As the glamorous jewel of the French Riviera, Nice beckons beachgoers to stretch out on its shores. But there’s more to it than a pebbly waterfront, pastel-colored buildings and palm trees waving in the breeze. Baroque churches surprise you in the maze of the Old Town’s twisted streets; modern sculptures dominate the gardens as you stroll in the Place Masséna; ancient Roman Ruins provide the backdrop the summer jazz concerts in Cimiez; and the candy-colored onion-shaped domes of the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral tower over you as you pass Avenue Nicholas-II. But Nice’s cultural charms are often interwoven (and sometimes overshadowed) by its reputation for over-the-top partying. Be sure to leave a little energy for the Euro-chic and vibrant nightlife along the Riviera.
How To Save Money in Nice
- Avoid private beachesAreas of the beach are cornered off by restaurants and other seaside business, which ban outside food and drink, as well as charge you upward of €10 EUR just to lounge. The public beaches might not come with chairs, but at least they’re free.
- Book smartHotel rates become more affordable from both mid March to April and September to October. Smaller hotels in the Masséna and Old Town neighborhoods tend to be more affordable as well.
- Skip the cabTaxi drivers in Nice are infamous for their swindling tricks. Save yourself the hassle and take a bus or walk instead.
Nice Culture & Customs
It is polite to greet everyone you encounter with a friendly good day (bonjour) upon arrival, and a goodbye (au revoir) when leaving. If you’re greeting an acquaintance, do shake hands upon arrival. It’s also common amongst friends to double-kiss, faire un bisous, when saying hello and goodbye. Aside from bisous, the French do not interact physically in the same way Americans do. When directly addressing someone you do not know well, do so formally by referring to them as Monsieur or Madame until told otherwise.
If you’re dining out in Nice, you should note the French eat with both hands on the table and always with utensils. The only time you should use your hands is when you are eating bread (which is often used to push food onto your fork). Never bite directly from a whole piece of bread; instead rip off bite-sized pieces. You should also use your bread to wipe your plate clean.
Tip is generally included in the bill, but it is customary to round the total up or add an extra five percent for extraordinary service. Ten percent is acceptable for maid service at a hotel, as well as for taxi drivers. The official currency in France is the euro, but most restaurants and hotels accept major credit cards, too
The food you find in Nice is lighter than in other French cities. Niçois cuisine is a mixture of traditional French ingredients — fresh cheeses, meat and vegetables — and Mediterranean flavor. Its location on the coast means that seafood is a staple as seen in the renowned salade niçois, which combines fresh tomatoes, mixed greens, tuna, anchovies and green beans in a light olive oil dressing. Other local favorites include Italian-inspired pissaladieres, small pizzas covered in anchovies and caramelized onions.
You can find the largest number of traditional Niçois restaurants clustered on the small streets of Vieux-Nice (Old Nice) and the Port District. Experts recommend looking for one of the smaller, less expensive pubs or restaurants around the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate near Place Rossetti in Vieux-Nice. For classical French dining, travel writers recommend Masséna, home to numerous brasseries, as well as a variety of restaurants serving international cuisine. Fancier establishments sit along the Promenade des Anglais(Walk of the English).