PLAYGROUNDS on the French Riviera

I thought it was due time to update my previous blog post about playgrounds on the French Riviera.  If you have children, the region has lots of options for playground fun.

I have included mostly free public options in my list here, so if you have any questions feel free to post your question in the comments below the post (if there is an entrance fee I have specified where relevant).

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just an overview of a few playgrounds we have tried and tested on the Côte d’Azur.

PLAYGROUNDS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR

ANTIBES

– UPDATE 19 August 2018:  Unfortunately, the 2 public playgrounds in Antibes old town on rue Republique, beside the carousel and main post office (La Poste) have been closed due to construction works for the Marenda Lacan new shopping precinct.  Construction work has been stalled for some months now, so it is a great shame that tourists and local residents have no playgrounds for use during summer 2018. The nearest public playground to old town Antibes is on the way to Salis beach at the bottom of Albert 1er.

– 2 public playgrounds at Salis beach (plage du Ponteil) – one is nearer to the Archaeology Museum beside the boules pitch and there is a public toilet beside that; the other is very small and located opposite the carpark at the beach.

The Jardin Enfant Albert 1er is the closest playground to old town Antibes

– Small fenced playground on the corner of avenue Philippe Rochat and avenue Mas Ensoleillé.

– Medium-sized fenced playground between route de Grasse and Hameau de la Palmeraie with climbing structures, rocking horses, slides.

– A playground at Les Semboules area, next to Jacques Prévert school.  This is a great playground for hot days as it is entirely shaded by trees.  Plenty of free carparking across the road.  Suitable for toddler age to older kids, there is also a basketball court and ping-pong table adjacent and picnic tables. No toilet facilities onsite and the water fountain doesn’t work, but a great playground nonetheless because it is a community playground and never busy.

– Parc Départemental Valmasque:  Between Antibes and Mougins this large park has forest walks, fitness trails and playground equipment.  Lots of shady trees, picnic tables and toilet facilities.

Indoor soft play centre – Royal Kids – has slides, ball pits, motorised cars. Suitable for babies up to 12 years. Admission fee applies. www.royalkids.fr

CAGNES SUR MER

– Large playground zone beside parking Villette.  There is an accessible pay toilet beside the playground. Lots of play equipment for different ages including climbing frames, swings (including a baby swing), rockers as well as a mock road system which is great for scooters and bikes.

CANNES

– A playground is located at Square Mistral which is a good option for beach goers along the boulevard du Midi.  It is 5 minutes flat walk from Cannes Vieux Port.

– Adjacent to the Palais des Festivals on boulevard de Croisette (near to the public beach where the Petit Train departs from):  Children’s entertainment area including carousel, funfair stalls, snack kiosks.  There is a small climbing frame, but it’s pretty unimaginative.  Public toilets are nearby on the beachside of the Croisette.

– Further along boulevard de Croisette in the direction of Port Pierre Canto, there is another public playground at the end of the beach with playground equipment.

CANNES LA BOCCA

– Indoor soft play – FunCity, 47 avenue Maurice Chevalier, 06150 Cannes la Bocca:  Indoor playground facility with designated playareas for different ages, large climbing frames with tunnels, nets, slides, trampolines, soft toys, ball pits, inflatables, mini-karts, onsite restaurant for snacks and gift boutique.  Entrance fee payable http://cannes.fun-city.fr

GOLFE JUAN

– Small playground at Square Nabonnand on the main road by the post office.

JUAN LES PINS

– Main playground is at Pinède Gould (also known as Jardin de la Pinède) with playground equipment, mini-train, dodgem bumper cars and mini-carousel. (Rides are chargeable). There are also squirrels to watch that roam free in the pine trees in the park.

– Another carousel is on avenue Guy de Maupassant on the Juan les Pins promenade beside Le Ruban Bleu restaurant, and just along from the carousel toward La Jétee restaurant there are go-karts and trampolines in summer.

– There is a public playground/park at Jardin Pauline (corner of rue Pauline and boulevard Raymond Poincaré).  Lots of trees so it’s great for hot days!

– Another small fenced public playground at Square Duluys (corner of rue St-Marguerite and boulevard Raymond Poincaré).

– Parc Exflora, chemin du Vallauris, between Juan les Pins and Golfe Juan:  Large open grassed area for picnics (no playground equipment).  Small lake for feeding ducks.  You can obtain access to the public beach via a tunnel under the coast road/railway line.  Across the road from Parc Exflora on the corner of chemin des Eucalyptus there is a boules pitch and a small playground with public toilets nearby.

