Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour: Time in Nice is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in New York.(7 hours ahead of central time in Chicago, etc.)
When to Go
Nice has the advantage of an exceptional micro-climate. Although the city opens onto the sea, Nice is protected from the wind by the surrounding hills and the Estérel mountains to the west, and the north-western barrier of the Mercantour Alps. The sea breezes give a mild climate in winter and reduce the heat in the summer.
It is not unusual to lunch outdoors in the Cours Saleya in a T-shirt in February, while the rest of France is shivering in the cold
June and September are the best months to be in the region, as both are free of midsummer crowds and the weather is summer-balmy. June offers the advantage of long daylight hours, while lower prices and many warm days, often lasting well into October, make September attractive.
Try to avoid the second half of July and all of August, when almost all of France goes on vacation. Don’t travel on or around July 14 and August 1, 15, and 31, when every French family is either going on vacation or driving home. After All Saints (November 1), though most of the surrounding region closes down for winter, Nice thrives year-round.
New Year’s Day – 1st January
Easter – Monday April (date varies)
Labor Day – 1st Monday in May
Victory in Europe 1945 (VE Day) – May 8
Feast of the Ascension – Thursday in June (date varies)
Whitsun – early June (date varies)
Bastille Day – July 14
Assumption – August 15
All Saints Day – November 1
Armistice Day – November 11
Christmas – December 25
Bank hours vary from branch to branch, but are usually open weekdays, generally from 8:30 to 5. Most take a one-hour, or even a 90-minute, lunch break.
Gas stations on the auto routes are usually open 24 hours.
Museums & Sights
Museum hours are irregular with seasonal variations and a tendency to change often. Usual opening times are from 9:30 or 10 to 5 or 6, but many close for lunch (noon-2). Most museums are closed one day a week (Monday or Tuesday) and on national holidays. Check museum hours before you go.
Large stores are open from 9 or 9:30 until 7 or 8. Smaller shops often open earlier (8 AM) and close later (8 PM) but take a lengthy lunch break (1 to 4 or 4:30) in the south of France
Arriving in France
There are two levels of duty-free allowance for travelers entering France: one for goods obtained (tax paid) within another European Union (EU) country and one for goods obtained anywhere outside the EU or for goods purchased in a duty-free shop within the EU.
The electrical current in France is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC). French electrical outlets have two round holes (“female”) and a “male” ground; your appliances must either have a slender, two-prong plug that bypasses that ground, or a plug with two round prongs and a hole.
Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Embassy (2 rue St-Florentin, Paris, 1, 01-43-12-22-22 in English; 01-43-12-23-47 in emergencies, métro Concorde, weekdays 9-3; 12 bd. Paul Peytral, Marseille, 04-91-54-92-00, weekdays 8:30-12:30 and 1:30-5:30 and until 4:30 on Friday).
In case of fire, hotels are required to post multilingual emergency exit maps inside every room door.
Ambulance ( 15).
Fire Department ( 18).
Police ( 17).
If your car breaks down on an expressway, go to a roadside emergency telephone (yellow boxes) and call for assistance. If you have a breakdown anywhere else, find the nearest garage or contact the police (dial 17).
Although many French people, especially in major tourist areas, speak some English, it’s important to remember that you are going to France and that people speak French. However, at least one person in most hotels can explain things in English.
Even if your own French is terrible, try to master a few words. A simple, friendly “bonjour” (hello) will do, as will asking if the person you are greeting speaks English (“Parlez-vous anglais?”).
ATMs are one of the easiest ways to get cash. Banks usually offer excellent, wholesale exchange rates through ATMs.
To get cash at ATMs in France, your PIN must be four digits long. You may have more luck with ATMs if you are using a credit card or a debit card that is also a Visa or MasterCard, rather than just your bank card. Note, too, that you may be charged by your bank for using ATMs overseas; inquire at your bank about charges.
The unit of currency in Nice is the Euro (EUR). Under the euro system, there are eight coins: 2 and 1 euros, plus 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. On all coins, one side has the value of the euro on it and the other side has the national symbol of one of the countries participating in monetary union. There are seven notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. Notes are the same for all countries.
All taxes must be included in posted prices in France. The initials TTC (toutes taxes comprises – taxes included) sometimes appear on price lists but, strictly speaking, are superfluous. By law, restaurant and hotel prices must include 20.6% taxes and a service charge. If they show up as extra charges on your bill, complain.
The French have a clear idea of when they should be tipped. Bills in bars and restaurants include service, but it is customary to round out your bill with some small change unless you’re dissatisfied. The amount of this varies: anywhere from 50 centimes/8 European cents if you’ve merely bought a beer, to 10 francs/EUR1.50 after a meal.
