme north-west, and the high-tech park Sophia Antipolis in the east. The area outside the village includes luxury villas, housing estates, and homes of the old-time generations of Valbonnais. At the bottom of the village, across the street below the rectangle of the center, is the 12th-century Eglise Saint Blaise, the attached Chalaisien Abbey (or 'Ancien Couvent Chalaisien'), the Moulin des Moines (now a restaurant), and a very ancient-looking carved-stone monument.
While the village has been preserved in its original condition, the nearby high tech center of Sophia Antipolis is France's answer to California's Silicon Valley. The name Sophia Antipolis was adopted from the ancient Greek colony of Antipolis which resided in the nearby village of Antibes. Constructed in the 1970s along the same lines as La Défense near Paris, Sophia Antipolis is a highly recognized international community, with more than 1,000 companies hiring more than 25,000 employees. It now has an area of 2,500 ha spreading over the municipality of Valbonne and its surrounding municipalities, Antibes, Biot, Mougins, and Vallauris, and the community continues to grow day by day.
However, although the population of the town of Valbonne has greatly increased, and the proximity of the coast and especially the construction in the 1970s of the technology park Sophia Antipolis has transformed the region, the village of Valbonne itself has remained intact, retaining much of its 16th century charm.
December 8th, 2012
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