You have to go to Nice with the right attitude especially if you do not speak French. Some elderly locals remember a time when Nice was less populated by tourists, where they held grand balls in the hotel that floated on the bay. It was magical I’m told. Now Nice is one of France’s biggest tourist attractions which has changed the dynamic of the city, some would say for the worst.
Being so close to Italy and only becoming a part of the French Empire under Napoleon III there is still a lot of Italian influence in the city. Many niçois families still have Italian descent or last names. This was my second venture to France and the niçois were a bit colder and less friendly then other regions of France. Though I guess that is fair considering it is a bigger city. Toronto isn’t necessarily my favourite demographic either for the exact same reasons.
Cities on the Mediterranean are very expensive and Nice is especially sought out by famous celebrities and vacation homes for rich French bourgeois families. That’s all fine if you have money, but for a university student this means you are going to have to spend a bit more to find something reasonable in the city with the cost-of-living already high.
Here are some tips you may find handy.
Shopping all depends on where you are located in the city and what is close by. Chances are that you will still be walking lots and using local transport to get to the town center.
Vegetables and groceries:
There is a market everyday in old town (except Tuesdays when there is an antique market). This market is going to be more expensive due to it’s location. Hop on the Tram at Opéra Vieille Ville and get off at Libération here you will find a fabulous market everyday except Mondays and the prices will be better than they are in old town. Everything from fish, flowers, fruit, eggs, bread can be found in one spot!
Grocery stores. Stay away from Monoprix (more expensive). Lidl, Casino, and Intermarche are your most reasonable options.
If you are visiting for a short time you may not get to wait for sale seasons. But if you have the option wait for sale season and take advantage of the better prices. If travelling around France you may find the prices here more expensive than elsewhere. Spend your days at the beach instead of inside stores.
Day at the Beach:
Don’t wait to buy something down by the Promenade. Take a picnic with you to the beach to optimize the amount of time soaking in the rays. Restaurants by the beach are going to be pricier—a tourist trap because of their location. If I was too lazy to make something myself I would stop by a bakery before going to the beach and buy a sandwich there. A good sandwich shouldn’t be much more than 5 euros.
Nice is not a sand beach. Don’t be disappointed. This can be nicer as the water seems cleaner and clearer. The stones are a bit hard on the feet getting out of the water but you should be fine. Beach foam mats would have been nice when tanning on this beach.
Walk up the steps to Castle Hill (or be lazy like me and wait in line for the elevator). It doesn’t cost anything to go up and I highly recommend it. There is a park at the top and nice walking paths with a spectacular view of the city and the Promenade.
An Evening Stroll:
In the daytime La Place Massena and Jean Medicin can be a thriving place, it is here where one will find the Christmas Market in December and parades for Carnival in February and March. Though shopping is nice I always loved a walk to La Place Massena at night to see their fountains, the park and walk through the lit streets with friends.