The Promenade du Paillon is a green corridor located in Nice and designed by the landscaper Michel Péna. It connects the Promenade des Anglais to the National Theater along one side of the Avenue des Phocéens followed by Boulevard Jean-Jaurès and on the other side the Avenue of Verdun followed by Avenue Félix-Faure on a length of 1.2 km. It’s located next to the outdoor theater and garden Albert- I and follows the river covered Spangle.
Trees, shrubs, plants from all continents met on this walk. The Péna Paysages agency is the prime contractor for this project. Thanks to the magic of a Mediterranean climate, whose characteristics are found in many biotopes around the world, the Promenade invites to a botanical journey without jet lag, with promises of trees in bloom each season.
Work on the Promenade du Paillon began in 2010 with the demolition of the Nice bus station and its hanging gardens. The total amount of these amounts to forty million euros. The green flow is inaugurated on October 26, 2013by Christian Estrosi and Éric Ciotti.
The places immediately become popular with the people of Nice and tourists, in particular children’s games. In one week, three children were injured on a wooden attraction, which forced the municipality to review the safety measures with the builder of the game. Quickly, we announced a 20% increase in real estate around promenade.
The Promenade du Paillon covers an area of 12 ha. It is a green flow composed of 1,600 trees, 6,000 shrubs and 50,000 perennials. It also includes a 3,000 m 2 water mirror, equipped with 128 jets and a 1,400 m 2 plateau of mist. Several scenarios are offered to spectators. Park regulations prohibit sitting on lawns.
The green and blue carpet
The green carpet meets the expectations of multiple and different uses: the intensive use of the esplanade, exhibitions of works of art, fun activities for children and young people, the tranquility of the walker and the dreamer… How to reconcile all this in a coherent space?
Thus, resonating with the underground infrastructure, but without necessarily conforming to it systematically, the carpet is made up of four ribbons of 6.6m corresponding to the supports, this geometry allowing to have specific loads without distorting the overall composition.
A large mirror of water and a large misting space take place on either side of Place Masséna, with an area of approximately 3,000 m² in the Masséna area and 1,500 m² in the Albert I garden, respectively. Sequences with 128 water jets and misters follow one another on a natural stone bed on the water mirror, with lighting at night.
Thus, the city is redesigned. New landscapes appear, such as the bell towers and the facades of old Nice penetrating the very heart of the promenade.
The magic of the walk
Dreams, escape and entertainment accompany walkers.
Giant water mirror
On the edge of Place Masséna, on the site of the former Jacques Médecin forum, a vast mirror of water offers its reflections and sparkles: a lake of 3,000 m2 equipped with 128 water jets.
“Sound and light” shows can be organized there, thanks to a general interconnection and a computer system allowing multiple scenographies. A complex and invisible machinery, with 6 kilometers of underground pipes, allows the organization of aquatic shows. On the edge of avenue Félix Faure, 300 m3 of concrete was poured to house, in the basement, a technical room with its water reserve and the controls of the hydraulic and electric systems.
The “mist plateau”
The aquatic change of scenery extends to the other side of Place Masséna, in the Albert 1er garden. Welcome to the “fog plateau”, its natural basalt and limestone paving and its “fog”. On a surface of 1.400m² with 960 atomizers, 60 boxes, each provided with 16 nozzles, allow the spraying of very fine droplets, giving birth to a giant “cloud” in which one can freely wander.
If the Promenade du Paillon is cosmopolitan with plants from all continents, it also pays homage to the flower which remains one of the emblems of the city. Near the Masséna high school (old town side), a rectangle of more than 2,000 carnation plants recalls the time when this flower was exported to the four corners of the globe.
Nice was the world capital of the flower and more particularly the carnation. The best horticulturalists in the world worked in the greenhouses that covered the hills of Nice. The town then produces more stems than all of Holland!
This golden age reached its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, before decreasing in the early 1970s due to several factors: the appearance of a pest fungus, real estate pressure and ever-increasing competition from Netherlands.
Today, only a few horticulturalists still preserve this tradition of growing carnations. Among these farms testifying to a splendid era, there is now the Promenade du Paillon. The Nice carnation will continue to bloom on its ancestral land.
The Mediterranean is also widely present in this garden with holm oaks, majestic umbrella pines or Provence cypresses. The central green ribbon that runs all along the Promenade is planted with olive trees, vines, carob trees, pomegranate trees, fig trees and other plants from southern Europe.
At the site of the old bus station, Asia is reaching out to us with its camphor trees and giant bamboos. Already of good size, up to 10 meters high. Along the way, a collection of citrus fruits to discover, just to remind you that long before thriving on the Côte d’Azur from the 17th century, lemons and oranges were born in China and India.
A little further, African vegetation spreads in place of the old Paillon car park. Let us contemplate this thicket of Phoenix reclinata, an astonishing palm formed by several trunks, or these Erythrina, a tree with large leaves with sumptuous red-orange flowers in spring. A symphony to which the scarlet of Aloe flowers responds, like an echo, in winter.
Oceania and Australia
On the Leclerc square, landing in Oceania and Australia. Walk in a eucalyptus forest with remarkable specimens, whose barks stand out in multicolored strips, red, pink, brown, green… In summer, the red flower clusters of Brachychitons will compete with the “wheels of fire “of Stenocarpus sinuatus, trees with flaming inflorescences. In the same sector, dozens of tree ferns up to 2 meters high create a tropical atmosphere, under the protection of the existing giant ficus tree, an old resident of the square, a few meters from the statue of General Masséna.
On the old Jacques Médecin forum, it is South America which takes root, with the yellow flowers (in summer) of the Tipuana tipu or those, pink, of the Chorisia speciosa, bottle tree which protects itself from herbivores with its covered trunk a shell of thorns. Among other curiosities, Jubea spectabilis or coconut palms of Chile producing mini coconuts (edible). Mini fruits for a trunk that can reach up to 2 meters in diameter.
The journey continues in the Albert 1er garden, with North America. Between the arch of Bernar Venet and the fountain of the 3 Graces, dozens of magnolias with clusters of immaculate flowers are arranged in a colonnade. The excursion ends a little further with the autumnal blaze of oaks, American walnut trees and maple trees. Shades of yellow to red and brown… for an Indian summer in Nice.
Art is present in the form of:
A bronze reproduction of David by Michelangelo melted by the Tessaroli foundry in Pietrasanta (Italy);
A monument dedicated to the general of Nice, Masséna, by Carrier-Belleuse.
An original bronze by Cyril de La Patellière, “Nikaïa”, inaugurated on June 13, 2019 by Christian Estrosi.
Marine bestiary for children
A life-size whale, dolphins, octopuses, a huge turtle… These marine animals have taken up residence in the heart of the new park, opposite the Lycée Masséna. Would they have managed to go up the course of the Paillon since its mouth? In truth, we helped them a little in their migration.
These sculptures were born in a Cévennes workshop specializing in the manufacture of play areas in natural materials. Made of solid wood resistant and soft to the touch, these giant toys are in harmony with the surrounding plant decor. These different play areas welcome children up to 12 years old.
For children under 3: the turtle, 3 meters long and 2.4 meters wide, with its eggs on which toddlers can walk and, at the back, a slide and a wave 3 meters long. office chair.
From 3 to 6 years old: two dolphins 6.5 meters long, with slides, nets; a manta ray almost 3 meters long with spring games; a 1.5 meter long grouper that children set in motion by walking on it.
From 6 to 12 years old: the whale, 30 meters long, is the star of this fun space. Equipped with multiple games, ropes, tackles, bars, nets, rings, its belly can accommodate many little “Jonas” in search of adventures.
The Music Kiosk
Built in 1868 in the Albert I Garden, the Bandstand has been completely restored and will continue to house the Municipal Orchestra.