Nice’s Promenade du Paillon celebrates a decade of transformation and green space expansion

promenade du paillon

The Promenade du Paillon is officially 10 years old, and as this remarkable oasis in the heart of Nice celebrates a decade of revitalising the cityscape, it is also gearing up for another era of expansion.  

In the not-so-distant past, the bed of the Paillon River was where the washerwomen of Nice gathered. Gradually, however, the waterway was slowly covered up by a growing city, starting in 1867. Roads, squares, such as Place Masséna in 1881, and even entire neighbourhoods were erected over the ancient fleuve until it was fully concealed right down to the sea.  

A decade ago, the now vibrant park space was an unremarkable site, serving as a bus station and a car park, amongst other concrete edifices. Then, on 26th October 2013, the big transformation began, led by Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi’s visionary project: the Coulée Verte.  

The Promenade du Paillon traces the riverbed of the ancient waterway that flowed through Nice for centuries. Photo credit: Ville de Nice

Today, the former riverbed is revived, albeit in greenery rather than flowing water, and has developed a reputation as the “lungs” of the city.  

With 7,000 different species, the park stands as a testament to biodiversity. Visitors and passersby can explore Mediterranean species like olive trees, vines and fig trees, as well as flora from far-flung destinations, from Oceania to South America, thanks to Nice’s mild climate.  

“A real asset for our city, it values its natural heritage and offers a botanical journey across the continents,” says Estrosi. 

One of its most well-known, and best-loved, features is the exceptional water mirror space, which measures more than 100 metres in length and is 30 metres wide. It is an engineering masterpiece, and its 132 water jets create a mesmerising spectacle that is particularly adored by the thousands of children who play in its cooling waters every summer.  

The water mirror measures an impressive 106 metres by 30 metres. Photo credit: Ville de Nice

The next age of transformation 

Beginning earlier this year with the demolition of the Acropolis exhibition centre, the next stage of the transformation of the Promenade du Paillon will add a further eight hectares of green space to its current 20 hectares.  

Among the changes to come is a complete overhaul of the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain and the area surrounding the culture and arts centre. Additionally, in the space where the 70,000 tonnes of concrete that was the Acropolis congress centre once stood will be a tranquil reading garden complete with atmospheric ponds and pools.  

In the Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny sector, a series of cisterns with a capacity equal to two Olympic swimming pools will be built to store rainwater. These cisterns will play a crucial role in making the Promenade du Paillon self-sufficient in water.  

The city of Nice has pledged to plant more than 1,500 trees in the newest parts of the Promenade du Paillon, which will help remove 1,700 tonnes of CO2 annually.  

In all, it will cost €75 million and is expected to reach completion at the end of 2025. 

Embracing the future 

As the Promenade du Paillon enters its next decade, it remains a cherished haven for the people of Nice, symbolising the city’s commitment to sustainable, nature-friendly urban development as well as a place for friends and families to come together.  

The 20 hectares of public space have become a haven for families. Photo credit: Ville de Nice

“For its 10th birthday, I wish the same success for ‘Season Two’ of the Promenade du Paillon, which is one of the busiest places in our city,” says Estrosi. 


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Photo credit: Ville de Nice