Nice’s flagship urban park covers 12 hectares in the heart of the city, just a few minutes walk from Promenade des Anglais. Promenade du Paillon used to be a very congested and rather ugly thoroughfare where the old bus station and multi storey car park were situated. It was demolished in 2011 and a 3 year development project took place to turn it into the oasis of green open space, safe play areas and impressive water features that we enjoy today.
Originally there was a river of the same name that ran through this area; the more serpentine of the paved paths apparently follows where it used to flow. The river separated Old Nice from the more modern part of town but after a series of serious floods it was gradually filled in and built over, being used for markets and trade fairs until the bus station was built in the 1970’s.
The Promenade begins in Place Massena with the Miroir d’Eau (mirror of water), a 3000m² paved section dotted with water jets; sometimes they puff out a gentle cooling mist that is pure relief on a hot day, sometimes they shoot fountains of water high into the air - they can switch at a moment’s notice, so walk amongst them at your own risk! They are a huge hit with children who love running in and out of the jets and shrieking with laughter every time they change.
Further down the Promenade is a children’s play area with fantastical weird wooden creatures that they can climb and swing on. The ground is cushioned and covered with fake grass, while a gated fence prevents them from straying into the road.
The last section of the Promenade is a long stretch of lawn lined with olive trees; this section is the most peaceful and where you’re most likely to find office workers enjoying a packed lunch or elderly locals reading the newspaper.
The Promenade has paved walkways weaving through it and plenty of benches along both sides. With over 1000 trees and 50,000 plants, it has been planned so that there are always some botanical varieties in bloom all year round. There are also a few shaded areas with wooden armchairs near to the public toilets and tourist information desk.
Entry to the Promenade du Paillon is completely free and opening hours are from 07:00-23:00 in summer and 07:00-21:00 in winter.
Cycling is not permitted in the park but a cycle path runs along the outside of it on Avenue Felix Faure and there are Véloblue stations at either end if you want to ride there and park up nearby.