Nice is trendy, cosmopolitan, chic and full of money. As it is situated beside the sea you can just picture the type of people who stay here. You’ve got it – flash and with cash. Now, backpackers aren’t known for frequenting the world’s most exclusive resorts, but with the right clothes and attitude, nobody will know you’re a budget traveller!
About Nice, France
Capital of the French Riviera, Nice is the fifth largest city in France. Due to its location on the south coast, it is a haven for sun worshippers. It attracts a lot of the country’s elite, as well as others from across the globe.
France’s beautiful people swarm around the city, and particularly the beaches, every year. Its situation on the Bay of Angels (Baie de Anges) makes it the perfect destination for some relaxing. Even though the area does attract a select amount of French holidaymakers, it doesn’t stop backpackers enjoying the city also.
Along with its style and charm, Nice is also steeped in history and is one of France’s oldest cities. Accounts say its name dates back as far as 350BC. Since its first visitors, the city has grown to be a very multi-racial city over the years, with foreigners arriving from all destinations.
The most important thing with Nice is not to allow the area’s wealth intimidate you or put you off visiting. While there is a lot of it around, and even though you may be on the tightest of budgets, you will still be able to enjoy your stay here to maximum effect.
Eating Out in Nice, France
Due to its location on the French Riviera, and also because of the tourists Nice attracts, there are many high class eateries. Thankfully for backpackers, it isn’t as expensive as its neighbouring settlements of Monaco and Cannes. This gives you the option of eating out if you previously thought that you could be eating in for the duration of your stay.
Good restaurants can be found all over the city. Promenade de Anglais is full of restaurants and cafés to choose from, although they can be pricey. For the best selection, covering all price ranges, go to Vieux Nice.
Naturally there are many restaurants in the city serving national cuisine. These range from top class restaurants which would cause most backpackers to go over their budget, to those with more reasonably priced menus. Italian food is also prominent on most Naçois menus.
If you feel you don’t want to go to the hassle or expenditure of eating out, you can always eat in (if you feel like cooking of course!). The market at cours Saleya has a good selection of fresh vegetables. Supermarkets in the area will be able to provide all the necessary ingredients for your mouth-watering meals!
The Healthier Option
Want to stay as trim as most of the bodies adorning the famed Côte d’Azur? Then you’re better off steering clear of Nice’s pizzerias and boulangeries and heading to this colourful fruit market where you can pick up all types of fruits and vegetables. If your will power gives in though, you can pick up baguettes too. Open Tues-Sun from 7am-7pm.
Restaurants in Nice
Nicca Socca, 5 rue Ste-Reparate, Nice, France
This is a very popular and well-known restaurant which serves great food and is excellent value also. Try their oven baked pizzas.
Open 12pm-2pm and 7pm-11pm Mon-Sat.
17 rue Gubernatis, Nice, France
Serving Niçoise cuisine, this family-run restaurant has a warm atmosphere and sits approximately 40 people. There is a choice of pasta dishes also.
3 place Garibaldi, Nice, France
Since opening in 1989 this French resturant has built up a good reputation due to its quality food and value for money. Good choice of Sicilian meals also.
10 rue Chauvain, Nice, France
The menu in this restaurant has everything from chop suey to pasta. Some of the dishes can be a bit pricy so if you are on a tight budget the pizza is always a safe option.
4 bis quai Papacino, Nice, France
For all those who are vegetarian, this is the restaurant for you. Even if you do enjoy your meat you will find the menu very appetising.
1 cours Saleya, Nice, France
A relaxed atmosphere in La Safari ensures your meal will be fully enjoyed. The menu consists of both local recipes and those from the province also.
4 rue Terrasse, Nice, France
This bistro has an interesting menu full with both mouth-watering dishes and more unusual ones also. One of its specialities is lamb which is cooked until it falls off the bone.
1 rue Maurice Jaubert, Nice, France
Albert’s Bar has one of Nice’s more varied menus and is sure to cater for everybody’s taste. Only completely fresh produce is stocked in Albert’s as, apparently, there are no freezers anywhere on the premises.
10 rue du Collet, Vieux Nice, Nice, France
Come here if you want to sample Niçoise food without paying too much money. This restaurant is usually very busy so come early if you are eating in the evening.
