Dangers & Annoyances
Petty theft is the worst problem you're likely to encounter. As in any tourist hotspot, it's best to remain vigilant in crowded public places such as beaches and train stations.
- Don't bring valuables to the beach, or if you do, never leave them unattended.
- If you're driving through Nice, keep your car doors locked to avoid 'grab and run' petty theft.
- Mauve stinger jellyfish (Pelagia Noctiluca) are common at certain times of year, occurring most frequently in August. If nobody is in the water, this may be the reason; ask around.
- Nice's beaches are pebbly, not sandy. Bring protective footwear.
The French Riviera Pass (www.frenchrivierapass.com) includes access to a number of sights in Nice and along the Riviera. It is available online or at the Nice tourist office.
Included in the price of the pass (one/two/three days €26/38/56): in Nice, the Musée National Marc Chagall, Nice Le Grand Tour bus and guided walking tours; along the coast, the Musée Renoir in Cagnes, the Musée National Fernand Léger in Biot, the Jardin Exotique d’Èze, and the Jardin Exotique and Musée Océanographique in Monaco.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|France's country code||33|
|International access code||00|
- Conversation Use the formal vous when speaking to anyone unknown or older than you; the informal tu is reserved for close friends, family and children.
- Churches Dress modestly (cover shoulders).
- Drinks Asking for une carafe d'eau (free jug of tap water) in restaurants is acceptable. Never end a meal with a cappuccino or cup of tea. Play French and order un café (espresso).
- French kissing Exchange bisous (cheek-skimming kisses) – at least two – with casual acquaintances and friends.
Gay & Lesbian Travellers
Nice is a very LGBT-friendly city. The epicentre of its thriving gay community is in Le Port-Garibaldi. AGLAE (www.facebook.com/AglaeLGBT) is Nice's main LGBT association, organising the city's Pink Parade pride festival each summer, along with other events throughout the year. Nice's tourist office publishes an online guide to gay-friendly accommodations and other businesses, including a list of bars and clubs (http://en.nicetourisme.com/nice-gay-friendly).
- Comprehensive travel insurance to cover theft, loss and medical problems is highly recommended.
- Paying for your airline ticket with a credit card often provides limited travel accident insurance – ask your credit-card company what it is prepared to cover.
- Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
Wi-fi is widely available throughout the city, at hotels, cafes and other public spaces.
ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels and restaurants.
ATMs can be found at the airport, the train station and on every second street corner. Visa, MasterCard and Amex are widely accepted.
You always get a better exchange rate in-country but it is a good idea to arrive in France with enough euros to take a taxi to a hotel if you have to.
- The most cost-effective way to obtain local currency (euros) is via direct cash withdrawal from an ATM.
- Commercial banks charge up to €5 per foreign-currency transaction – if they even bother to offer exchange services any more.
- Bureaux de change (exchange bureaus) are faster and easier, open longer hours and often give better rates than banks.
- Credit and debit cards, accepted almost everywhere in France, are convenient, relatively secure and usually offer a reasonable exchange rate.
- Credit cards issued in France have embedded chips – you have to type in a PIN to make a purchase. Some businesses (most notably automated, unstaffed petrol stations) will only accept chip-and-PIN-enabled credit cards.
- Visa, MasterCard and Amex can be used in shops and supermarkets and for train travel, car hire and motorway tolls.
- Don't assume that you can pay for a meal or a budget hotel with a credit card – enquire first.
- Getting cash with a credit card involves both fees (sometimes US$10 or more) and interest – ask your credit-card issuer for details. Debit-card fees are usually much less.
- Bars No tips for drinks served at bar; round to nearest euro for drinks served at table.
- Cafes and restaurants Prices automatically include a 15% service charge so there's no need to leave a tip; although many locals leave 5% to 10% extra if extremely satisfied with the service.
- Hotel porters €1 to €2 per bag.
- Taxis 10% to 15%.
- Toilet attendants €0.50.
- Tour guides €1 to €2 per person.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. Our listings generally include high-season opening hours, plus hours for other seasons where these can be succinctly listed. Shoulder and low-season hours are typically shorter than high-season hours.
Banks 9am to noon and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Saturday
Restaurants Noon to 2pm and 7pm to 10pm six days a week
Cafes 7am to 11pm
Bars 7pm to 1am
Clubs 10pm to 3am, 4am or 5am Thursday to Saturday
Shops 10am to noon and 2pm to 7pm Monday to Saturday
France's national postal service, La Poste (www.laposte.fr), is generally efficient and reliable. For rates and post office locations, see the website.
Post Office Nice's main post office.
The following jours fériés (public holidays) are observed in France:
New Year's Day (Jour de l'An) 1 January
Easter Sunday & Monday (Pâques & Lundi de Pâques) Late March/April
May Day (Fête du Travail) 1 May
Victoire 1945 8 May
Ascension Thursday (Ascension) May; on the 40th day after Easter
Pentecost/Whit Sunday & Whit Monday (Pentecôte & Lundi de Pentecôte) Mid-May to mid-June; on the seventh Sunday after Easter
Bastille Day/National Day (Fête Nationale) 14 July
Assumption Day (Assomption) 15 August
All Saints' Day (Toussaint) 1 November
Remembrance Day (L'onze Novembre) 11 November
Christmas (Noël) 25 December
The following are not public holidays in France: Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras; the first day of Lent); Maundy (or Holy) Thursday and Good Friday, just before Easter; and Boxing Day (26 December).
- Smoking Illegal in all indoor public spaces, including restaurants and pubs (though, of course, smokers still light up on the terraces outside).
