Yep, you can “walk on water” in Nice. (Sort of!)
Start with the Promenade des Anglais, one of the most iconic waterside walks in the Mediterranean, then traverse the Coastal path to Villefrache, with elevated views of the Côté d’Azur and the Mediterranean.
Both of those paths have you walking along the water, though.
To get closer to walking on water, check out Nice’s Promenade du Paillon (“Coulée Verte,“ or “the green oasis” to locals). This path bridges Vielle Ville (Oldtown Nice) and its newer areas, following the former path of the River Paillon, which was covered over in the 19th century to mitigate flooding.
Now, you can walk where water once flowed…and explore a favorite spot for Nice residents to cool off in the summertime!
Stretching from Place Albert 1er to the National Theater and the MAMAC (Museum of Modern Art), this family-friendly path and kids play area isn’t exactly a destination in itself. But if you’re in the area, it’s a lovely place to spend a sunny afternoon. Because it connects to the Promenade des Anglais, it also makes for a great starting point for your walks in Nice.
Here is the Promenade’s exact location on Google Maps.
From Eyesore to Eye-Catching
From the mid 70‘s until 2013, the area was used as the main bus terminal for almost all bus lines in and around the city. Accompanying this were some shops, and a huge, very ugly parking garage.
After 2 years of construction work, plus all the traffic disruption and headaches that cames with it, the Coulée Verte was finally opened to the [very relieved] public in October 2013.
Back to ”walking on water”: near the Place Masséna, you’ll spot a large-scale, dancing water feature with a flat, mirror-like surface covered in 2 cm of water.
Here, it’s common to see children [ & adults!] trying to dodge the synchronized jets of water on hot summer days.
When the jets are off, the whole area is covered by a fine mist of water – a quite magical and enticing scene!
The Promenade du Paillon covers 12 hectar [about 30 acres] of land.
As you walk away from Pl. Masséna towards MAMAC, you will pass gardens with a striking diversity of plants: 1600 trees, 6,000 buses, and 50,000 perennials in total, to be exact. The botanical diversity of the gardens has been cleverly planned, so that there are blooming flowers or trees all year-round.
Signs with descriptions of the plants line the Paillon; local schools appreciate this nature trail for educational excursions with the kids. (From the kids’ perspective, the playground and water feature don’t hurt, either!)
Take in the colorful houses of Oldtown to your right, and the famous hotels and buildings on the other side.
Side note: The night buses leave from the this area. Look for JC Bermond Noctambus stop in front of the Aston Hotel [routes N1-4].
At the Paillon, there is also a large playground that kids will go wide-eyed over. Octopus-swings, dinosaur-climbing frames and many more attractions will keep them entertained for hours.
A bonus for parents: this is a safety-oriented playground. All play structures are made of wood, and in front of each, you’ll find a sign identifying the appropriate age group for that structure. The Promenade du Paillon, in general, is a very safe spot in Nice. A special security patrol strolls the grounds day and night, enforcing the rules of the park (which you find at each entrance door). There is also a local police presence ensuring that everyone has a safe and fun time.
If you happen to get lost, you can just go to the Tourist Information, which is also located inside the Promenade du Paillon, close to Place Massena on the right side, if you’re coming from this direction.
When you or the kids get thirsty, there are plenty of water dispensers all along the promenade, with fresh potable water. Of course, you’ll also find nearby bistros for something a little more substantial!
[Thanks to Sandra Lenk, Jessica Vozel and Dawn Shears for contributions to this post]