37 promenade des Anglais, Nice, France
Serving some of Nice’s most inventive dishes, the chances are you might not make it to this restaurant – it is the city’s most exclusive. But if it is the last day of your journey and you have a lot of money to burn, what better way to do it with a top-class meal.
1, Place du Jésus, Nice, France
With its plentiful outdoor seating, friendly staff, and menu full of main courses costing under €10, it will come as no surprise that locating a seat in this restaurant can prove to be very challenging. It also enjoys a privileged location under Eglise du Gesú, one of the Old Town’s numerous churches.
Open Mon-Sat 7pm-11.30pm.
Transport in Nice, France
By air: Aéroport Nice-Côte d’Azur serves both domestic and international flights.
By train: Trains leaving far off destinations such as Paris as well as those which are closer such as Cannes arrive at Gare Nice-Ville. The other train station in Nice is Gare du Sud where smaller trains arrive.
By ferry: If you are travelling to Nice from Corsica you can get one of the regular ferries which sail from the island.
By bus: Unless you plan on getting taxis, buses are the other main form of public transport in Nice. They operate all over the city from early in the morning until midnight.
Bus route #23 runs between the airport and the city centre every 20-30 minutes.
Things To See in Nice, France
When you think of the French Riviera you think of sun, sea and sand. The beaches are where most of Nice’s tourists head straight for. If you are a sun worshipper then this will suit you down to the ground. Naturally, there is more to do in France’s fifth largest city than just laze in the sun.
The first person to settle in Nice did so 400,000 years ago. Since then many people and cultures have passed through. Some of these were artists meaning, along with the city’s history to gain knowledge of, you can also visit museums showcasing these local residents’ work.
Promenade de Anglais, which is a spectacle to be seen in itself, should definitely be visited as there are many places of interest along its stretch. Some of the city’s most exclusive restaurants can be found here. Another spot which attracts many visitors is the graveyard at north end of the 4-mile promenade.
If you are looking to see ‘old Nice’, where the real Niçoise people live, make your way to Vielle Ville which is the city’s old town. The area is a maze of narrow streets and walking through the area shows you there is more to the city than beautiful people and money.
Innovative Works of Art
Housed in an imposing building on the outskirts of the city and home to collections by Yves Klein and Andy Warhol, Nice’s modern art museum is a must for those with a passion for New Realism and Pop Art. This enthralling museum has 4 floors – 2 with permanent exhibitions and 2 with temporary ones. Open Tues-Sun from 10am-6pm; guided visits €5.
Attractions in Nice
Central Nice, Nice, France
Nice’s most beautiful square is also it’s most famous. Water fountains, gardens, old buildings and its central location make it one of the attractions you are almost certain to visit.
33 Av. Baumettes, Nice, France
This museum houses an impressive collection of artwork from 19th and 20th Century French artists. Both paintings and sculptures on show.
Open Tues-Sun 11am-5pm. Admission free.
Av. Nicolas-II, Off Bd. du Tzaréwitch, Nice, France
Considered as the Orthodoxy’s most impressive building outside Russia, this cathedral was designed on the Saint-Baslie in Moscow.
Place Guynemer, Nice, France
Made entirely from white stone, Monument aux Morts is a shrine to the dead. If you look close enough you can see a total of 3655 names. One feature of the monument includes a huge urn.
East Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France
This popular hillside park in the promenade area provides a very pleasant alternative when the crowds in the city are becoming too much. But don’t expect to find a château – it was knocked down in the 8th century.
Route du Fort du mont Alban, Nice, France
While this 16th century fort built on top of a hill is fascinating in itself, the view of Nice and the surrounding area is possibly the best you will find. Not only have you got a view of the city, but you can also see out into the sea and the Lower Alps also.
, Nice, France
Originating as a simple path, this became a promenade after an English man called Lewis May did a ‘whip-around’ with some of his fellow Englishmen and raised enough money to make it two metres wide. Now it is where you will find the city’s top restaurants along with those trying to keep fit by either rollerblading or running.
Place Ile-de-Beauté, Nice, France
If you want to see what rich people do with their money go for a stroll down to Nice’s harbour. Here you will find hundreds of dream yachts and no doubt you will be tempted to embark for a cruise.
