Heir to a long tradition of sea conquests, encounters of cultures and welcoming sea resort for Mediterranean mild weather lovers, the second-largest city by the Mediterranean Sea in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region is gaining other achievements centred on the concept of smart city.
Nice is not a cliché, starting from its name closely related to the concept of beauty from the tradition of Ancient Greece. In modern times, is an undisputed tourist destination in the South of France hosting the second airport of France. But its reputation is strongly moving forward a winning laboratory of sustainability, energy transition and blue economy.
The Métropole Nice Côte d'Azur (intercommunal structure, centered on the city of Nice) is strongly committed to improve the quality of life of citizens of the urban area through a series of concrete actions in part already realised and others in progress. Besides that, a parade of international events is about to be hosted in the Capitale Azuréenne, notably: the Nice Climate Summit in September 2023 and the Third United Nations Ocean Conference that will take place in 2025, an event considered strategic by the French Government.
Nice Metropolitan City has been investing for more than a decade in a number of important actions of climate mitigation and sustainable mobility to make smarter the vast urban territory. The Promenade du Pailllon, nicknamed the Coulée Verte (Green Corridor), was inaugurated in 2013 after an impressive urban redevelopment project aimed at creating a unique green area in the heart of the city to allow visitors to relax and be in contact with nature. A beneficial detaching-the-mind zone to have a break from the iconic 'movida' of the coastal Promenade des Anglais, the Vieux Nice (Nice old town) and the commercial area, all located nearby. Not by chance, it was awarded the Grand Prix du Jury within the Victoires du Paysage 2014, well known contest which is organised every year on the French territory.
A gathering of more than 2,000 plants from exotic continents characterise this long stream made of fountains, spaces for fun and leisure with children installations inspired by the great marine creatures. The feeling is to enter a botanical garden open to all where plant species from Africa, North and South America, Australia, Asia, Oceania coexist alongside the Mediterranean bush thanks to the microclimate of the Riviera. The space acts also as a green carpet for temporary exhibitions, art showrooms and other cultural, music and social activities linked to Nice heritage. Close to Place Massena up to the Albert I Garden, a wide water mirror of 3,000 square metres equipped with 128 jets on a stone bed pays tribute to this vital element.
And the green extension does not intend to stop with the aim to generate a vast greenery hub extended for about twenty hectares. Designed by the architects João Luis Carrilho de Graça and Alexandre Chemetoff, the ambitious architectural project aims to reinvent the upstream district, demolish the existing TNN (Théâtre National de Nice) and the Acropolis to create a few miles after an avant-garde structure that meets new needs and equipment. Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice, is willing to allow citizens to further improve their quality of life by conceiving a unique fil vert able to reduce traffic noise, mitigate temperatures during heat waves and reduce CO2 emissions up to 1,740 tonnes per year thanks to extra 1,500 trees that will be planted in the area.
The Paillon extension is also intended to foster soft mobility in town with special regard to the use of bicycles and pedestrian links. In this regard, two-way lanes and widened sidewalks will allow smooth mobility to flow. Thus, Nice could soon climb in the top rankings as a bike friendly city. Besides it, intermodality is growing exponentially with an increasing number of parkings connected with the Lignes d'Azur, the electric tram and bus lines as well as the train links which have greatly simplified the fluidity of city traffic and the connections to the international Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, the second most important airport in France. In particular, tram lines 1 and 2 serve up to 260,000 people, corresponding to 2/3 of the population of Nice, serving citizens, tourists and other visitors.
But the urban forest is expected to conquer also the Vallée du Var, with special regard to the mouth of Var river on the west side of the city. Public works to build up the Grand Parc de la Plaine du Var are about to start in a few years to shape a Coulée Verte Bis as part of an Operation of National Interest. The new green district should take place by 2030 in a huge plane from the Charles-Ehrmann Stadium to the Plaine du Var park to develop a territory of twenty hectares currently degraded. By the will of the Métropole Nice Côte Azur, the renovation works intend to return 60% of the territory to its natural state. The idea is to create "varied landscape environments", including urban agricultural, food and horticultural spaces together with sport and recreational facilities. A win-win combination which would definitely make Nice the Capital of Sustainability.
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing