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

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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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Children’s parties and workshops in Antibes with Accent Party

Where to go for children’s parties and workshops in Antibes

There are numerous holiday programmes for children of school age, and museums often schedule workshops during the year but there is a lack of venues for families on the French Riviera who may need a space for children’s parties or organised activities.

Accent Party, located in Antibes, is filling this gap in the market by offering a venue of 80m2 for children’s parties and arts and crafts workshops.

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What Accent Party offers

  • A safe, clean venue for children’s parties including themed decorations, activities, music, toys to play with, dress-up costumes, balloons and options for cake and bon bons.

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  • Themes they can arrange include Star Wars, Pricesse Sofia,  Violetta etc and if you have a particular theme in mind you are welcome to discuss it with the owner who is very approachable and open to suggestions.

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  • A microwave for reheating baby food, and a high chair
  • Onsite toilet facilities
  • Baby change table
  • Tea and coffee facilities and armchairs so parents can relax during kids parties

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  • There is ample carparking on the street, and as the venue is situated at the end of an industrial road there is no road noise or bypass traffic
  • Holiday workshops – demand is high so book in advance – include decorating crayon pots, making puzzles etc

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  • New loyalty programme* where each child receives loyalty points to be redeemed in the future on reductions in hireage for parties or a free creative workshop *conditions apply

For more information, prices and bookings visit them at www.accentparty.fr

Like them on Facebook: Accent Party

Activities – ANTIBES (Déantibulations, 12-15 June 2014)

The 11th year of Déantibulations is being held in the streets of Antibes from 12 June – 15 June 2014, and I highly recommended it for family entertainment.

Déantibulations Festival - Spectacles de rue (poster from acla.com)

Déantibulations Festival – Spectacles de rue (poster from acla.com)

Organised by the Association Culture Loisirs Antibes (A.C.L.A), this series of free events includes over 20 public displays of theatre, fireworks, dance, circus acts including acrobatics and trapeze, mime, music including Brazilian percussion and reggae, and comedy.

I like the idea of the Caravaning Club – a mini show with pianist and singer held in the space of a caravan for just 16 spectators.

Download the festival programme here with information on dates and locations deantibulations-programme2014

Most of the shows are being held in Antibes Old Town in areas with flat, paved ground so they are accessible for families with baby strollers/buggies, and also persons with reduced mobility.

Accessible toilets are located near plage Gravette, an automated pay-toilet on rue Lacan (opposite L’Appart Thé), and at Café Félix near the port.

Activities – ANTIBES (Royal Kids, indoor play centre)

A new indoor play centre opened in February 2014 in Antibes, which has been very welcome to residents and tourists in the area after the closure of the Boomiland indoor play centre in Mougins.

First impressions are that the centre is well lit, organised and clean. Staff that work there are friendly and helpful.

Children must wear socks to use the play equipment.

The centre has 2 large party rooms available for hire for birthdays with different options (‘formules’) available, priced from €13 per child upwards. The party options include mornings, afternoons and a Friday early evening session. There must be a minimum of 8 children attending, and birthday party rooms must be reserved in advance. Dependent on which option is purchased, Royal Kids supplies unlimited access to the play equipment, birthday certificate, birthday cake, drinks and entertainment from Léon, the dragon mascot. (Note: you can not bring your own birthday cake, food or drinks). For party guests, there is a cloakroom at the centre entrance with storage boxes for shoes and gifts, and children attending the party receive a bright-coloured top to wear for the duration of the party.

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For patrons with babies, there are high chairs with safety belts to use.

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Royal Kids has clean, accessible toilets onsite – 2 each in the ladies and mens toilets, with a designated disabled access toilet in both the mens and the ladies bathroom. There are step stools for kids to reach the basins to wash hands, and the ladies bathroom also has a baby changing table.

Onsite attractions include:

– Ball pits, soft play climbing, mini football, basketball, slides, climbing frames, giant Lego building area

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– A disco room with continuous music playing, mirror ball, lights

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– Coin-operated machines/games including air hockey, football, motorised cars, vending machines with toys

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There is a snack restaurant onsite with many tables and chairs serving a range of hot and cold drinks, ice creams, paninis, crêpes etc.

