I was really hoping to fall in love with Nice, France this past month on my second visit to the city. Unfortunately, for me Nice is not so nice. I know there will be people who LOVE it and think it is just AWESOME. Just not me ~
First, let me start by saying I LOVE FRANCE! I love it! Other than Germany and Italy I have toured and visited this country more than any other in the past four years and I will continue to do so. But here’s why one of the Riviera’s most popular destination’s is on my “SKIP it” or “DAY TRIP” list.
Maybe it is the time of year I visit, February for Carnival or July during the summer rush or maybe I just have to say, nope… it’s just Nice. With just a few short years here and a full bucket list I feel like I have to give you a “heads-up” in case this destination is teetering on your “MUST-SEE” list too, and maybe you’ll want to do a bit more research before you go ~
It’s not all bad… read to the end for the good news
First, the bad news
- Not very friendly and needed to know how to speak FRENCH!
Compared to other parts of France that I tour and visit regularly especially in Burgundy, Provence, Champagne, even near Marseilles – I would have to say this area was the least friendliest to tourists trying to “parle” compared to the smaller towns.
Nice has been the only place I really hesitate before practicing my language skills. I have been studying for three years consistently, but I was VERY intimidated on speaking French here. Everyone speaks English but you will experience the eyeroll and tongue clicking while you stumble through with your accent here.…. Ugh… ain’t nobody got time for that. BUT it still won’t stop me from trying in other parts of France.
- Horrible bus and tram service – this time around on our visit our tram was not working AT ALL even though they just had a ribbon cutting celebrating the new lines open for this summer. Ooops ~
- The buses that were available “on the PROMENADE” were not on time with the schedule or “not running” at all. A local told us on Sunday afternoon’s it is at the discretion of the bus driver whether they want to stop at all the stops. We tried boarding three buses and were redirected all three times until we decided to just “walk” it out. We walked a lot, which was o.k. we walked 45,000 steps in two days (Thanks FitBIT)
- We tried to rent bicycles too from VeloBlue – grabbed my debit card information but the process was so complicated with call back numbers and downloaded emails and bikes that were broken, we bailed on that too.
After a long day of touring, one night, we took a taxi to go 1.8 km back to our apartment and it was €17. Yup, ouch… guess we should’ve just kept walking.
- Pick up your poo, Nice!
Still not quite sure what is up with this disgusting neglectful YUK but ALL over the city you must be on high alert for slipping and slidding in this lovely brown doggie doo, JUST GROSS!
- Be careful of where you stay/rent! – We rented an apartment that advertised a “sea view.” Jon (5’10”) enjoyed the sea view which was over the shrubs but with my 5’2” frame I saw nothing.
We paid €150/night+ for an apartment (suppose to sleep 4 – was a couch and pull-out) on the Promenade which was a great location but our apartment was in pretty bad shape. Even for a 4.8* on TripAdvisor. The location was why it was getting great reviews. We had broken drink glasses, a broken shelf, chipped paint from the ceiling, etc. But it wasn’t all bad, we did have A/C! Thank God~
On my last stay in Nice, I booked nine rooms for a group (pre-paid, almost €3000) at our hotel and they “lost” our reservations. After we arrived and about an hour of confusion, they discovered the reservations department didn’t talk to the front desk and they fortunately had rooms 9 rooms available, but they were not what we reserved! At that point, we were just happy with any room for my group but…#majorfreakoutmoment
- Didn’t feel particularly safe – I travel A LOT and have been in some very safe places. Nice wasn’t one of them. The devastating terrorist attack on this town in 2016 might be the reason for the increased awareness, and yet locals still warned us about pick-pockets and being safe. We saw this image a lot.
- RESTAURANT INFO – Make a reservation for your meals, only if you want good food! If you are new to traveling in Europe, especially in France, you’ll want to avoid YELP. This app is not used in Europe like it is in the States, I prefer Google+ and TripAdvisor for a more accurate review and rating. To make reservations, I use TheFork app. Especially in this region during the busy months you’ll want to be sure to get a bite to eat. You’ll find ALOT of Italian because the Romans were here so long – embrace it, but do try some FISH, if you like it.
TRAVEL TIP – WHEN TO EAT! The French CLOSE up RESTAURANTS around 2PM/1400 and re-open around 6PM/1800 or 7PM/1900 for dinner. If you are out touring and hit this POCKET of eatery desertion you are SOL! Enjoy an aperitif (cocktail) and a few potato chips/peanuts! HA!
- Not much to see and do ~ yes, there are rocky beaches – this is not a MINUS for Nice, just a travel tip – we are familiar with the sandy beaches of Florida, Gulf of Mexico, the east coast and California. The Medittereanean is rocky. Beautiful, gorgeous rocky, salty blue, but YOU WILL NEED BEACH SHOES and a comfortable beach mat if you plan on laying out for a while. There are some beautiful churches and some plazas but both were UGH crowded.
Now for the good news…
Nice is a GREAT DAY TRIP!
If you have a limited amount of time and want to see this part of the Riviera (which I would recommend) pick another city. Like Antibes or Menton (BLOGs coming OUT SOON!) Both of these towns are a cheap train ride away and have a tenth of the people as Nice. Both are fantastic harbor towns with a local art scene, coffee shops, restaurants, nightlife, historical sites and museums.
- More affordable accommodations
- Less crowded beaches
- Easy to get in and out of (especially by train)
- Cotés d’Azur train is super easy to use to hop from town to town along the Riviera. We found it to be VERY reliable despite just getting over a TRAIN STRIKE! It was €32 for four of us on our day trips to Antibes and Monaco . It was way better than driving which in MONACO cost me over €100 for one day last year. YES, €100 for 2 hours to all day!
Awesome other DAY TRIPs around these locations
- Eze, Le’ Jardin de Exotique
- Monaco (Monte Carlo)
- San Remo, Italy
I guess after four years there was bound to be a destination that didn’t make my AWESOME list. I really wanted to fall in LOVE with Nice mostly because I really do LOVE FRANCE, but Nice, well… it’s just not that nice for me. You can’t win ‘em all.
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!
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