Place du Monastère, Nice, France
With a handmade altar among some of the artefacts inside inside, this convent is an interesting place to spend a few hours.
Port de Nice, Nice, France
Siutated on one end of Nice’s harbour, this is another good place to go to when you want to relax.
Entertainment in Nice, France
When you look at the French Riviera and look at some of the towns and cities on it such as Monte Carlo, Marseille and St. Tropez you know that any of the towns or cities are home to a lively nightlife. Nice is no different. Go on a night out in this city and it won’t be forgotten for a while.
Along the Promenade de Anglais is where you will find many of the city’s best clubs along with the casino which always guarantees a memorable night, as well an expensive one (if you don’t win anything, of course). It is also the perfect place to go to enjoy some nocturnal activities without spending a cent as there are always street performers there at night. Other areas which are home to many different pubs and clubs are Masséna and Vieux Nice.
As you would expect in such a lively city there is a pub to suit everyone’s taste, particularly in the Vieux Nice and Masséna areas. Whether its dance music, rock or maybe jazz which you favour, explore the streets around these areas and you won’t be looking long.
Nice has two particular events which stand out on the social calendar – the annual Nice Jazz Festival (last week in July) and the city’s carnival which takes place every February. For the best guides to what is happening keep an eye out for l’Exés which is a free brochure found in most tourist offices. Another publication which is good for weekly listings is La Semaine des Spectacles.
Entertainments in Nice
1, rue Mascoïnat, Nice, France
After a couple of nights out in Nice you’ll begin to notice it gets surprisingly timid after 2am. Thankfully, Blue Whales keeps things ticking in the Old Town until 4.30am. It attracts a slightly grungy crowd due to its blend of live bands and rock music. Between 6pm and 9pm is happy hour.
Open daily from 6pm-4.30am.
26, quai Lunel, Nice, France
This club gives visitors a warm atmosphere the minute they walk in the door. The music played varies from jazz to funk and soul. And to make things even better the price of drink is refreshingly reasonable.
11, rue de la Préfecture, Vieux Nice, Nice, France
If you want to enjoy a few pints of beer while keeping in touch with your friends on email this is your sort of pub. Along with a wide variety of beers and whiskeys there is an internet cafe also in this Scottish themed pub.
64, rue Gioffrédo, Nice, France
The decor alone will keep you occupied in this pub. With a great atmosphere also, all spread out over two floors, try and pay a visit if you are visiting Nice.
5, rue St-Vincent, Nice, France
This is one of Nice’s best kept secrets. You may find yourself looking a bit longer for this bar than expected, but the shows and concerts they house are worth it. The best way to visit this bar is to buy a meal/show combination.
4, rue Mascoïnat, Vieux Nice, Nice, France
A lively pub with live music playing regularly and cheap beer. Hence, definitely worth a visit.
6, rue de la Tour, Nice, France
The staff in this nightclub make sure to fee you priviliged as, along with your drink at the bar, you are presented with a handful of sweets also. As the name suggests, it is the priviliged who usually go there so don’t wear your scruffy jeans. Plus try not to looked too shocked when hearing the price of your drink.
18, rue des Congrès, Nice, France
L’Ambassade has a crowd coming from all different backgrounds and different ages. Inside are two bars and one dance floor.
11 rue Alexandre Mari, Nice, France
This is considered as Nice’s most exclusive club, but then again most are. If you are a girl you will get in free before 1am.
67 quai des Etats-Unis, Nice, France
If you are planning on dancing the night away, Disco Butterfly will suit you as it is always pumping out the latest house, garage and techno tunes. One of the newest clubs in Nice.
4 rue St-François-de-Paule, Nice, France
If you want to experience a bit more culture Nice’s Opera House is a good place to begin. Many well-known operas and plays have featured there. If you do plan on going check local listings to see whats on.
15, rue de la Préfecture, Nice, France
Attracting backpackers from all across the globe, Wayne’s is the craziest bar in Nice and a night here isn’t to be missed. There’s something different going on every night – Sunday is live karaoke night, Monday is ‘Bingo Monday’ while Thursday is ‘Lady’s Night’. Lots of dancing on the tables also.
Open daily from 12 noon-1am.
