For three days in early April Biot et les Templiers Biot and the Templars – is the biggest event on the Côte d’Azur. It’s the place to be as the lovely village of Biot travels back to the 13th century, transforming itself into medieval city from the time of the Templars.

Biot and the Templars

The setting couldn’t be more delightful for this journey back in time to the Middle Ages.  The old centre of Biot, (pronounced Bi-otte not Bi-oh as you may think if you know anything about French pronunciation), is a picturesque fortified medieval hill village perched just a couple of kilometres inland from the Mediterranean commanding sweeping views out to sea one way and over to the mountains the other, creating the perfect backdrop for this historical event.

knights at the festival Biot and the Templars

Biot has a rich and turbulent past, with historical remains dating from as early as Roman times. Evidence of olive oil production has been found from the 3rd century though the village really started to flourish in the middle ages.

carpenter at Biot and the Templars

Biot and the Templars

From the 12th to the beginning of the 14th century the Knights Templar bought up the best land in the area and founded one of the most important religious establishments in the region, located in the old castle, still visible today as the building which separates the Place de l’Eglise and the Place aux Arcades.

game at Biot and the Templars

It is this period that the annual festival Biot and the Templars celebrates. However, just to continue a little with the history of Biot, the Knights Templar’s dominance didn’t last and they were imprisoned and their wealth redistributed on Papal orders in 1307. By the middle of the 14th century the area was ravaged by the Plague, like most of Provence, and succumbed to bandit warfare.

people dressed as lepers at Biot and the Templars

The 15th to 18th centuries were dominated by wars with the village ransacked and pillaged several times. However thanks to rich clay soil, despite its ongoing struggles, Biot became a centre for pottery production between the 16th century and 18th centuries.

potter at Biot and the Templars

By the middle of the 20th century, it once again became famous for its decorative pottery and glasswork, creating a particular bubble glass for which it is now well-known worldwide.

Biot and the Templars at night

What to Expect at Biot and the Templars

So getting back to its yearly medieval fête, Biot and the Templars kicks off on the Friday night with a Son et Lumière show, using the village as a backdrop for spectacular fireworks and concert.

fireworks over the village of Biot

The rest of the weekend is taken up with reenactments of medieval combats, jousting tournaments, fencing and archery set in authentically-styled camps. There are falconry displays, catapult demonstrations, horse shows and artisans showing off their crafts.

camp at Biot and the Templars

Visitors can join in medieval dances and partake of medieval fare. If you’re not careful you could even end up in the stocks! On the Saturday night there is a Grand Bal Médiéval led by an ensemble of Troubadours.

stocks and tents at medieval festival

Participants come from all over Europe to take part in this popular festival. Many of them sleep out in the camps overnight. Authenticity is everything! Local tailors (all volunteers) create hundreds of flags and banners to decorate the village, and tunics for 150 primary school children and 30 town hall employees. They’re all sewn out of French linen, assuring there are no synthetic mass-produced costumes for the local townspeople, les Biotois.

knights jousting at medieval reenactment

A giant market, along the Route de la Mer, sells local and “medieval” produce, such as leather goods, cosmetics, wooden toys, jewellery, food and plenty of swords, shields and helmets!

market stall selling hand-made jewellery

You’ll find minstrels playing medieval music and dancers entertaining in the streets as well as farcical theatre and concerts. Watch out for the band of people affected by leprosy who mingle through the crowds (their costumes and make-up are amazing!)

musicians dressed up and playing medieval instruments in Biot Templiers fête

There are conferences and workshops both for adults and children and it’s all free. Kids can play with traditional wooden games and learn fencing or calligraphy (among other things).

child doing calligraphy

In the evenings there is a parade by torchlight with mulled wine and bread cooked in the communal wood oven. Many people dress up, not just the entertainers but the spectators too, and the Tourist Office rents out costumes for a reasonable rate.

stall holder at the medieval festival in Biot

Food is available at all the restaurants and cafés in the village with most places putting on some kind of special menu for the event. There are plenty of pop-up snack bars and speciality stalls in the market. For the most authentic cuisine several taverns offer period dishes: this means no pasta, rice, tomatoes nor potatoes (let alone chocolate and coffee) as these ingredients did not exist in France in the Middle Ages.

man with dough making buns for Biot and the Templars

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something different to do, Biot and the Templars is a fun weekend, packed with activities and shows for the whole family in a beautiful location, that doesn’t cost a penny.

woman dressed in medieval costume by a fire cooking in a pot

Biot is 20 minutes from us at Lou Messugo and is worthy of a visit even when the Biot and the Templars festival isn’t on. For more local sightseeing ideas check out these 13 best hill villages to visit on the Côte d’Azur.

Biot village walls and market stalls

For information on the exact dates, programme, road closures and parking check the Biot website. It is a very popular event. This year, in 2023, it was estimated 100,000 people visited over the 3 days. My advice as with any of these events is to go early, it’s always more crowded in the afternoon.

market stand selling helmets and swords for medieval festival

I originally wrote this post in 2014 and have thoroughly updated and revised it after 9 years. Back in 2014 when I wrote the first edition I had no idea that the Biot and the Templars festival would take a 9 year break. No one did! Let’s hope this is the restart of a new annual tradition. If the success of this year’s event is anything to go by, there should be no doubt it’ll be back in 2024.

Biot lit up with lights that look like it's on fire

Have you ever been to a similar event?  Do you enjoy this sort of occasion?  I’d love to hear from you.

Related Reading:

La Colle Sur Loup Goes Back in Time

Mid Summer Solstice And Fire!

Rose Festival on The French Riviera – ExpoRose in Grasse

Please PIN this for later!


Enjoyed this post? Please share it