Taxes & Refunds
The standard value-added tax (VAT) rate of 20% is levied on most goods and services in France. Restaurants and hotels must always include VAT in their prices.
Non-EU residents can claim a VAT refund for purchases over €175, provided the goods are for personal consumption and are being personally transported home; retailers have details.
- Calling France from abroad Dial your country's international access code, then 33 (France's country code), then the 10-digit local number without the initial zero.
- Calling internationally from France Dial 00 (the international access code), the indicatif (country code), the area code (without the initial zero if there is one) and the local number.
Most modern European, Australian and American cell phones are compatible with French networks; if in doubt, check with your provider before leaving home. It is almost always cheaper to bring an unlocked phone and purchase a French SIM card.
- French mobile phone numbers begin with 06 or 07.
- Most modern smartphones work on a variety of frequencies and can be used in France regardless of their country of origin.
- Check with your service provider about roaming charges – dialling a mobile phone from a fixed-line phone or another mobile can be incredibly expensive.
- It is usually cheaper to buy a local SIM card from a French provider such as Orange, SFR, Bouygues or Free Mobile, which gives you a local phone number. To do this, ensure your phone is unlocked.If you already have a compatible phone, you can slip in a SIM card and rev it up with prepaid credit.
- Recharge cards are sold at most tabacs (tobacconist-newsagents), supermarkets and online through websites such as Topengo (www.topengo.fr).
Carrying your own charger and cable is the only sure way of ensuring you don't run out of juice. Don't be shy to ask in cafes and restaurants if you can plug in and charge – if you ask nicely, most will oblige. In Nice the odd cafe lends cables to customers and savvy taxi drivers stock a selection of smartphone-compatible cables and chargers for passengers to use.
- Love them (as a sci-fi geek) or loathe them (as a claustrophobe), Nice's 24-hour self-cleaning toilets are here to stay. These mechanical WCs (you'll find 20 of them around the city) are free but allow limited time for dawdling: you have precisely 15 minutes before being (ooh-la-la!) exposed to passers-by. Green means libre (vacant) and red means occupé (occupied).
- There are also 11 pay toilets (adult/child €0.50/free), including the centrally located ones along Promenade du Paillon.
- Some older establishments and motorway stops still have the hole-in-the-floor toilettes à la turque (squat toilets). Provided you hover, these are actually very hygienic, but take care not to get soaked by the flush.
- Keep some loose change handy for tipping toilet attendants, who keep a hawk-like eye on many of Nice's public toilets.
- The French are completely blasé about unisex toilets, so save your blushes when tiptoeing past the urinals to reach the ladies' loo.
Tourist Office Nice’s main tourist office on Promenade des Anglais provides a wealth of resources, including maps, brochures, information about attractions and help booking accommodations.
Travel with Children
Children are well catered for in Nice, with an abundance of beaches, parks, playgrounds and publicly sponsored kids' events. Nice's tourist office publishes a guide to family travel (http://en.nicetourisme.com/family-friendly-nice), which includes listings of kid-friendly activities, parks, playgrounds and other resources.
Playtime on the Promenade du Paillon
The Promenade du Paillon, a long grassy park that follows the tram tracks along the former course of the Paillon River, is a great spot for kids to get their wiggles out. Extending approximately 1km from Jardin Albert 1er near the waterfront to Nice's modern art museum, it has a fabulous outdoor playground near its eastern edge, featuring a variety of whimsical play structures shaped like sea creatures. At the park's western edge near place Masséna, kids love playing in the 128 water jets, which shoot out water and mist at unpredictable intervals and get lit up colourfully at night.
If you're visiting with children in December, don't miss Nice's city-sponsored Christmas village in Jardin Albert 1er near place Masséna, which offers a kids' playground, ice skating, rides on a giant Ferris wheel and visits with Père Noël (Santa Claus).
Travellers with Disabilities
While Nice presents evident challenges for visiteurs à mobilité réduite (disabled visitors) – most notably the narrow streets of Vieux Nice, which can be a nightmare to navigate in a wheelchair, plus a lack of kerb ramps, older public facilities and many budget hotels without lifts – don't let that stop you from visiting. Efforts are being made to improve the situation and with a little careful planning, a hassle-free accessible stay is possible. Public transport in particular has made great strides towards accessibility. Nice's tram lines are equipped with wide doors and easy-access platforms for wheelchairs, and Mobil'azur (www.mobilazur.org) offers on-demand bus service for disabled visitors. Two of Nice's public beaches (Plage du Centenaire and Plage de Carras) are equipped for wheelchair use, with ramps down to the water, amphibious wheelchairs and dedicated parking and restroom facilities for disabled visitors.
Plage de Carras also offers facilities for the visually impaired: swimmers equipped with a special wrist strap can monitor their location using a system of four orientation beacons spaced 15m apart. Other services for the visually impaired include tactile strips at bus and tram stops to guide passengers to the boarding zone.
ARDDS (www.ardds.org), a leading national organisation for the hearing impaired, has an office in Nice at 12 place Garibaldi and is actively campaigning to encourage local cinemas to show films with French subtitles. For a list of currently subtitled films all over France, see www.cinest.fr. France also has a nationwide hearing assisted emergency telephone number (114).
For further info see Nice Tourisme's handy Nice Accessible: Guide Pratique (www.nicetourisme.com/nice-accessible), visit the French national website www.accessible.net, or download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Organisations such as Go Abroad (www.goabroad.com), Transitions Abroad (www.transitionsabroad.com), Workaway (www.workaway.info) and GeoVisions (www.geovisions.org) occasionally list volunteer work opportunities in Nice on their websites. Typical assignments include staffing the desk at a youth hostel or teaching English to a French family in exchange for room and board.