General Info about Nice, France
All that Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, US and EU nationals require to enter France is a passport which is valid for at least three months beyond the date on which they are due to enter the country.
For all non EU-citizens who intend staying in the country for a period of longer than ninety days, a visa is necessary. Furthermore, all visitors to the country who intend to stay for longer than three months, including EU citizens, need to apply for a residence permit (carte de séjour) within sixty days of their arrival in the country. This can be carried out at the local prefecture, mairie or commissariat.
South African nationals will require a visa to visit the country and residents from any countries not mentioned here or those intending to work or study in France should contact the French Embassy in their home country before travelling.
To ensure you know the full details for entry requirements it is advised that you contact your nearest French embassy.
The currency used in France is the Euro (€) which is made up of 100 Cent. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.
Language The official language in France is French. You will find many people in Nice speak English, particularly around some of the touristy areas.
Nice enjoys very warm summers with temperatures going above 100F during the hottest months. If you enjoy warm weather, the best months to travel there are between May and October.
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement, as are visitors from Scandinavian countries. EU natives need to collect an E111 form from therir local social security office. This form may also be obtained in post offices also. Travellers from non-EU countries are obliged to pay for any medical treatment required during their stay.
You shouldn’t have a problem finding a chemist in Nice. If you do, take down the following address:
5, rue Masséna
Nice is one hour ahead of GMT and 6 ahead of EST.
Clothes shops’ opening hours are generally 10am-7pm Monday-Saturday. Office hours are usually between 9am-5pm from Monday to Friday.
The main tourist office in Nice, where you will get lots of information and leaflets, is on Av. Thiers.
As an EU member, France imposes VAT (TVA in French) on most goods and services. The standard for clothing, appliances, alcohol, perfumes etc is 19.6%. For non-EU residents, however, the good news is that you can get the tax back on any item for which you pay over €180.
In order to avail of this incentive, you need to obtain a Europe Tax-Free Shopping Cheque when you purchase the item. When you are leaving the country, you present both the item and the cheque at customs, the officials will stamp it for you and you can then cash your cheque at any of the booths with the Tax-Free logo and Cash Refund sign. This is only applicable where you are leaving the country within three months.
When in France you can exchange foreign cash in any branch of any bank. They open from 9.00am until 12.00pm and again from 2.00pm to 4.00pm from Monday to Friday but many major branches also open their exchange facilities from 9.00am until 12.00pm on Saturdays. Banks generally offer the best rates so try to exchange your cash in the bigger banks such as Crédit Lyonnais where the least commission is charged.
All major credit cards are accepted in the bigger hotels, restaurants and shops but in smaller businesses or the more remote areas you may have difficulty using this facility. You can also use bankcards which are members of the bigger international networks such as Plus or Cirrus in the larger towns and cities where the ATM states that they are acceptable.
In Nice the best places to change money is either in the Cambio at 17 av. Thiers (across from the train station) and also at Change, 10 av. Felix Faure. American Express has an office at 11 Promenade des Anglais
France uses the European standard of 230V/50Hz
The international country code for France is 33 so if you are calling from abroad you need to dial the county’s international calling code followed by 33, the local area code without the first 0 and the local number. The same instructions apply when you are making an international call from within the country replacing 33 with the country’s area code. You should also note that the international access code for France is 00.
Pay phones can be found in most public places including post offices, bus and train stations, shopping centres and in the street in towns and villages throughout the country. Most are card phones which you can buy from post offices, tobacconists and railway stations. They come in denominations of fifty units which will cost you 40F or one hundred and twenty units which costs 100F. You can also use your credit card in most public telephones.
Nice’s main post office is at 23 av. Thiers.
By law a service charge must be included in all restaurants, café and bar bills in France. If you feel that the service merits a further tip an amount between 5% and 10% is sufficient. In bars or cafés one or two euro is the norm. Taxi drivers are usually given a tip of between 10% and 15%.
In France public holidays are New Years Day (Jan 1st), Easter (March/April), Labour Day (May1st), 1948 Victory Day (May 8th), Ascension Day (May 29th), Whit Monday (second Monday in June), Bastille Day (July 14th), Assumption Day (August 15th), All Saints Day (November 1st), Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Christmas Day (December 25th).
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to Nice/France as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.