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Visiting the Var Valley, France, Overlooked by the Amazing Village of Bonson

Updated on August 2, 2018
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
The perched village of Bonson (Alpes-Maritimes, France), seen from the Var valley.
The perched village of Bonson (Alpes-Maritimes, France), seen from the Var valley. | Source

An aura of precarious isolation

'Amazing' may be an over-worked word at times, but not when it comes to this locality in the Var Valley in southern France.

Perched upon a huge outcrop of rock 300 metres above the Var Valley is the village of Bonson (the French even have a term for the phenomenon: un village perché), situated in the Vence canton of the Alpes-Maritimes department (1).

If Bonson impresses with an overwhelming aura of isolation and inaccessibility, then in the Middle Ages, this would have described Bonson to a far greater extent.

The lack of a bridge over the Var increased the sense of remoteness of the village; in 1677 such a bridge was built but it had not survived by the beginning of the 18th century. Only in the 19th century was a permanent bridge erected.

In 1877 an earthquake proved to be very damaging to local property.

The village itself is situated atop an outcrop of Mont Vial, 300 metres above the confluence of the Var and Estéron rivers.

In the village, a number of examples of ancient ecclesiastical architecture may be found; these are the parish church of Saint-Benoît, dating from the 16th century with a number of noteworthy works of art; the Chapelle Saint-Hospice and the Chapelle du Passet.

The local railroad station linking with Nice and belonging to the — Chemins de fer de Provence company — dates from 1892 (2).

August 2, 2018


(1) The village now counts as part of the Nice metropolitan area, a contrast to the centuries of remoteness which has characterized the locality.

(2) The Chemins de fer de Provence line also links with Digne-lès-Bains.

Gabre suburb in Bonson commune (Alpes-Maritimes, France)
Gabre suburb in Bonson commune (Alpes-Maritimes, France) | Source

Also worth seeing

In Nice itself (distance: 22.5 kilometres), among the many visitor attractions are the well-known Promenade anglaise on NIce Bay (French: Baie de Nice); the old city (French: Vieux-Nice) has many fine buildings, including Sainte-Réparate Cathedral; the 11th - 18th century château de Nice, overlooks the city, recalling the ancient County of Nice (French: Comté de Nice); and many others.


How to get there: Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur), where car rental is available. There are regular rail links between Nice CP railroad station and Plan-du-Var station. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. For border crossing arrangements which may apply to travellers of certain nationalities, please consult the appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Alpes-Maritimes department, France
Map location of Alpes-Maritimes department, France | Source


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    • MJFenn profile imageAUTHOR


      18 months ago

      Liz Westwood: I agree indeed that it is an outstanding area to visit. Thank-you for your comment.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      19 months ago from UK

      This is one of my favourite areas. We once spent a week in Nice. There are so many interesting places to visit from there.


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