Living in Nice France, the Pros and Cons. Nice, France has been a ‘sometimes’ home for me for over 10 years now, while I was living in London. I used to fly down a couple times a month and enjoy my cute apartment in Old Town, just a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean Sea. Ok, it’s literally a 4-minute walk to the beach at the pace I go.
Nice is now my primary home and I have a different perspective. Like any place, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly of this Mediterranean travel destination. I know lots of folks who would love living in Nice France, so I put together 14 reasons why I love living in Nice, and 4 reasons that I don’t.
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14 Reasons I love Living in Nice France – Pros
- 1 14 Reasons I love Living in Nice France – Pros
- 1.1 1. The Weather in Nice
- 1.2 2. Living in Nice France makes you appreciate history
- 1.3 3. Location of Nice on the Mediterranean Sea and Bay of Angels
- 1.4 4. The Fresh Food Markets in Nice
- 1.5 5. The Local Festivals in Nice and around the Cote d’Azur
- 1.6 6. The Art Scene in Nice and the Cote d’Azur
- 1.7 7. The Healthcare
- 1.8 8. The Transport system – International Airport/trains/buses
- 1.9 9. The Staggering Beauty of the Cote D’Azur
- 1.10 10. Music Scene
- 1.11 11. Ability to Speak Italian and Improve my French
- 1.12 12. Living in Old Town Nice, everything is on my doorstep
- 1.13 13. Living in Nice France is practically living in Italy – Proximity to Italy
- 1.14 14. Living in Nice France you are so Close to the Mountains
- 2 4 Reasons I Don’t Love Living in Nice France – Cons
1. The Weather in Nice
Nice boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, and the bright sunny days are synonymous with the Cote d’Azur, in general.
I was suffering from a severe lack of sunshine in London, to the point I bought a place in Southern Italy. Fortunately, I pulled out of that purchase and found a place in Nice, instead.
Growing up in Wisconsin, we had cold winters, but at least we had sunny days! I need to see the sun and Nice gets plenty of sunshine.
Even when it’s chilly in Nice, but the sun is out, it’s a lovely place. The cafes turn on their heat lamps and there are wind blocks. You can still enjoy the lovely Nice cafe culture even when the weather is crisp.
2. Living in Nice France makes you appreciate history
I love the history of Europe, in general. Who doesn’t? And living in Nice makes you appreciate it even more. Nice was tossed back and forth between Italy and France which adds to the intrigue of this area. It was a part of Italy until 1860; then it became part of France.
It’s cool to hear the older folks in my neighborhood still speak a dialect that is a mix of French and Italian, and the street signs are in French and Nicois, which looks Italian.
My hometown in Wisconsin had a few beautiful, historical homes, but that doesn’t compare to the wall off my back bedroom which is around 400 years old! That just blows my mind… There’s an old convent behind me, and to know that my building was built onto that 100 years later, is just surreal.
The architecture of these buildings is amazing. They are still standing, and it’s a shame that structures today aren’t built to this same standard. Things today are quick build, crappy quality, and replace them in 20 years. That’s also part of the reason I stopped being a student housing developer in London. My conscience wasn’t clear helping to create these cookie-cutter, here today-gone tomorrow structures that are a waste of resources, just for profit.
Archeological Digs in Nice
I love walking up to the area in Nice called, Castle Hill. It’s quite amazing. Castle Hill is where the origins of Nice began. There are fortress walls and ruins you can still see today. There’s a Christian and a Jewish Cemetery up there as well. It’s the roots of Nice.
A friend of mine was on an archeological dig a few years ago, where they were uncovering pieces of the old, original chapel. The main archeologists were doing the bigger digging and she was up there in her, ‘Indiana Jones’ hat and dirty neck scarf dusting off what they were uncovering. I seriously wanted to go up there and help them dig up everything! I find it all fascinating, and by doing that you are also a part of the history of what is uncovered.
You take history for granted when you don’t have it around you. My first trip to Italy left me awe struck in a gale wind of jaw-dropping monuments. Things I’d only seen in books. It left an impression on my life that lasts today.
