July 17, 2017

Promenade du Paillon, Nice

There's a coastal river that runs from the Alpes-Maritimes through the French city of Nice. But you won't be able to see it at the point where the Old Town and the modern city meet. This river, the Paillon, now flows beneath a 12-hectare public park, the Promenade du Paillon.

Gardens of the Promenade du Paillon, Nice

My stroll along the Promenade du Paillon began at Place Garibaldi, a charming baroque square lined by yellow ochre buildings with green shutters.

The Tramway at Place Garibaldi

Monoprix Department Store

La Civette Garibaldi

This new urban green space – Coulée Verte – opened in 2013 to replace the city's old bus station and a large car park. It includes a children's playground and the Miroir d'Eau, Mirror of Water.

Statue of David on the Allée des Italiens

Promenade du Paillon

Jacaranda Tree

Statue of Jean-André Masséna

Playful Jets of the Miroir d'Eau, Water Mirror

Nice Tourist Office

The promenade opens out onto Place Masséna, the largest square in Nice. It's hard not to notice the figures kneeling atop poles scattered about the square. They represent the seven continents in Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's Conversation à Nice. At night the figures are illuminated in changing colours.

Place Masséna, the Largest Square in Nice

Conversation à Nice, Jaume Plensa (2007)

At the other end of Place Masséna is the Fontaine du Soleil, Fountain of the Sun. A statue of Apollo stands in the middle of the fountain, as originally designed by Alfred Janniot in the 1950s. The nude figure was removed in response to a public outcry in the 1970s and only returned to its place in 2011. I find this surprising on the French Riviera, where nude bathing on public beaches was once very popular.

Fountain of the Sun (2017)

Fountain of the Sun (2010)

Between Place Masséna and the Promenade des Anglais is Jardin Albert 1erAlbert 1st Park, once the private gardens of the Belgian king. The sculpture Arc of 115.5 Degrees represents the curve of the French Riviera and Bay of Angels.

Arc of 115.5 Degrees, by Bernar Venet (1988)

Belle Epoque Carousel

Tourist Train and the Statue to Commemorate
100th Anniversary of Nice's Union with France

The Paillon River Flows into the Mediterranean Sea

We returned to Place Masséna after dinners at neighbourhood restaurants where I sampled several local specialties like the pre-dinner drink kir royale, made with crème de cassis, a black currant liqueur, and sparkling wine; and pissaladière, bread dough topped with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies.

Pissaladière and Kir Royale

Daube, a tender beef stew served with gnocchi.

Daube and Gnocchi

And a deconstructed salade niçoise with tuna, boiled eggs, green beans, tomatoes, olives and anchovies.

Deconstructed Salade Niçoise

I didn't really care for the pissaladière – it was a little too fishy for my taste – but the daube that followed it was delicious. And a balmy evening on Place Masséna, sublime.

Place Masséna at Dusk


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