Friday, January 30, 2015

Nice, France: Promenade du Paillon

A view of the ''fog'' fountain on the Promenade du Paillon
Nice is more than a pretty beach and ritzy shopping venues. It's a wonderland of creative, interactive outdoor art, mesmerizing fountains and free art museums. Many of the wonders are part of  the new Coulée Verte, or “green corridor”, officially known as the Promenade de Paillon, opened in October 2013. The park covers nearly 30 acres and spans 1.2 kilometers (.75 miles), right through the heart of Nice.
The jet fountain: people can walk amidst the pulsating jets
In order to spruce up the area once dominated by an ugly bus station and concrete multi-story car park, those structures were demolished in 2011. In their place, the city has created a green space that has turned into a public garden, complete with fountains, a variety of unusual trees, interactive art displays and playgrounds. The Promenade du Paillon was constructed over the river of the same name, buried in the nineteenth century to clean up the city. Everything in the park is designed as a reminder of the river, which still flows beneath the city.

The "fog" fountain, minus the fog
Several fountains provide a place to play: one has pulsating jets that people can walk around. The jets pulsate at different heights and rhythms, stop altogether, then start up again, so it's wise to be careful when walking around them, to avoid getting drenched. Another "fountain" emits fog, and seems to be popular with both children and adults. It provides a dramatic backdrop to wander through, and there was a male model being filmed for an advertisement while I was taking photos.

Filming in the fog
One of several play areas for children
For children, there are swings, a variety of games and giant structures to climb on,  sculpted in wood in the form of marine animals, such as whales, dolphins, turtles, and octopus.

Wooden chairs that can be moved to face different directions

Some areas have arcades with roofs, and sturdy wooden chairs that can be moved to change directions for a different view, or to turn away from the sun's rays. This vast green corridor has been planted with 1,000 trees, 61,730 shrubs and 55,364 hardy plants, and is intended as a place for recreation, well-being and tranquility.

Magical night art on the pavement
As I was walking through the garden one evening, I noticed that there were mesmerizing designs on the pavement, and the designs changed, depending on the amount of light near them and where I was standing. It seems that the pavement was painted with some type of luminescent paint that reflected light. I couldn't find any explanations of the phenomenon in Nice, but after doing some research on the internet, came across something they might have used to create this effect. Perhaps it was " a glow-in-the-dark product called “STARPATH” that can be applied to virtually any pavement surface to provide energy-free lighting once night falls. The material absorbs light during the day to create a luminous glow at night, and it is also non-slip and water-resistant, so it could reduce accidents while increasing visibility." (from Whatever the case, it added to the fun and enjoyment of the Promenade.

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