LA COLLE SUR LOUP

– Ludiparc, 1401 route du Pont de Pierre, 06480 Le Colle sur Loup: Park set on 4.8 hectares with trees and river frontage, playground equipment, climbing frames, trampolines, inflatable castles, mini-golf, ping-pong tables, restaurant onsite for snacks, carparking onsite, Wifi connection, baby changing table.  Entrance fee payable €4 (free for children under 3 years) www.ludiparc.fr  Note:  The terrace and toilet facilities are not wheelchair accessible.  The biggest benefit of Ludiparc is they have water activities that are perfect for hot days including a splash park and access to the River Loup.

Ludiparc, La Colle sur Loup (photo: Vence Tourisme)

– There are a few public playareas in La Colle sur Loup – on rue Max Barel in the village, at Jeu de Baume down from the rue Clémenceau, and at the Parc de la Guérinière.

MONACO/MONTE CARLO

While not technically classed as part of France, I have included Monaco/Monte Carlo as many visitors stay in Monaco or daytrip there.

– If you have children you can stop at Parc Princesse Antoinette (Princess Antoinette Gardens), La Condamine, 54 bis boulevard du Jardin Exotique, 98000 Monaco – a free park with go-karts and a playground.  Older children can be entertained there by mini golf, badminton, ping-pong, a football pitch and basketball courts.

– There are carousels near the Stade Nautique, and on the Larvotto Esplanade. – In the Fontvielle area, there is a playground by the Princess Grace Rose Garden and a carousel near the Fontvielle Big Top. Kids can wander around the Trocadéro Gardens, or after some retail therapy the family can enjoy time out at the children’s playground area at the end of the pedestrianised rue Princesse Caroline.

– Another great spot to take the kids and escape the bustle of Monaco, is the free Japanese Garden on avenue Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo – a real oasis of serenity with  waterfalls, stone bridges and Zen gardens.  You can’t run around or kick balls but it’s a nice zone to wander through.

MOUANS SARTOUX

-Playground at the Château

MOUGINS

– Free entry playground at Ecoparc Mougins, on chemin de Fontaine de Currault. Accessible eco-toilet onsite at the playground, climbing frames, swings (including a baby swing), small ropes courses, playhouses, balancing beams. The play area has seating and lots of trees for shade. Nearby at the Ecoparc centre is a cafeteria that sells cold drinks and icecreams, and sometimes there are amusement rides such as vertical bungee or bouncy castles set up in summer (rides are payable).

NICE

– Parc du Chateau, rue de Foresta/Montée Monfort:  Located at the end of quai des Etats-Unis overlooking Nice, this park is on the hilltop with old ruins, a waterfall, playground, restaurant, lookout points over Nice city and port and snack kiosk.  There are public toilets onsite.  You can take an elevator up from quai des Etats-Unis, or if you are stroller-free walk up the numerous stairs for a wonderful view from the top.

– Parc Phoenix – find out more about Parc Phoenix here.

– Located on the western edge of the ‘Musiciens’ quarter in Nice (so named because the streets and squares are named after famous musicians such as Verdi) you can find the Jardin Alsace Lorraine, 30 boulevard Gambetta, with park benches, statues and a fenced in children’s playground.

-Parc Carol de Roumanie with water sprinklers and play equipment

– Central Nice play area – There is a carousel at Albert 1er gardens, also the Promenade du Paillon/Couloir Verte playarea at place Massena with sprinklers, wooden play structures, swings.  Accessible toilets onsite.

– Parc du Castel des Deux Rois not far from Nice Port with playground, water sprinklers in summer, mini-farm, accessible pay toilet, snack kiosk, lots of grass to kick a ball around, cycle paths

ParcCasteldesdeuxrois2

Parc du Castel des Deux Rois, Nice

OPIO

– Parc de Loisirs on the Carrefour du Piol, D3 d’Opio-Valbonne is a great park with a big playground zone with play equipment for just-walking age, toddlers and older kids.  Slides, climbing ladders, basketball court, exercise station, cycle paths, grassy areas for kicking balls around, accessible public toilet, picnic tables. No snack kiosk onsite but there is a bakery nearby towards Valbonne. Between May-mid June they install skate ramps for initiations in skateboarding and roller blading.

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

Parc de Loisirs, Opio (playground Opio)

ST TROPEZ

– Plage des Graniers, located beneath the St Tropez citadel gets busy in summer but is family-friendly and offers a few different playgrounds beach-side.

– Plage des Jumeaux, route d’Epi, Plage de Pampelonne, Ramatuelle is a good place to take kids where adults can watch the kids on the playground on the beach.

VALBONNE/SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS:

– Playground in Valbonne on Val du Tuveret beside the big carpark and skate park.  There is a toddler playground on the road with Hôtel de Ville and the Abbaye de Valbonne.

