FRANCE, TRAVEL

Is Nice France safe to visit? Dispelling myths

is-nice-france-safe-to-visit

It’s “A Sunny Place for Shady People”

You might have heard the phrase, the Cote d’Azur is a, “Sunny place for shady people.” It was coined by British author, playwright and scandal-maker himself, W. Somerset Maugham, who owned a villa here for nearly 40 years. If you’re wondering if Nice France is safe to visit, I’m here to tell you it’s not safe, and the Cote d’Azur is a dangerous place to visit.  I’m also going to dispel a few myths.

You might be interested in What to do with a Weekend in Nice

Read my 14 Reasons I love Living in Nice France Pros and Cons for more information about what make me happy and really ticks me off! 

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on something and make a purchase we may make a small commission at no extra charge to you. Also, as an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please see our Disclosure Statement about all our affiliations.

Scandals of the Cote d’Azur

The Cote d’Azur has long been rumored as a hideout for the rich and famous, the corrupt and scandalous. And it is…

Well-to-do British, American and Russian aristocrats littered this region for decades with well-known scandals, indiscretions and litigious situations.

Even Maugham himself was sued by some woman’s husband for breaking up their marriage.  The reputation of this area has been tainted for years! But that all leads to its allure, no?

Below is a great book written by a friend of mine in Nice about the Cote d’Azur. Dangerous Pity – such a fitting name.

 

W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham – scandal maker himself

The Casinos are rigged!

Back in the day, there were vicious feuds between the casino owners of Nice and Monaco vying for clients. They’d go to great lengths to smear the names of one another. The Nicois are said to have planted dead bodies in random places around Monaco – very Mafia-esque. Then, the newspapers would claim these poor, dead souls killed themselves because they lost all their money in the Monaco Casinos! That meant you had better chances of winning in Nice! Whoa…. nasty! Meanwhile, none of it was true. But at one point, Nice was winning in tainting Monaco’s casino reputation.

Monte Carlo Casino

Casinos are in business for making money, not to make you rich.

Every time someone visits who’s never been here before, I take them to try out a few machines at the Cafe de Paris in Monaco. It’s a great way to spend an hour. One time, my friend and I decided to play $20 maximum. I happily hopped on a, ‘Sex and the City’-themed machine and won $60. My friend won $90 and then we blew it on a great brunch with wine at the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco. Not all lost. And not nice at all. Always set your limit and have a great time.

Check out my Travel Resources page here for what I use to book hotels and travel.

The cuisine in Nice is not French

Well, no wonder, when you consider much of the Cote d’Azur used to belong to Italy! In Nice, you will come across a multitude of excellent restaurants that are not French. Nope! You’ll be pigging out on everything! You find many Italian, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese, Lebanese, and Sushi restaurants, and many other cuisines to keep your taste buds entertained. Nice is not safe on your waistline!

Traditional cheese and grapes
We do eat lots of different cheese, though.

Nice was part of Italy until 1860, so there is a lot of Italian influence in Nicoise dishes. Here you’ll find local specialties such as Pissaladiere, which is a baked onion tart; Socca, which is a pancake of chickpea flour; Daube, which is like beef stew over pasta; Ratatouille, which is slow cooked vegetables; Salades Nicoise, and Merda de Can, which translates to Dog Shit. Yes, you read that right. The Nicoise make a dish of gnocchi using green leaves of blette (like spinach) that they form into oblong dog turds. They then put a cream sauce over them. Seriously, would you order dog shit off the menu? You’ll gain a ton of pounds by sampling all the local treats that you think won’t amount to many calories. Very dangerous!

Baked Camembert
Baked Camember with prosciutto, garlic bread and fries. Yum

Any way, Nice is a melting pot nowadays of different cultures and flavors. If you want traditional French food, head up north.

The hotels in Nice are quite expensive

Particularly if you stay on the Promenade des Anglais that faces the stunning Mediterranean Sea. The same goes if you come in high season. BUT, your wallet is safe on the Cote d’Azur if you book your travels from late September to the end of April. Then you’ll find the best deals on otherwise unaffordable hotels. The weather in late fall and early spring will be pleasant and sunny. You can enjoy the city with fewer tourists. We locals love this time of year because we can easily get into our favorite restaurants without making reservations and the staff are more relaxed. We have our town back.

Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee

New Years, Carnival and Easter timeframes will still be busy times, but if you book well in advance, you’ll still find good deals versus waiting last minute. And there are a variety of good options the more you move away from the Mediterranean and into town. There are reasonably-priced 3*Hotels that won’t break the bank any time of year. You can also find a variety of Airbnb options allowing you to experience the charm of living in Nice like a local. But it will be dangerous if you don’t plan ahead to get the best deals to visit Nice and the Cote d’Azur.

