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Valbonne Heritage Museum

The first task of the Friends of the Abbey of Valbonne, founded in 1993, was to sort through the items donated by village people and stored in the Valbonne Cultural Centre for use as the basis for a local heritage museum. The restoration of the lay brothers’ quarters of the former abbey provided space for the museum. The challenge now was to bring the 2,000 exhibits back to life - old furniture, tools, utensils and clothes - by displaying them as attractively as possible in an authentic setting for the enjoyment of visitors and to show the donors’ our interest and respect for their gifts.

The thematic displays represent life as it was lived in past times, and also more recently, in our rural and industrious provencal village. The large room on the second floor is the showpiece of the museum, demonstrating different crafts and skills, Valbonne at work, life at home and pleasure pursuits.

In other rooms there are representations of a carpenter’s workshop at the beginning of the twentieth century, a living area of the same period, and a room used for the storage of desert grapes.

 
 
  The village at work: cultivation of the land with a magnificent swing plough; implements for tending olive trees and making olive oil; implements for tending vines and winemaking, including a mobile grape press; implements of various artisans, including a shoemaker’s workshop and carpenter’s tools as well as sheep rearing, including evidence of the annual movement of sheep to better pasturage: sheep shearing and treatment of wool, and the cultivation and processing of hemp.
Family life: clothes; school; health; religion.
Useful leisure activities: fishing and hunting.
 
     
 

 

 

  In the former pigeon loft there is the Servan Museum portraying different aspects of the cultivation and storage of the famous over-wintered servan grapes. Until quite recently these desert grapes were a local specialty, still celebrated at the annual village fair of Saint Blaise at the end of each January. The tools used to cultivate the vines and pick the grapes and the different methods of storing them are all illustrated, and there is detailed documentation about the areas were the vines were grown.
 
       
 
 
  In a charming room on the first floor a typical Valbonne living area at the beginning of the twentieth century has been installed, comprising: a kitchen with an interesting collection of household implements, a bedroom with a cot and items used to care for a young child, including hygiene and clothes, and a fine representative collection of furniture - not forgetting the lady of the house herself, in her traditional costume.
 
 
 
On the ground floor, in the room that was formally the monks’ kitchen there is a recreation of the Roux family carpenter’s shop, formally located on the Boulevard Carnot, along with all its tools, both manual and mechanical, notably a circular saw, a band saw, a grindstone and a foot operated drill.  
 
  In addition to conserving and displaying items that were formally in daily use, the Friends of the Abbey have also collected more than 700 photos and documents that can be examined at the museum. Catalogued by theme: childhood; family; the village; agriculture; events and celebrations; war; sport; cinema and school photographs. We are proud of this collection from family albums – which is a veritable treasure trove of visual material. Examples are displayed on the walls of the stairwell leading to the different rooms in the museum.  

(c) Abbyvalb - Les Amis de l'Abbaye et du Patrimoine Valbonnais - 2006