– Parc des Bouillides, route du Parc, 06560 Valbonne Sophia Antipolis:  It is closer to the Sophia Antipolis area than Valbonne but is zoned as Valbonne by the local parks.  Access from Antibes is via route du Parc and look for the small side road on the right-hand side with a small sign leading to the restaurant ‘La Source’ and carpark. Fenced playground with soft matted area, running track, walking trails, also has municipal sports athletics club, climbing wall, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, skate park.  Picnic tables all through the park, and paved pathways which are well-maintained for scooters and bikes.  No toilet facilities onsite.

VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER

– A public playground is located at les Jardins de l’Octroi, Square François Binon, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer.

– Another small public playground is also beside Port de la Darse, you can reach it via the coastal pathway below the Citadelle but be aware that this pathway while paved is uneven in places.

public playground by Darse port

Public playground by Darse port in Villefranche sur Mer

VILLENEUVE LOUBET

– Parc de Vaugrenier:  2 kilometres towards Nice from Antibes this park has walking paths, picnic tables and forest walks.  A children’s playground area, nature trail, wooden confidence course and accessible toilet facilities are at the eastern entrance.  There is also a lookout hut over the lake to view turtles.

NOTE:  For a map and more details of other playgrounds in the region, Nice Matin has a great interactive map with location pins that you can find here: Playgrounds on the Côte d’Azur

 

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Activities – ANTIBES (Piccolo Festival – children’s theatre 02-05 Nov 2012)

The first weekend in November is the 3rd edition of the Piccolo Festival – a local theatre event for children in Antibes (aged 8 months and upwards).

Piccolo Festival

There will be sessions with clowns, magicians, marionnette dolls, dancing and songs.

Location: Salle du huit Mai, 06600 Antibes

Cost:  6€ per child per session, or 15€ for three sessions / 9€ adults, or 24€ for three sessions

Reservations are essential by either email piccolo.festival@aaatheatre.net or in person in advance at the ticket office at Espace Bonzai, 21 avenue Gazan, 06600 Antibes, open Tuesday-Thursday 10am-5pm

For show times and dates:  see the programme here http://a10.idata.over-blog.com/4/55/61/20/Piccolo-Festival-2012/Affiches-2012/PICCOLO-FESTIVAL-2.jpg

Activities – Week 03 Sept – 09 Sept

Here are some free family-friendly options for entertainment this week on the French Riviera:

SATURDAY 08 SEPTEMBER

Antibes:  Fête de la jeunesse et des sports – The seventh year of a free sports day with over 90 sports and cultural demonstrations.  Inflatable castles, pony rides, climbing wall, sumo suits.  10am-6pm at Fort Carré.

Antibes:  Fête des vendanges (Grape harvest festival) – Held in the small commune of Safranier, grape pressing and wine tasting.  6pm-8pm, Place de Safranier.

Grasse:  Bio Grasse – Eco-festival held on both days of this weekend showcasing market stalls, conferences, renewable energy, bio food and lifestyle products.  Lunch kiosks onsite, or option for starred chef to cook lunch (at additional cost).  9am-6pm, Cours Honoré-Cresp and Palais des Congrès.

Juan les Pins:  Fireworks over Baie de Juan, 10pm.  Best location to watch from is ‘Bijou Blage’ restaurant (reservations accepted).

Mougins:  Fête de la rentrée country – ‘Far West’ carnival with pony rides, cowboys, indians, mini-farm, archery, lasso demonstrations and a concert and country dance in the evening.   From 10am-late, Place des Arcades, Mougins-le-haut.

Nice:  Lou Festin du Pouort – festival at Nice port including street theatre, music, food stalls, fireworks. From 5pm.  Note:  Major roads in and around the port will be closed to traffic from 5pm.  Free shuttle buses will travel between Palais de la Méditerranée and Palais des Expositions and the port from 6pm-8.30pm and 11pm-1am.

Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne: Fête de la Saint-Ferréol – From Friday 07 Sep-Sunday 09 Sep, boules competition, fireworks 9.45pm on Saturday evening followed by a ball. Sunday has more boules, cart parade and Provençal costumes. See fête programme here http://www.saintcezairesursiagne.fr/?q=content/fete-de-la-saint-ferreol

Saint-Vallier-de-Thiey:  Le Grand C – Theatre, humour, human pyramids, circus and acrobatic display.  Recommended for children 7 years and older as start time is 9pm. Held at the Grand Pré.

Villefranche-sur-Mer:  Vertige des Fleurs – Theatre and music from 5pm at Jardin de la roseraie, la Citadelle.