3. Location of Nice on the Mediterranean Sea and Bay of Angels
The Mediterranean Sea needs little introduction. Not sure what it is about saying, “Mediterranean Sea,” but it smacks of luxury, beauty and desire. It just struck a chord with me.
The waters in Nice become the turquoise, milky blue. Not like the Caribbean, but there’s more contrast. Some days it’s staggeringly beautiful and the blue extends for quite some distance, and other days, after the rains, it’s completely yucky brown. That’s because the minerals and sediments from the mountains are slipping down to the Med.
Also, when I first started living in Nice, I didn’t realize it was called the Bay of Angels. Those who know me, know I’m a big believer in angels. It was a way I consoled myself after my sister’s death when I was 9. My parents told me she became an angel… I’m a big believer in fate and that may have been a reason that I ended up living in Nice France by the Bay of Angels.
4. The Fresh Food Markets in Nice
Living in Nice you have no excuse to not eat healthily.
Nice has a couple of good fresh vegetable markets. One is on the Cours Saleya in Old Town, which is parallel to the Promenade des Anglais. That market caters more to tourists because of its location, but they have good quality products, and there’s a fabulous flower market, too. I love looking at the skinny lemon trees with huge lemons hanging on them. I wonder how they don’t tip over. And you can usually get a cute bouquet of flowers for $5.
The second market, and better one in my opinion, is near the Liberation Tram stop. At the Liberation market you’ll find local vendors from France and Italy selling good quality fresh and organic products.
The best vendors in my opinion are on the right side as you go down Roassal Street, where you’ll find an Italian vendor at the end and a North African one next to them. Their prices are the best in the market and the quality is super.
There’s yet another still on the right side that has a lot of vegetables in bowls for $1.10. Some of the vegetables may look at bit manky, and some are perfectly fine.
5. The Local Festivals in Nice and around the Cote d’Azur
There are so many local festivals in Nice and along the Cote d’Azur. You simply need to check your calendar and go. Whether you are into Garlic, Onions, Honey, Organic items, the Nice Carnaval, the Menton Citrus Festival, there are so many local festivals where they celebrate their local fare and local traditions. I usually put annual reminders in my calendar so I follow up on which festivals are on and when.
Many of these are a way to connect with smaller towns to celebrate what they are known for. There’s always something going on.
6. The Art Scene in Nice and the Cote d’Azur
The art scene in the South of France is well known. This used to be the playground of Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Matisse and many other famous artists. There are numerous galleries where you can see their pieces. Go to St Paul de Vence for the day to see this artist village that is very much alive and kicking today. You can buy original pieces from famous artists and signed prints, and take a piece of history home with you.
Just one stop on the bus before St. Paul, you have the Fondation Maeght where you find one of the most important private collections of modern and contemporary art. They have interesting temporary installations throughout the year and the foundation is in a beautiful, woodsy setting with lovely, sculpted gardens.
7. The Healthcare
You may have heard that the healthcare in France is very good. It is! We are covered by a universal government system plan, which is frankly, quite sufficient. If you need to visit the doctor, it will cost you around $25 for a visit.
I took my mom to the emergency room 10 years ago and they charged her $25, plus we had to get some medicine which cost $16. I know these prices because my mom kept the receipts! She was so flabbergasted that a foreigner would receive treatment at such a cheap cost. She was interested in living in Nice with me simply for this fact.
Recently, we are asked to buy into a supplemental healthcare insurance, kind of like in the US. This will cover us for expenses on top of what the government will pay for standard services. This is more for specialists providers and it’s being required of foreigners. In France, it’s called a Mutuelle.
8. The Transport system – International Airport/trains/buses
Transport here is really reasonable, and usually reliable, except when there’s a strike. For the bus and tram, you simply buy a 10-ride ticket for $11 and you have 10 rides. And the bus will take you all the way to the Italian border, which is about a 2-hour ride! There are also buses that take you to other parts of Europe. The buses and tram are cheap and clean.