Meridien Hotel La-Terrassee-Rooftop-Lounge
©Le Meridien Hotel

You’ll waste money buying things and experiences you don’t need

The Cote d’Azur boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year, and the ambiance is known for being stylishly chic. Before you know it, you will be investing in a few more pair of must-have, large-framed sunglasses, a wide-brimmed sun hat, fancy-jeweled sandals, a French market basket, Hermes-inspired swimsuit cover-ups, and sundresses appropriate for St. Tropez. And you’ll spend money on once-in-a-life-time experiences! You’ll come home with a new summer wardrobe, and broke! Nice is so unsafe! Really annoying! And very dangerous on your wallet.

Paragliding in Nice
Is Nice France safe on your wallet? While fun, that will cost you $80 a pop!

The Cote d’Azur is flooded with Gold Diggers

I wish this one wasn’t true, but it is. But you’ll be happy to know being a gold digger isn’t gender-specific! It goes both ways, and you don’t need to be wealthy. There are plenty of opportunistic people here. In my opinion, there’s a huge misconception that everyone on the Cote d’Azur is wealthy.

People come here thinking the streets are paved in gold and there are plenty of high-paying jobs. The fact is, there are a lot of people and companies willing to take advantage of you if you don’t pay attention. Restaurants will happily screw their employees by making them work a shit-load of extra hours and not pay them overtime. This will reflect on their service to you. Then, there’s the waiter/ess who ‘forgets’ to bring back the rest of your change when you pay the bill. Note: Waiters/esses don’t rely on tips for a living, so they don’t care if they provide you good service or not. They make a standard wage.

Even the electric company will blatantly gouge you because you won’t allow them to switch your meter for one of their smart meters if you don’t want one.

Some of these books might come in handy.

 

Everyone on the Cote d’Azur is wealthy…

Maybe in Monaco, Cannes and St Tropez! To dispel the myth, the general salary on the Cote D’Azur is quite low compared to other parts of France. By quite low, I mean $1500-$1800 in your pocket per month! That’s $21,600 per year, on the Cote d’Azur! That’s not a huge salary, but people manage to get by, just…

These are general salaries that equate to about $10/hour, or the minimum wage. You can try and negotiate a higher salary, but with so many seasonal people floating in and out, the boss will surely find someone willing to work long hours for shitty benefits. Then consider they pay around $550-600 for a bed in a shared apartment, plus meals, phone, going out. It doesn’t leave much left at the end of the month.

If there’s a way you can ‘supplement’ your salary by sponging off someone else, they will. I’ve met women taking care of ‘boy-toys’ only to discover that when they turned off the money spigot, so was he and he was gone…And the same for women… I know women who are/were ‘call girls.’ Their apartments were paid for, and a living stipend was provided for, by some rich dude simply wanting a spread available when he was in town – meanwhile the wife’s at home.

Yes, I know this happens all over, but the towns along the Cote are quite small with Nice being the largest at 340,000, and people talk. You hear a lot about people, whether you want to or not.

That said, for tourists coming to visit Nice and the Cote d’Azur, you’re here on vacation and the prices can be quite reasonable. You’re unlikely to run into these types unless you are here for awhile.

You’ll find a wealthy eligible bachelor here

Sure, but he might be 80 years old…. The ratio of women to men is high, so ladies, pay attention to your man, because if not, there are 50 other available women who will. Again, the reality that you’ll find a rich guy to take care of you in these parts is highly unlikely, unless you are a hooker! … Beware…

All the souvenirs in Nice are overpriced.

Touristy, souvenir shops are rife and overpriced in Nice.  You don’t want to go there, so I’ll let you in on where to head for quality gifts to take back home.

First, start at the olive oil king in Nice, Nicholas Alziari, which began in 1868 in Nice itself. You’ll find the ‘Gran Cru’ of infused olive oils and vinegars crafted using the same techniques you’ll find in producing quality champagnes, wines, coffee and chocolates. Here you’ll find a variety of original oil and vinegar infusions along with spices, jams, fois gras, seafood products, honeys, ceramics, olive wood and even cosmetics. The authentic flavors of Provence couldn’t be easier to find than there. You can even take a free tour with tastings at the original mill on Boulevard de la Madeleine. 14, rue St François de Paule.

Moulin a Huile a Olive Alziari

Even if you forgot to pick up some Alzieri Olive oil in Nice or at the duty free shop, you can still get some sent home. Check these out. I love their olive oils.

        

Across the pedestrian street from Nicholas Alziari you’ll find A L’Olivier (7 Rue Saint-Francois de Paule). Again, you’ll find traditional and infused olive oils, vinegars, olives, tapenades, basil pesto, honeys and flower confits. They have all sorts of lovely small gift packs that will easily fit in your suitcase. The company first started in 1822 in the Marais section of Paris, and Nice is its Mediterranean anchor.