SUNDAY 09 SEPTEMBER

Grasse: see above

Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne: see above

Tourettes-sur-Loup:  Potters market – Display from over 30 ceramicists and potters of art of the region. 9am-7pm, Place de la Libération.

Sightseeing – GOLFE JUAN / ANTIBES / JUAN LES PINS (Tuk Tuk Azur)

One of the first things I did as a tourist in Antibes was jump aboard ‘Le Petit Train’ – the little white tourist train that winds it’s way from Antibes old town along the remparts to Juan les Pins.  The journey takes roughly 20 minutes oneway and is full of photo opportunities, especially as it travels along the Antibes remparts beside Plage Gravette.  My son loves it!

Another great family experience if you are after something different is to take a trip onboard one of the new Tuk Tuks I have spotted around town.  More inclined to be seen as a common mode of transport in Asia, the Tuk Tuks in Antibes are the first electric Tuk Tuks to operate here in the south of France.  Because they are electric, they are environmentally friendly and present no harm to the environment with zero emissions.  Also, you won’t need to worry about finding a carpark space!

The Tuk Tuks have 3-seats or 6-seats and pricing is based on ‘zones’ including Antibes, Juan les Pins and Golfe Juan.  They are a unique way to see the local area and customised tours or event transport can be arranged.

For further information or to make a booking visit www.tuktukazur.com or phone/SMS: +33 (0) 627 02 65 01 (English/French spoken)

Sightseeing – Road trip playlist

This weekend my partner and I are heading to Castellane for 2 days camping, kayaking and outdoor activities.  I like traveling – whether I am the driver or the passenger, getting to the destination can be as enjoyable as arriving at the destination.

As we will not be traveling with our son (thanks to his grandmother babysitting him while we are away), our music tastes for the journey will be extended beyond child-friendly CD’s and catchy songs involving ‘A, B, C’s’ or ‘Name that animal’.  Here is my playlist compilation of road trip songs that I like for various reasons (in no particular order):

  • You and Me song – The Wannadies
  • Scar tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Canned heat – Jamiroquai
  • Just like heaven – The Cure
  • Get a move on – Mr Scruff
  • Your Song – Elton John
  • Free fallin’ – Tom Petty
  • Here’s where the story ends – The Sundays
  • Superstylin’ – Groove Armada
  • Arizona – Kings of Leon
  • Sunshine – P. Digss and Drumagick
  • Luna – Smashing Pumpkins
  • Born slippy – Underworld
  • Every day is a winding road – Sheryl Crow
  • So true – The Black Seeds
  • Starlight – Muse
  • Last request – Paolo Nutini
  • Dakota – Stereophonics
  • Love is a losing game – Amy Winehouse
  • Brazilian hipster – Fort Knox Five
  • You’ve got the love – Florence and the Machine

I would love to hear from anyone what you would include on your road trip playlist!

Happy traveling!

Sightseeing – LA GAUDE (Gallo-Romain festival)

Next weekend Friday 06 July, Saturday 07 July and Sunday 08 July the town of La Gaude is holding it’s second festival showcasing the life and times of the Gauls, and the Roman Legion.

There will be gladiator displays, druids, a mock village with taverna, iron and pottery craftsmen, a gladiator ‘school’ for children, archery lessons and music.  A banquet and concert is arranged for Saturday evening serving traditional Gaulois food including roast boar (reservations for the dinner are however full but you can go on a waiting list).  If you fancy really getting into the vibe of the festival, there will be costume hire available.

We are hoping to attend with my partner’s family, and will dress our son in appropriate Roman costume!

La Gaude is a short distance from Cagnes-sur-Mer and Nice – for festival details and directions to La Gaude visit the festival website at http://www.gaulgauda.fr

Sightseeing – ANTIBES (Fête de la Saint-Pierre)

One of the benefits of living in France is the regular occurrence of free traditional festivals.  You can absorb as little or as much as you like of the heritage and culture of religions, local customs, food and community spirit.

Next week over 3 days (29 June-01 July) – I am hoping to attend the ‘Fête de la Saint-Pierre’ held in Antibes old town.

Saint-Peter (Pierre) is the Patron Saint of fishermen, and he is honoured every year with processions through the streets, dualling competitions on boats, games, water skiiing displays, parades with paper lanterns, regattas and music.

Held this year from Friday 29 June-Sunday 01 July at Plage de la Gravette on Antibes port (accessible for baby buggies and wheelchairs)

For the programme itinerary click on the following link http://www.antibes-juanlespins.com/agenda-culturel/autres-manifestations/icalrepeat.detail/2012/06/29/462/150/fete-de-la-saint-pierre