Tip taxi drivers and hairdressers about 10%. In some theaters and hotels, coat check attendants may expect nothing (if there is a sign saying Pourboire Interdit – tips forbidden); otherwise give them 2 francs to 5 francs/30 European cents to 76 cents. Washroom attendants usually get 2 francs, though the sum is often posted.
The country code for France is 33. All phone numbers in France have a two-digit prefix determined by zone: Nice, in the southeast, has the prefix 04.
Numbers beginning with 08 are either toll-free or toll calls (with an additional charge on top of making the call). To make calls in the same city or town, or in the same region, dial the full 10-digit number.
Directory & Operator Information
To find a number in France, dial 12 for information. For international inquiries, dial 00-33-12 plus 11 for the U.S., 44 for the U.K.
Another source of information is the Minitel, an on-line network similar to the Internet. You can find one – they look like a small computer terminal – in most post offices. Available (free for the first three minutes) is an on-line phone book covering the entire country.
To call out of France, dial 00 and wait for the tone, then dial the country code (1 for the United States and Canada, 44 for the United Kingdom, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand) and the area code (minus any initial 0) and number. Expect to be overcharged if you call from your hotel.
To call any region in France from another region, dial the full 10-digit number (including the two-digit prefix).
Most French pay phones are operated by télécartes (phone cards), which you can buy from post offices, métro stations, and some tabacs (tobacco shops. Coin-operated pay phones are scarce, existing only in cafés (whose proprietors can set their own rates) and post offices. Phone cards are accepted everywhere else. The easiest but most expensive way to phone is to use your own Visa card, which is accepted in all phone booths and works like a télécarte.
Arriving & Departing
Most airlines fly to Paris and have connecting flights to the south of France on domestic airlines. The one exception is Delta, which has frequent nonstop flights to Nice from New York. Air France serves Nice daily from Paris and London.
Paris’s Charles de Gaulle/Roissy (CDG) ( 01-48-62-22-80 in English; www.adp.fr) has daily flights to Nice.
Paris’s Orly (ORY) ( 01-49-75-15-15; www.adp.fr) has daily flights to Nice.
The Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport (NCE) 7 km/41/2 mi from Nice, 04-93-21-30-30; sits on a peninsula between Antibes and Nice. There are frequent flights between Paris and Nice on Air Libert? AOM, and Air France as well as direct flights on Delta Airlines from New York. The flight time between Paris and Nice is about 1 hour.
Flying time to Paris is 71/2 hours from New York, 9 hours from Chicago, 11 hours from Los Angeles, and 1 hour from London.
Trains arrive at Gare Nice-Ville, avenue Thiers 08-36-35-35-35. From there you can take frequent trains to Cannes, Monaco, and Antibes, with easy connections to virtually anywhere else along the Mediterranean coast
Visitors who arrive at Aéroport Nice-Côte d’Azur 04-93-21-30-30) can board a yellow-sided bus, known as the navette Nice-Aéroport, which travels several times a day between the railway station and the airport. They operate every day from 6am to 10:30pm or until the last incoming flight arrives, no matter how delayed. A taxi ride from the airport into the city center is considerably more costly. Trip time is about 30 minutes.
Transfers Between the Airport and Town
A city bus makes the run to and from the train station all day, leaving from both terminals every half hour.
A8 flows briskly from Fréjus to Cannes to Antibes to Nice to the resorts on the Grand Corniche.
Nice is the major rail crossroads for trains arriving from Paris and other northern cities and from Italy, too. This coastal line, working eastward from Marseille and west from Ventimiglia, stops at Cannes, Antibes, Monaco, and Menton. To get from Paris to Nice (with stops in most resorts along the coast), you can take the TGV, though it only maintains high speeds to Valence before returning to conventional rails and rates. Night trains arrive at Nice in the morning from Paris, Metz, and Strasbourg.
The Chemin de Fer de Provence (Provence Railroad; Gare du Sud, 33 av. Malausséna, 06000 Nice, 04-97-03-80-80) leads from Nice to Digne and makes a local stop at St-Andr?les-Alpes, about 20 km (12 mi) north of Castellane, the eastern gateway to the Gorges du Verdon.
SNCF (88 rue St-Lazare, 75009 Paris, 08-36-35-35-35, France’s national rail service, is fast, punctual, comfortable, and comprehensive.
Most of the local buses in Nice create connections with one another at their central hub, the Station Central, 10 av. Felix Faure 04-93-16-52-10, which lies a very short walk from the place Masséna.
Bus nos. 2 and 12 make frequent trips to the beach.
Long-distance buses between Nice and such long-haul destinations as Monaco, Cannes, St-Tropez, and other parts of France and Europe depart from the Gare Routière, 5 bd. Jean-Jaurès 04-93-85-61-81.
You can rent bicycles and mopeds at Nicea Rent, 9 av. Thiers 04-93-82-42-71), near the Station Centrale. From March through October, it is open daily from 9am to noon and 2 to 6pm (closed Sunday November to April.