A l'Olivier store in Old Town Nice
A l’Olivier store in Old Town Nice. Lots of quality oils and vinegars

Local gifts from Nice are great souvenirs

For unique hand-made jewelry you’ll find no where else in the world, head to StatuQuo at 14 Rue Delille, just on the other side of the Theatre National de Nice.

Since 1984, this family-run business has been making all their stylish jewelry in their studio onsite. You’ll find reasonably-priced necklaces, earrings, bracelets and unique items for the home in silver and gold with precious stones, glass, enamel and pewter. This is my go-to place for excellent jewelry gifts for my friends. This is a safe place in Nice for finding local-made jewelry.

If spices, teas, salts and peppercorns are your thing, find your way to Girofle et Cannelle. This shop, located at 4 Rue Pairolere in Old Town, started by importing salt pearls from Djibouti. Owned by Ciro Forte, whose family have been in the spice business for more than 50 years, you’ll now find salts from Persia, the Himalayas and Hawaii, along with spice mélanges ready for meats, fish, seafood vegetables, and sauces. Easy to pack in your suitcase.

Salt displays Girofle et Cannelle Nice
Lovely assortments of salts, spices and teas here.

The drinks are expensive in Nice

But only if you head to the wrong place! The safest place in Nice for the best Happy Hour prices are in Place Garibaldi. You’ll typically pay $2.25 for a glass of excellent Provence wine, or $5.50 for a pint of beer. Our standard stomping grounds are Giuseppe’s, Cafe de la Place, and Campo Cafe. You can also go to Pane et Olio for an Italian Happy Hour, which offers a drink for $7 and you get all-you-can-eat appetizers of bruschetta, pasta and pizza nibbles. Otherwise, you can have a $14 glass of the same wine on the promenade, if you like paying for the view.

Transport sucks in Nice…

When we are having a strike, which isn’t often. You can ride the bus or tram in Nice for $1.85 per ride, but if you go to any tram stop or Ligne d’Azur office, you can buy a ’10-ride’ ticket for $12.50 saving you around $6. Not too bad.

There is also a scenic train line that hugs the Cote d’Azur coast. You’ll get breathtaking views of the landscape and Mediterranean, and it will cost you a mere $8 for a 40-minute ride from Nice to Italy. You can easily do a day trip from Nice to Italy with this quick line.

Tram Line 1 at Place Massena
The Nice tram line. A new line going from the Nice Airport to the Port will operate in 2020.

Taxi transport does suck. The taxis in Nice are a joke, and a 10-minute ride from the airport to central Nice, which is 3 miles will cost you nearly $50. There will be a new tramway in 2020 that goes from both airport terminals to Nice Port. This will cost you less than $2 and I for one will be happy to see this service come into business.

Is Nice France Safe to Visit?

Generally, yes, Nice France is safe to visit. We were hit with a shitty situation a few years ago, and then there was the recent fire at Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris. The city of Nice has done lots by way of blocking off pedestrian areas to car traffic, and they’ve stepped up their security presence at every major event in town. It’s quite annoying, but if it makes people feel better, then fine. You’ll need to open your bag to some random security guy at most security check points, or you go through security gates. If you keep your wits about you, you will have no problem and you’ll find Nice, France is a very safe place for a lovely vacation.

While this has been somewhat tongue-in-cheek toward the Cote d’Azur, there are so many alluring qualities about this little sunny piece of paradise. You should absolutely visit Nice and the Cote d’Azur.

Is Nice Safe to visit Pin

2 Comments
Share

Life On The Mediterranean

US expat living the life on the Mediterranean in the South of France. I regularly travel to Spain, Italy, Greece and other intriguing locations around the Mediterranean. Former Hyatt Corp Marketing Manager, student accommodation director and hotel photoshoot art director.

2 Comments

  1. Jean-Marc St. Pierre
    May 25, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you for a 2019 account of Nice , France. My son and I are travelling to the Cote D’Azur region after our stay in Paris. I haven’t been to Nice since 1986 so your thoughts are much appreciated.

    Regards,
    J. Marc St. Pierre

    • Anonymous
      May 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm

      Hi Jean Marc, Thanks for your comment. How long are you going to be in Nice for and when are you coming? I lot has changed since ’86. A lot has changed in the 10 years that I’m here. Will be interesting to hear you thoughts once you’ve been here. You might be interested in what to do with a Weekend in Nice, which you can use for anytime. Or if you have time, you might want to scoot over to Italy for a Day trip. Any rate, keep me posted. Would love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line and I’ll meet you guys for coffee.

Reply your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.