Nice Côte d’Azur: a coastline with an exceptional plant heritage

2 May 2023

If the French Riviera is an ideal destination in any season, we must admit that spring remains one of our favourite seasons!

The days are getting longer, the sun is warmer and it is also an opportunity to take advantage of the tree-lined spaces that we had somewhat neglected.
Whether they are public, private or created on a temporary basis, the gardens around us are numerous and are just waiting to be discovered or rediscovered.
On your own or with a guide, whether you are an expert or a simple amateur, you will enjoy admiring the beauty of Mother Nature who offers us a unique show!

1 – The French Riviera, a land of acclimatisation

With one of the most temperate climates, our maritime coasts have been, for centuries, a favourable place for the acclimatisation of plant species, imported from far away lands.

Although the Romans and Greeks were responsible for the arrival of many fruit trees (such as the olive tree, the star of our terraces!), it was really during the Belle Époque that the cultivation of tropical plants spread on the French Riviera. The arrival of wealthy overwinterers, caught up in their passion for botany, led to the introduction of many plants encountered during their travels. 

If, like us, you thought that the famous palm trees of the Promenade des Anglais have always been part of the botanical landscape of our coasts, then you are wrong.

In fact, there are different varieties of palm trees from all over the world. Canary Islands, Asia, California… perfectly adapted, they have become an emblem of our landscapes and gardens. 

Like the palms, many plants have become completely acclimatised on the French Riviera : the mimosa (Australia), the camphor tree and the hibiscus (Asia), the jacaranda and the bougainvillea (South America), the agave and the prickly pear (Mexico), the strelizia (South Africa), the jasmine (China) among others…

Did you know?

The hills of Nice have always been covered with flowers!

The best known? The Nice carnation!
At the end of the 19th century, Nice was even the world capital of flowers.

If the culture is more modest nowadays, the tradition is still well anchored.

The best witness to this past is undoubtedly the famous Marché aux fleurs (or Flower Market) on the Cours Saleya, a must-see during a stay in Nice.

2 – Natural areas in the heart of cities

The coastline, renowned for its beaches and footpaths, is also an ideal place to enjoy the many tree-lined areas (from large parks to more intimate gardens) found in towns that have managed to preserve their plant heritage. Something to delight nature lovers ! For a simple stroll or to admire the species that bloom each season, there is something for everyone…

Following the example of the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer, which has numerous parks and gardens (there are no less than 7 natural parks, including a rather unexpected one in the Polygone Riviera centre), the other towns along the coast are not to be outdone.

In Nice, you can’t miss a walk on the Promenade du Paillon, which is a real “nature” interlude in the heart of the city. Moreover, Nice aims to be “the green city of the Mediterranean”.

We like: Some of the parks and gardens in the city of Nice are equipped with playgrounds for children and are places of conviviality and relaxation.

Find the list of Nice’s parks and gardens here.

But if you want to learn more about the flora around you then we advise you to follow a guide!

Several cities in the metropolitan area offer guided tours of their plant heritage. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the flora of our gardens and to (slightly) impress the gallery during your next family outing!

Villa Marro in Cagnes-sur-Mer

Private family pleasure garden where old-fashioned methods are still used. It can be visited by reservation.

The “balade botanique” in Beaulieu-sur-Mer

A route to follow on your own or with a guide, to discover the most beautiful plant species of the French Riviera.

The interactive visit of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

With a guide or in a fun and interactive way, two ways to discover the plant heritage of the peninsula.

Visit of the village and the “Jardin Exotique” of Eze

Follow the guide as you climb to the top of this medieval village where the exotic garden culminates

The history of Cap d’Ail through its gardens
Discover the plant heritage where Belle Epoque heritage and nature coexist in perfect harmony.

It should be noted that most of the towns have also been awarded the “Villes et Villages fleuris” label. This label is awarded for flowers, the living environment and green spaces.

Jardin Exotique d’Eze

3 – Remarkable gardens of the coastline

Recognised for the beauty and the exceptional nature of their site, the remarkable gardens are a real invitation to travel! Some contain rare plant species.
Whether you are an experienced botanist or a simple amateur, you will enjoy discovering them, walking through them and sometimes studying them… Let’s go and discover 5 “remarkable” gardens that should not be missed under any pretext.

The highest  – The “Jardin Exotique” of Eze

Situated at an altitude of 429 metres at the top of the village of Eze, it offers an exceptional panorama of the entire Riviera ! Set up in the ruins of a medieval fortress, you will find succulents, potted plants, Mediterranean plants and exotic plants.
We like: the Zen area with its waterfall and misters in a subtropical atmosphere. A real moment of relaxation facing the sea!

The most romantic – the gardens of the Villa Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

A true Belle Epoque jewel, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild transports you out of time! With its nine themed gardens, you will enjoy wandering from one universe to another while admiring the beauty that surrounds you. In spring, don’t miss the Spanish garden, where fragrant plants bloom from March onwards!
We like: the French garden with its ponds and waterfalls and its temple of Diana. Throughout the visit, musical water games make the visit a bit magical.

The most atypical The Parc Phoenix

To the west of Nice, this 7-hectare green setting offers a real change of scenery! Outside there are about twenty themed gardens.
The highlight of the visit is undoubtedly the emblematic 25 metre high greenhouse (one of the highest in Europe). It contains tropical and subtropical species that transport us into a luxuriant jungle where all our senses are awakened !
We like: the observation of the animals present in the park, some of which are in the wild (2000 species). Many activities are proposed for families, there is even a tree climbing.

Serre Parc Phoenix
Jardin du Parc Phoenix

The most educational Jardin botanique of Nice

This municipal garden located on the hillside is a real trip to the heart of the Mediterranean, but not only! With more than 3000 plants represented, it is the ideal place to make discoveries and learn more about the plants that surround us. It is also an ideal place for quiet walks. 
We like: its view over the Baie des Anges and the calm that reigns there.

The most secretive – Le jardin de l’Argelière in la Gaude

Not far from the village of La Gaude, between the sea and the mountains, this little 3000 m² corner of paradise will surprise you! Set up on the terraces of a gîte, on the edge of the wood, you will find local species preserved in respect of the environment.
We like: visits are organised from April to September by appointment.

It is difficult to imagine our territory without all the plants and colours that have made our reputation. The French Riviera has become a veritable “open-air garden”, with tree-lined areas that are an integral part of our urban environments.

They are just waiting for you!

Émilie et Laetitia