The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

Posted by on in Provence-Côte d'Azur

Nice new promenade in Nice

Nice has a new Promenade, nearly 160 years after the Promenade des Anglais on the seafront opened and became the place to be, there is now a lovely new park in which to stroll, play, relax and watch the world go by.  The Promenade du Paillon opened recently after two years of massive works that saw the destruction of the old bus terminal and ugly concrete carpark.  In their place there are now 12 hectares of green space, linking the National Theatre in the north with the Verdure Theatre on the seafront in a 1.2 km grass and water corridor.

Promenade du Paillon Nice fountains

The Promenade du Paillon is named after the river Paillon that used to flow underneath the new park. Judging from the historical displays along the paths (see photo below of the shadow of a couple looking at a black and white image) it was a considerable river with bridges and quays like most other large cities in France.  Why it was covered over I don't know and could be the subject for another post, but for now I can say resoundingly that this park full of water features and play areas for children is 100% better than the old concrete monstrosities that used to divide the old and new towns.

Promenade de Paillon history

The park makes the most of its beautiful setting, using water "mirrors" to reflect the hills and colourful architecture.  These mirrors contain 128 super hi-tech jets which squirt water up to 5 metres into the air, playing tricks on the crowd to the squeals of delighted children.  Another feature is the use of sprays gently recalling the early morning mist in the river valleys surrounding Nice.  I can imagine just how wonderful these are going to feel on hot summer days.

Promenade du Paillon mirroir deau Nice

Elsewhere in the park is an original and very popular childrens' play area.  Giant squids, turtles, dolphins and an enormous whale house swings and climbing frames made out of beautifully crafted wood.  This is a very welcome addition to central Nice as until now there was no playpark for kids in the vicinity.  

promenade du Paillon Nice play area for kids

Each different area of the "coulée verte" (green corridor, its alternative name) is connected by wide open lawns which look lovely, particularly at the moment as the grass is in its tender bright green first stage, but herein lies my only criticsm - you are not allowed to sit on the grass!  You can walk on it, which is already a step in the right direction (pun fully intended) compared to many parks in France, but to not be able to sit on it seems ludicrous. I'm hoping this is only a temporary* thing while the grass is young and delicate and within a few months we'll be able to lounge around like folk do in other great cities with green spaces. Imagine London or New York with no one on the grass! Absurd!


The length of the Promenade is planted with thousands of plants and trees from all over the world, with an emphasis on Mediterranean species.  I've heard that there's a "forest of jacarandas" somewhere - my favourite tree!  I didn't spot it this time but I can't wait till spring to see its haze of purple flowers. Jacarandas always remind me of Sydney; a place that holds a very sizeable piece of my heart.  

Paillon JduneN

While on the subject of plants, I discovered something new about Nice researching this piece.  It used to be the world's biggest grower of carnations in its heyday during the 1950s and 60s.  The oeuillet de Nice was grown in glasshouses on the hills surrounding the town and is still the city's emblem, but pressure to build on the land coupled with ever increasing competition from Holland eventually saw the decline of carnation production in the 1970s.  To honour this tradtion and keep a little bit of history alive there is a section of planting given over entirely to the oeuillet de Nice. Packed in altogether, in such a pretty setting, the flowers look much better than the dreary carnations in supermarket bouquets!

Paillon oeillet

I've always loved the central square in Nice, Place Massena, with its rich red buildings, black and white checked paving and funky crouching-men statues by Jaume Plensa. And now it's even better as the two sides of the park seamlessly cross the vast expanse in a haze of mist periodically dissected by the sleak modern lines of the tram.  I look forward to seeing how the Christmas market and Carnival celebrations fit in in this new arrangement.


Finally, Nice's Mayor has big ambitions to make his town a leader in green/ecological cities.  There are plans for an "Eco-Valley" along the Var river and it was one of the earliest places to install a bike share system.  This park is part of the plan, creating a centre of town for living in, for pleasure and leisure but not for cars.  Hence the demolition of the bus station and car park.  As far as I'm concerned it's a great success.  The park's creator envisaged a sophisticated but simple urban space.  I think that sums it up perfectly.  I hope you enjoy the photos I took a couple of days ago.

water mirror Promenade du Paillon Nice France

Nice Prom du Paillon



Jardin Albert 1er Promenade Paillon Nice

Nice mirroir deau avec enfant

Nice Promenade du Paillon kid playing

Nice Prom du Paillon sunset

fountain area Promenade du Paillon Nice

coulée verte fontaines


*UPDATE 2015: not being allowed to sit on the grass was a temporary measure and lounging, sitting, picnicking etc is most definitely allowed!  What do you think of this new urban space?  Have you been there, or anywhere like it?


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Promenade du Paillon Nice Côte dAzur


Photos of carnations and looking across to the whale play area courtesy of Journal d'une Niçoise


Ersatz Expat
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  • Guest
    Nicole Thursday, 14 January 2016

    Looks absolutely stunning and you take gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing. Lovely to stop by. :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 19 January 2016

    Thank you Nicole, happy to have you here.

  • Guest
    Steph Sunday, 06 December 2015

    Looks like a great place to spend a day!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Tuesday, 06 January 2015

    Yes it is, we're lucky to have it nearby.