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Royal Kids is an accessible play centre with 2 designated mobility carpark spaces nearby to the entrance, flat ground to the entrance and no stairs inside the centre (excluding climbing frames). There is a designated disabled access toilet in both the men’s and the ladies bathroom, and there is ample room for baby strollers/buggies.

Access:

By car: Royal Kids is located at 172 avenue Weisweiller, 06600 Antibes.

If arriving from the A8 highway, take exit 44 towards Antibes/Juan les Pins and at the third roundabout (with McDonalds/SFR/Renault/Quick) turn right onto avenue Weisweiller (the road with the ‘Quick’ fast food restaurant).

If driving from Antibes/Juan les Pins, continue up the Route de Grasse to the roundabout with McDonalds/SFR/Renault/Quick and turn onto avenue Weisweiller (the road with the ‘Quick’ fast food restaurant).

There is a free onsite carpark (14 spaces including 2 designated mobility spaces) accessed by the first road on the right-hand side Voie Tripoli. Also, ample carparking can be found on Voie Bertrand le Bon as Royal Kids is located in an industrial area.

Public transport: Royal Kids can be accessed by bus number 6 from Antibes and there is a stop ‘Foyer P. Merli’ on avenue Weisweiller that is 2 minutes walk from Royal Kids. Find the timetable at www.envibus.fr. There are no trains that travel here.

Opening hours:

Open 10am-7pm: Every Wednesday, every Saturday, every Sunday, bank holidays, every day during school holidays

Open 4pm-7pm: Friday evenings only

Prices (correct at Wednesday 09 April 2014 but subject to change)

Adults: One or two accompanying adults are free of charge; €2 each for third adult or more

Children 4 years upwards: €10 each (or buy a ‘Royal Pass’ 10 entries for €80)

Children under 4 years: €6 each (or ‘Royal Pass’ 10 entries for €50)

Group discounts available on discussion with Royal Kids

For more information on party pricing or descriptions, visit their website www.royalkids.fr

 

Activities/Sightseeing – ANTIBES (Pain, Amour & Chocolat, 14-16 February 2014)

Pain, Amour et Chocolat – or Bread, love and chocolate – may seem like an odd choice of name for a festival for non-French people however these three things are very important in France.

phoca_thumb_l_Prodotti_esposti_2013%2025This local festival held in Antibes on the weekend of Valentines Day (14 February) has a theme based around love, and the market stalls sell products including confectionery, gifts such as ceramics and jewellery, bread, pâtisseries, chocolate and conserves.

 

phoca_thumb_l_Prodotti_esposti_2013%207This year’s programme also includes Italian marching bands, circus parades through the streets of old Antibes, workshops for children (designing chocolates and pizza making), a fashion show of hairstyles themed around love, a perfume-making workshop and an archery game with a prize to win a dinner for two at a local restaurant.

phoca_thumb_l_Prodotti_esposti_2013%2021What: Pain, Amour & Chocolat festival

When: 14-16 February 2014 from 10am-7pm

Where:  place Nationale, Antibes

Free entry (excluding purchases of any products !)

Tips:  Unfortunately, Antibes old town is not the best town for free street parking, but you can locate pay-per-hour carparking at various locations. The nearest pay-per-hour carparking facility is at Parking la Poste (avenue Paul Doumer), or the new underground parking at Antibes port but be aware pay-per-hour parking is pricey – around €6 for two hours.  Both carparking facilities are less than 5 minutes walk to the festival on flat, paved surfaces.  The closest accessible toilets to the festival are located at Hotel le Cameo on place Nationale, Café brasserie Le Vieil Antibes (rue Thuret) which is next to the fountain beside the festival, or automated public pay toilets are on rue Lacan opposite Appart’the (known locally as ‘The Tearooms’).

Eat and drink – ANTIBES (La Caravane Passe)

My mother always told me ‘Trust your instincts’ and when I walked into La Caravane Passe I knew this was one of those places I was happy to find.

My blog is aimed at families who travel with baby buggies/strollers (and also wheelchair bound travellers) who need accessible restaurants however for this review I am going against the grain and reviewing a nice cafeteria that is not wholly accessible as it is a great find.

