What You Need To Know
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France and the capital of the Alpes Maritimes département.
With its mix of real-city grit, old-world opulence, year-round sunshine and stunning seaside location, Nice is the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Azur, and a must-see for every visitor. A magnet for sunseekers and high-rollers since the 19th century, this bewitching coastal city has so much going for it, it’s almost embarrassing – fabulous markets, an enticing old town, glorious architecture and a wealth of super restaurants. It’s far from perfect – it’s scruffy in spots, the traffic’s horrendous and the beach is made entirely of pebbles – but if you really want to soak up the Riviera vibe, there’s really no better place to do it.
- The Euro is the official currency of France, and of most European Union member states, excluding the UK and the Czech Republic, among others. The Euro, symbolized by a “€,” has been in public circulation since January, 2002. The franc, the former official currency of France, is no longer accepted, however, you may see that some price tags in France give the price both in Euro and in francs, to help those who still think in terms of francs.
There are 8 different Euro coin denominations and 7 different Euro bill denominations in circulation. Coins are denominated in 2 and 1 Euro, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each member state decorated their own coins, but all coins are interchangeable within the countries. Bills are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and they vary in color and size.
- Credit cards are popular in France and are widely accepted in shops and restaurants, so you can pay for most things with plastic. Also cheques are still an accepted method of payment in France.
Visa or MasterCard are generally accepted everywhere. American Express and Diners Club cards are not accepted everywhere, but tend to be OK in upmarket hotels and restaurants or shops in touristy areas.
Using a credit/debit card can be double convenient if it is from another Euro-zone country, as there are usually no additional charges for payments and withdrawals in France (make sure you check with your card issuer).
Nice has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate enjoying mild winters with moderate rainfall. It is one of the warmest Mediterranean climates for its latitude. Summers are hot, dry, and sunny. Rainfall is rare in this season, and a typical July month only records one or two days with measurable rainfall. The temperature is typically above 20 °C (68 °F), and frequently reaches 30 °C (86 °F). The average maximum temperature in the warmest months of July and August is about 27 °C (81 °F). Autumn generally starts sunny in September and becomes more cloudy and rainy towards October, while temperatures usually remain above 20 °C (68 °F) until November where days start to cool down to around 17 °C (63 °F). Winters are characterised by mild days (11 to 17 °C (52 to 63 °F)), cool nights (4 to 9 °C (39 to 48 °F)) and variable weather. Days can be either sunny and dry, or damp and rainy. Frost is unusual and snowfalls are so extremely rare that they are remembered by inhabitants as special events. Spring starts mild and rainy in late March, and is increasingly warm and sunny towards June.
French is the official language spoken in Nice. As a hugely popular international tourist destination you may well find that in many restaurants, bars and hotels English is spoken.
However if you decide to do some travelling into the surrounding, more rural villages, or happen upon a restaurant off the beaten track then it’s a good idea to brush up on your French! If you are driving through the area or through France to reach your destination then a few handy phrases to ask directions will be a good idea.
Health and security
- Each country’s health system is different and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access state provided healthcare in France at a reduced cost or sometimes free. It will cover you for treatment until you return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.
If you find yourself in a serious, life-threatening emergency, you should go to the accident and emergency (A&E) unit (les urgences) of the nearest hospital.
If you need an ambulance, dial 112 (or 114 hearing assisted). This is free of charge from any fixed or mobile phone.
In France, a doctor has to confirm that you are really in need of an ambulance service, otherwise you’ll have to carry the cost of the ambulance transport. Alternatively, you could use a light medical vehicle (véhicule sanitaire léger – VSL) to get to hospital.
- Overall Nice is a safe city, and France generally has a relatively low rate of violent crime, but as with most large cities some neighborhoods merit extra caution when visiting especially after dark. Overall crime in France has fallen in recent years, but visitors should be careful when on the move.
The most common types of crimes are pickpockets who operate on public transport at times when it is very crowded, which is frequently, while a rising threat is that in which thieves on motorcycles reach into a stopped car by opening the car door or reaching through an open window to steal purses and other bags visible inside This has also been used against pedestrians walking with purses, bags or cameras slung over their street-side shoulder.
As for personal safety on public transport, you should be aware very late trains – approaching midnight – on the western side (Nice – Cannes – St Raphael – Marseilles) do not have a good reputation. Many stations are not staffed and trains run largely empty, so lone travellers may prefer to avoid late travel on these routes if possible.
Additionally, if you’re using a rental car make sure to lock the doors while visiting tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations and airports. There is more advice regarding car rental in this guide, but be aware that there have recently been cases of “homejacking” – where thieves break into villas and, finding the car keys left on display, steal the rental car as well. Because the car was not “taken by force”, renters have found themselves not covered by rental insurance and liable for the whole replacement value of the car.
Emergency numbers are, for fire/rescue (18), police (17), and medical emergencies (15). If you have any concerns it may be a good idea to programme them into your mobile phone before arrival There is also a European Union-wide emergency number, 112, that will connect you with an operator who speaks both English and the language of the country you are in.
- do visit Nice, but do not drive there!! The Riviera has excellent and inexpensive day time bus services between all towns for only 1.50 euro per journey (new rate since June 2013), and in case of wanting travel after dark, the coastal train service between Cannes – Nice – Monaco and Menton runs until around midnight. It should be especially noted that in Nice most buses stop running at 8 pm. There are a very small number of late night buses (Noctambus) at weekends, however very infrequent and it is not recommended to wait alone at bus stops late at night, which can attract unwelcome attention from passing motorists. If planning a late evening or night plan to take a taxi or walk.
- Use ATM inside banks, avoid free standing ones, Look around and be aware of the surroundings.
- The beaches in Nice might be pebbly, but select hotels certainly make up for it with the comfort and luxury they offer, including lockers, hessian carpets leading to the sea to protect swimmer’s bare feet from the scorching stones, waiter service, dining at the water’s edge, and watersports.
- Nice has a whole host of charming churches to visit: Cathédrale Saint Nicolas is one of the most striking examples of Russian Orthodox architecture outside Russia; Chapelle de la Miséricorde is considered on of the finest example of Boroque religious architecture in France; L’Eglise de l’Annonciation is a gem of gilded Boroque miniaturism; the atmospheric villa Prieuré du Vieux Logis is home to a collection of artworks spanning the 14th to 17th centuries; while the 18th century Cathédrale de Sainte Réparate provides a treat for musicologists in the shape of its three organs./li>