The Nice International Airport is just 4 miles from the center of Nice and accommodates about 1million passenger a month. There are more than 100 destinations to fly to from Nice, and sometimes there are 15 flights a day to London, which was really handy when I first came here. There are more seasonal flights in the summer to warmer destinations.
We also have a generally reliable train service. I love taking taking day trips from Nice to Italy on the train. There are the national French trains, and there’s a Thello Line that will take you from Nice to Milan. Train travel is pricier than any other transport in my opinion, but I love taking the train because it’s so relaxing for everyone involved.
9. The Staggering Beauty of the Cote D’Azur
Living in Nice and the Cote d’Azur is a feast for the eyes. This area, and the South of France in general, is so incredibly charming. I don’t know whether it’s the trees, the colors of the buildings, the color of the sea or what. But all wrapped up, it’s just so frickin’ beautiful.
The drive from Nice to Monaco and beyond that winds around the Mediterranean is just staggering. The mountains and the cliff-hugging homes are jaw-dropping. The views from Eze Village are just incredible. Wondering through the trees up on Castle Hill make you feel like you are miles away from anyone.
10. Music Scene
There are plenty of opportunities to see live music in Nice. You’ll find many restaurants with a small trio or duo performing. Plus there are numerous venues with live music – most notably are Kosma Club, Shapko Bar, Ma Nolan’s Irish Pubs, Akathor Pub, and the bar at the Negresco Hotel, to name a few.
One place to go for traditional jazz is Cave Romagnan on Rue d’Angleterre. It’s one of the oldest wine caves in Nice and on Saturday evening from 7-10pm, this tiny place is chock-full of people listening to traditional jazz and blues. There are usually more musicians than the space can hold, and getting a drink in there can be a challenge, because people belly up to the bar and stay there.
11. Ability to Speak Italian and Improve my French
Living in Nice, you can easily get by with English and Italian. But it’s great to know that I have 3 different ways to communicate to people.
I was worried I would lose my Italian living in Nice, but I have plenty of opportunities daily to use it. Plus it allows me to improve my French, which I really need to do.
My biggest challenge with the French language is using the telephone. For one, I don’t like the telephone, and if I do need to speak in French on the phone, it’s usually with some service provider – like the phone company or electric company. I need to see people’s lip when I speak and the phone is the worst for my language confidence.
12. Living in Old Town Nice, everything is on my doorstep
Since I live in Old Town Nice, which is a village within itself, I literally fall out my door to a coffee shop, bakeries, butchers, grocery stores and restaurants. Everything is on my doorstep. And Nice is a relatively safe place to live.
The tram and bus are around the corner. I walk 4 minutes to the beach. Two train stations are within 15 minutes from me. The hospital is a 20-minute tram ride away and the pharmacy is at the end of my street. The leafy Castle Hill is only a 20 minute walk up.
I seriously can’t complain about my location for convenience. I’ve thought about moving out of Old Town, but sometimes I can’t justify it. Plus it’s easy to see friends when they come to town. I’m only 10 minutes away from anything, really.
13. Living in Nice France is practically living in Italy – Proximity to Italy
I should really move this higher up because it truly is one of the main reasons I decided on living in Nice France.
I was originally looking for a place in Italy since I studied there in college and fell in love with Italy. But when I came to the Cote d’Azur I felt I could have the best of both worlds by living in Nice. I’m only 50 minutes from Italy by train, and I easily pop over for a day trip twice a month.
Originally the number of direct flights to London was a big consideration, and Nice has 10-15 direct flights a day. That meant I could easily fly down to Nice on a Friday evening and be back in the office on Monday morning.
I was also concerned that living in Italy would ruin my idyllic memories of my time there as a student. Studying abroad is one thing. I felt like I was on a year-long vacation when I spent a year in Italy in my 20s. Living there as an adult with bills and responsibilities would be a different story. I was worried that the bureaucracy in Italy would make me hate it, like I hate France, sometimes. Like the US.. same, same. Now I just dip in on occasion, get my Italian fix and then come back to Nice.