Local buses cover a network of routes along the coast and stop at many out-of-the-way places that can’t be reached by train. Timetables are available from tourist offices, train stations, and local bus stations (gares routières)
In Nice, the Sun Bus is a convenient way to cut across town. Bus drivers give change and hand you a ticket, which must be validated.
The best way to explore the secondary sights in this region, especially the deep backcountry, is by car.
You can easily move along the coast between Cannes, Nice, and Ventimiglia by train on the slick double-decker Côte d’Azur line, a dramatic and highly tourist-pleasing branch of the SNCF lines that offers panoramic views as it rolls from one famous resort to the next.
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A large funfair is held in Luna Park with rides and attractions for the delight of young and not so young spectators every year. (Palais des Expositions, esplanade de Lattre de Tassigny).
The Nice Carnaval draws visitors from all over Europe and North America to this ancient spectacle. This “Mardi Gras of the Riviera” begins sometime in February, usually 12 days before Shrove Tuesday, celebrating the return of spring with parades, floats (corsi), masked balls (veglioni), confetti, and battles in which young women toss flowers.. Climaxing the event is a fireworks display on Shrove Tuesday, lighting up the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels). King Carnival goes up in flames on his pyre but rises from the ashes the following spring.
Festin des Cougourdons. A traditional festival with local folklore and decorated “cougourdons” which takes place every spring. The interesting shapes of these gourds grown in the area, lend themselves to a wide variety of interpretations…
La Fęte des Mai – With this festival, probably the oldest folk tradition in Nice, every Sunday in May; dancing, picnics, folk dancing brighten up the Cimiez gardens and amphitheatre.
Every year the fishermen of Nice celebrate Saint Peter’s day. The festivities open with mass in the Ges?church, followed by a processsion all the way to Les Ponchettes beach (in front of old Nice) where a boat is burned in honour of their patron saint.
Nice Festival du Jazz, occurs for a week in mid-July.A roster of great jazz artists perform in the ancient Arčne de Cimiez. For information and tickets, contact the Comit?des Fętes, Mairie (town hall) de Nice, 5 rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 06000 Nice 04-97-13-20-00).
Inspired by the great American jazz performances, this international jazz festival is one of a kind. Every year it draws the most famous soloists and bands to the incomparable venue of the Cimiez gardens and Amphitheatre.
Mushroom Exhibition (Parc Floral Phśnix).
Rock and Mineral Show (Parc Floral Phoenix).
Christmas Village (espace Masséna: jardin Albert 1er).
Arts and Entertainment
Arčnes De Cimiez av. Arčnes de Cimiez, Nice Jazz and pop concerts are held during the summer.
Château de la Moutte
rte. des Salins, St-Tropez
Every July and August, Classical Music Concerts take place in the gardens
For ticket information, inquire at the St-Tropez tourist office
quai Jean-Jaurčs, B.P. 183, St-Tropez, 04-94-97-45-21.
Classical music and ballet performances take place at Nice’s convention center the Palais des Congrčs
Esplanade John F. Kennedy, Nice
Festival De Jazz D’antibes-Juan-Les-Pins
Every July the Festival is held under ancient pines. It’s one of the oldest festivals in Europe and claims to have hosted the European debut performance of Miles Davis. More recent jazz greats gracing the tropical nights include Herbie Hancock, Kyle Eastwood, and Joshua Redman.
Festival De Musique De Chambre
In August, Menton’s takes place on the stone-paved plaza outside the St-Michel Church.
Nice Jazz Festival
In July, the Jazz Festival draws international performers from around the world for outdoor concerts in the Parc de Cimiez north of the center, the Matisse museum, and the Roman arena.
pl. du Casino, Monte Carlo, 377/92-16-22-99
This is the main venue of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, both worthy of the magnificent hall.
Opéra De Nice
4 rue St-François-de-Paul, Nice,
The season runs from September to June.
Théâtre Municipal Francis-Gag
4 rue St-Joseph, Nice
This venue offers independent theater productions of traditional and contemporary works.
Théâtre De Nice
promenade des Arts, Nice
headed by stage and screen star Jacques Weber, alternates productions imported from Paris with creative experiments of the Centre National Dramatique Nice Côte d’Azur.
Nice’s seafront is home to at least seven different public beaches. None of them has sand; they are covered with gravel (often the size of golf balls). The rocks are smooth, but can still be difficult to navigate for people with poor balance or sensitive feet.
Tucked in between the public beaches are the private beaches of hotels. Most of the public beaches are divided into two sections: a free area and an area where you can avail yourself of the chaise longues, mattresses, parasols, changing cabanas, and freshwater showers for a fee. Nude sunbathing is prohibited, but toplessness is common. Take bus nos. 9, 10, 12, and 23 from the center of town to get to the beach.