You could quite easily miss La Caravane Passe if you visit Antibes as it is not on the tourist track – it is however only a few minutes walk from the centre of the old town and is situated on rue Vauban, a through road between the La Famiglia restaurant and Don Camillos pizza restaurant.

At first glance you think you have entered an Aladdin’s cave – a wonderful array of items are displayed in the front of the shop such as exotic silks, woven fabrics, fragrant candles, crockery, cushions, distressed wooden furniture and lamps.

Photo reprinted courtesy of LaCaravanePasse.net

Photo reprinted courtesy of LaCaravanePasse.net

But my review is based on what is found at the back of this treasure trove – a secret garden, or salon de thé to be precise.  What a lovely little spot to enjoy a range of coffees (un café for €1,50), specialty teas (they have a ‘house’ specialty tea with 5-spice, cloves, ginger and cinnamon) or artisanal icecream.  It is also very quiet noise-wise and was shaded on the day I visited which offered relief from a hot day in Antibes old town heaving with summertime tourists.

Photo reprinted courtesy of LaCaravanePasse.net

Photo reprinted courtesy of LaCaravanePasse.net

The garden is reached via a set of steps (4 or 5 steps, I forgot to count!) so this is why it is not accessible with wheels – though the shop itself is.  Families with children at walking age, or travellers with reduced mobility who can manage a few steps will be fine. There is a toilet onsite that is accessed through the small workshop by the salon de thé counter; the door is a single-frame and not very wide so you can’t fit a baby buggy in but you can park it outside in the shop.

I will be returning to La Caravane Passe – I’m glad I found it and trusted my instincts to wander inside. My mum would be proud and I’ll bring her here next time she visits us.

La Caravane Passe, 37 rue Vauban, 06600 Antibes

Opening hours:  All day Tuesday-Saturday  (closed during lunch time)

 

 

Sightseeing – ANTIBES (Traditional festivals 20 and 21 July)

This coming weekend there are two local traditional festivals to attend. One is held in a small commune in Antibes old town; the other in a local suburb of greater Antibes so they will both be community-based but have different feels. My pick is to visit the Fontonne festival on the Saturday as it is more family-friendy, then for a more adult-orientated event wander past the grand ball in Safranier on Saturday night. Sunday event programme as per below.

FÊTE DE LA SAINTE MARIE-MADELEINE

This free annual festival was reignited after the end of the first world war when local gardeners felt there was peace and they should have a reason to celebrate and share in a day of feasting. They chose Marie-Madeleine as the patron of gardeners, and the statue lies in the local church all year until the time of festivities (the actual date is 22 July but it is celebrated on the preceding weekend) when it is displayed in front of the church as a boat where local gardeners give flowers as offerings.
Here is the programme for this weekend, festivities take place at place Jean Aude in quarter Fontonne, Antibes:
Saturday 20 July
9am: Treasure hunt by teams from the local area.
10am: Competition of the best ‘pan bagnat’ on the coast. Display of old motorbikes and tours of the square in sidecar or on Harley motorbikes. Pony rides for children. I have been trying to find out if the sidecar/Harley/ponyrides are at cost to no avail so expect that you have to pay a small fee.
2pm: Pétanque competition
4pm: Jimmys Band from Nice
6pm: Prizegiving for the treasure hunt, aperitif, folk dances and music from a Portugese folk group, dinner and dance.
Sunday 21 July
10am: Mass at St-Joseph church
11am: Distribution of roses from Antibes growers
11.15am: Procession through the local streets with folk group
12pm: A shared drink with festival goers

FÊTE DU SAFRANIER
I have been trying to source the history behind this festival but have not had much luck. Perhaps it is just a party for the sake of it! anyhow, if I do find out the background for these celebrations and the significance of the date I will blog it. Anyhow, here is the programme, all festivities held in the square by the tavern in Safranier:
Saturday 20 July
10pm: Grand ball – music, dancing, drinking (free for music and dancing but buy your own drinks from the tavern – I also recall locals bought their own wine along and no one seemed to care)
Sunday 21 July
12pm: Apéritif for all attendees
7pm: Degustation of the famous pesto soup
Note: Sunday is at cost and tickets can be purchased at the time of event

Bonne fêtes!