14. Living in Nice France you are so Close to the Mountains
Living in Nice will make you realize how much you love the mountains and outdoors.
While I don’t get up there often enough, the mountains and ski resorts are 1.5hrs from Nice by bus. It doesn’t matter if it’s the summer or winter, they are stunning to see and a great way to spend a day trip from Nice.
4 Reasons I Don’t Love Living in Nice France – Cons
1. Customer Service
Living in Nice don’t expect great customer service. It’s an oxymoron here. It doesn’t matter if you are at the post office, the bank, in a shop, at a restaurant or bar. There just appears to be no need for customer service.
It’s particularly unnerving in restaurants and bar where I’m used to servers going over the top to ensure they get a good tip. Not here.
Waiters make a standard wage and tips are called, ‘Pourboire’, or translated as, ‘to drink.’ Tips are so you can have something to drink at the end of your shift, not to pay your mortgage! Thus, they don’t give a shit if they get to your table or not.
And you can forget someone coming over to ask if your overcooked burger is just right. They don’t care. They’ll come back at the end of the meal to gather your plate. You need to flag them down like a New York taxi if you want something changed, or God forbid they forget to give you napkins or ketchup. If I were a waitress in this town, I’d make so much money… I’d be running rings around these people!
2. Utility Companies and Services
Don’t get me started. You can easily sign up for a cell phone in Nice. They’ll happily put you on a plan, take your details, your choice of automatic payment, but when you need to change something, you’re sent to an antiquated system of having to call the frickin’ phone company. See my comment about speaking French on the phone above. I just can’t do it. I will sooner cancel my phone contract and start with a new company than have to deal with trying to renegotiate my phone contract on the phone with someone I can’t see. Those morons in the shops are there to sell and there’s no after care.
The electric company continues to send me harassing letters every couple of months because I refuse to get one of their smart meters. I’m completely against it and they treat me like I’m a stupid foreigner who is unaware of my rights.
Then when you want to cancel something, it has to be done by registered mail, which you have to pay extra for. I swear the post office is in cahoots with these companies as they just feed off one another.
3. The Syndic (Condo Association)
We all pay into maintaining our buildings, unless you are fortunate enough to have a home. So we all have to pay in for the maintenance of the exterior facades and interior corridors, interior lighting, the electronic doorbell, the roof – bla, bla, bla. These fees go to the Syndic or condo association who manages the collective property. They are responsible for getting quotes, getting shit done, and holding an annual meeting to tell you how great they are. These Syndics are like old mafia families that have been manage a racket for centuries – because they have!
We recently had quotes to paint the facade of our building. Actually just the front face because we have no sides and they don’t care about the back because that faces a 400 year-old wall, and tourists don’t see that. All the quotes came in around $50,000. Correct… $50,000 to paint the frickin’ FRONT of our 4 story building… Clearly it does not cost $50,000 and I would love go out and do the bidding myself and see what I come up with. But I can tell you the Syndic is making a killing off of overcharging owners, and getting kickbacks from the suppliers. You can be sure of that.
4. The Noon Cannon
You hear it every day at noon, and every day it still scares the shit out of me.
The famous midday cannon in Nice has been a tradition since the time of Lord Coventry-More’s visits to Nice in the 1860s.
Story be told, Lord Coventry-More and his wife used to vacation in Nice away from Scotland’s cold weather. Well, the misses was too busy gossiping daily with the other British women that she’d forget to prepare lunch for her husband. He’d be waiting and waiting …for his lunch…
To fix the problem, he convinced the city to set off a cannon ever day at noon to remind her it was time to come home and make his lunch…. and we live with that misery every day. It’s fine if you live outside of Old Town because it’s not that loud. I swear they set that thing off from my roof top, and I will never get accustomed to the shock of that noise. It even made my mom drop her coffee cup once… She called it, ‘That Cursed Cannon.’ 🙂
Well there you have it. What are your thoughts about living in Nice? Would you give it a go, or a No!
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