One of our favourite things to do en famille is head down to the seafront at Cagnes sur Mer loaded up with bikes, rollerblades, go-karts, scooters and the powerwing for a few hours of sea air and exercise. The pavement is wide, with a cycle lane between it and the road and it attracts all sorts of wheeled contraptions. Families push prams and teach kids to ride their bikes, young couples rollerblade hand in hand, while others set up music and circuits to show off their prowess on wheels. Teenagers zip in and out on skateboards and waveboards, serious cyclists put their heads down and power along the cycle path, joggers jog and people of all ages mosey along.
The seafront is set up for this kind of activity from Villeneuve-Loubet to Nice, with cycle lanes and wide pedestrain paths all the way to the old town in Nice at the eastern end of the Promenade des Anglais (which by then has become the Quai des Etats Unis!) This makes it possible to do a 15 km (one way) flat bike ride without using roads which makes it a great activity to do with children. Starting at the iconic block of flats “Marina Baie des Anges”, a controversial landmark that you either love or hate (I’m in the “love” gang), the first bit of the path is along a boardwalk next to the beach and nowhere near the road. Continuing along here you come out at the Loup river and have to carry your bikes up the steps to the bridge. Now you’re in Cagnes sur Mer with the racetrack on your left (fun nights out in the summer watching the trots can be had here but that’s for another post) and fabulous views of the medieval old town of Hauts de Cagnes and the mountains beyond. For the length of the beach at Cagnes the pedestrain path is wide with plenty of room for everyone and lined with cafés, snack bars, ice-cream places and restaurants for refreshments. After passing the small fishing port at Cros de Cagnes on your right the cycle track follows close to the road for a short while in St Laurent du Var, crosses the wide Var river, passes the airport on your right and becomes wider and further from the traffic once again in Nice.
The enormous boulevard running the length of the Baie des Anges (the Bay of Angels) is the lifeline of the city of Nice, and its wide seafront pavement is where residents and visitors come out to play but it’s funny to think it wasn’t always this way. Nice was originally built facing north, the sea of little interest and the shoreline itself just a little track with the railway line running along the coast. It was the English aristocracy who invented the art of promenading by the sea, taking the air, in the nineteenth century when they started spending winters on the Côte d’Azur, hence the name la Promenade des Anglais.
Cycling along the Prom you really appreciate the sense of space and vastness of this urban bay. The beach is an 8 kilometre stretch of pale grey pebbles and bright turquoise water. The colours are so intense it’s not hard to see why so many artists have been inspired here. I never tire of the Prom with it’s magnificent palm trees, white pergolas, blue metal chairs (for contemplating the beautiful azure sea) and luxurious palaces. It all feels so exotic and somehow further away than southern France. I feel like I’m on holiday every time I go to Nice and yet I only live half an hour away. I’m inspired to take photos in every different light, I’m never without my camera, and wish I could paint to capture its magic. I know I’m lucky living here!
But back to the bike ride, if 30 kms (there and back) is too far, not to worry you can rent a bike one way using the Vélo Bleu system of hire-by-the-hour public bikes as there are stations to be found the length of this ride. Then just hop on the bus back to where you started. There are places to hire children’s bikes and pedal-karts for whole families and we are happy to lend a variety of different sized bikes (including a babyseat), scooters and rollerblades to our guests at Lou Messugo. Cycling or walking along the seafront is something that can be enjoyed by all ages in all seasons; on a sunny winter’s day you get views across to the snowy Alps and on a hot summer’s day you can cool off in the sea. Do you see now why it’s one of our favourite activities?
If you’re looking for more things to do in Nice and the Côte d’Azur I recommend these related articles:
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