  • Guest
    chickenruby Thursday, 03 December 2015

    how wonderful that the countryside is coming back into the town. I love the open space, it must be great to have so much freedom to wander around, i hate water fountains like that, I've been caught and drenched on more than one occasion lol

  • Guest
    Phoebe Sunday, 06 December 2015

    Ha ha! I love watching people get caught out by the fountains!!!

  • Guest
    Ersatz Expat Thursday, 03 December 2015

    What a wonderfully innovative urban space, thanks for linking it to TravelAtHome. I did not know about the carnations, how sad that the trade died out. Did you ever find the Jacarandas?

  • Guest
    Phoebe Sunday, 06 December 2015

    No I never did find the jacarandas, I must try this spring! Thanks for reminding me.

  • Guest
    Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life) Thursday, 03 December 2015

    I love when cities make beautiful urban spaces like this. They way they can blend them in seamlessly is amazing. We have a few in Amsterdam (though typically smaller) it's a great place that kids seem to love. And I'm so glad that the "no sitting on grass" was only temporary! That's a great part of summer is to picnic on a lovely green grassy area :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Thursday, 03 December 2015

    I agree, it's so wonderful when a city invests in the quality of life of its inhabitants. Nice is really a better place for this park.

  • Guest
    Kate Wednesday, 22 July 2015

    We saw the new area in July and were amazed by it!
    Great to cool off on a hot day in the mist and fountains - very
    creative planning.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Monday, 03 August 2015

    Yes it's become the place to go for kids visiting Nice on hot days! The fountains are a great hit.

  • Guest
    Darcy Saturday, 30 May 2015

    fabulous space - great for young and old- so photogenic too - here is just one photo from my recent trip:

  • Baggins
    Baggins Saturday, 17 January 2015

    Love your blog. Great pictures. Can't wait to get over there next month to see the park after peeking through the fencing the past couple of years.

    Bagginsandthe Bear

  • Guest
    Courtney Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Looks like a lovely spot!

  • Guest
    Sammy Dorn Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    This looks like a great place. Water parks/features like this are always a win with kids. We have a similar type of place in my home town in Australia.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Where's your home town Sammy? My family are from Sydney.

  • Guest
    Corinne Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    Phoebe, I love children playing in fountains...beautiful shots!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Thanks Corinne! :)

  • Guest
    Tina @ Girl Meets Globe Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    Beautiful place! My kids would love this!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Bring them for a holiday to the Riviera Tina, staying at Lou Messugo of course! ;)

  • Guest
    Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    I was very briefly in Nice (eeek) 23 years ago but after travelling all day and night to get there I just shot to the beach. I think I need to come back and have a better look at Nice itself!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    You certainly do Rosie, and you need to stay at Lou Messugo on this southern trip!!

  • Guest
    Van @ On the Road again Tuesday, 13 May 2014

    What a beautiful place! I love water fountains and I bet it's a lovely place for families. Never been to Nice though I'll put this promenade on my itinerary should I ever visit Nice ;)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Thanks for stopping by Van, it's a great place for all ages, but yes, it's definitely a good addition to central Nice for young families.

  • Guest
    Lou's Lake Views Sunday, 10 November 2013

    What an amazing space they have created there. Your photos of it are absolutely stunning!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    It sure is a beautiful space which makes it all the easier to take good photos, and the light was lovely so little skill on my behalf was needed. Thanks for commenting Lou.

  • Guest
    Mags Sunday, 10 November 2013

    Woah! I love the water features and reflections, so beautiful. Gorgeous photos!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    The reflections were fab, I took loads more photos, it was hard editing them down!

  • Guest
    Lisa Mallis Sunday, 10 November 2013

    Oh! I so want to visit! Thanks for the beautiful pictures!!!!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    I'm happy my pictures make you want to visit Lisa. :)

  • Guest
    Delia @ Blog Formatting Sunday, 10 November 2013

    Oh my this looks just wonderful! Thanks for sharing this great place with us!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    Pleasure Delia, I hope one day you can see it for real.

  • Cheryl
    Cheryl Saturday, 09 November 2013

    It's a fabulous space. I love your photos :D

  • Guest
    Phoebe Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    Thanks Cheryl, isn't it a great addition to lovely Nice!

  • Guest
    Clara Saturday, 09 November 2013

    I LOVE France and a good friend of mine lives in Nice! I want to go there as soon as I can and have a wonderful walk along the promenade!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Saturday, 09 November 2013

    Great Clara, you must visit your friend, walk the Promenade and get in touch!! :)

  • Guest
    Lorraine Friday, 08 November 2013

    It looks fabulous! My kids would love that giant octopus. :) the carnations are a wonderful addition, I love it when communities use plants as part of honouring their heritage.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Saturday, 09 November 2013

    Thanks for commenting Lorraine; I really liked all that the carnations represented as well.

  • Guest
    Catherine Friday, 08 November 2013

    Looks great. Wonderful way to cool off on a hot day. Must go and see it when we come to lou messugo again.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 08 November 2013

    Yes you must Catherine, you'd love all the Aussie plants and Jacarandas when they flower.

  • Guest
    Rachel S. Thursday, 07 November 2013

    Oooooh - this looks wonderful. Another reason to return. Bravo!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Thursday, 07 November 2013

    Thanks Rachel, I'm sure all 4 of your gang would love it!! :o

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