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A Comprehensive Guide about Living in Nice

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  • Javier Vazquez

    Some tips on language classes and translation services for Côte d'Azur expats from the folks on InterNations proved a godsend.

Life in Nice

Known as one of the oldest human settlements in Europe, Nice has flourished since the late eighteenth century. Today, it is probably the most popular tourist destination in France, right after Paris, which has resulted in an international community. With its population of 350,000, this city has expanded rapidly, ensuring that Nice will never hold a dull moment for its residents.

All about Nice

The Metropolis of Nice offers a varied territory to its residents: mountains, rivers, urban centers, ski resorts, beaches, and parks are all jostled together in one small space. Living in such an exciting environment means that there is always plenty to do and to enjoy.

The Municipal Council is responsible for the administration of Nice. Seated at the City Hall, it is made up of 69 members elected for six years. The mayor acts as a state official and as the executive of the town. As such, he or she has great influence over the quality of life of those living in Nice. At the moment, Christian Estrosi from the center-right Republicans party holds this office.

Enjoy the Mediterranean Climate

With over 200 days of sunshine each year, you’re guaranteed to get more than your fair share of vitamin D in Nice. The weather even led such famous painters as Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall to  settle down in the city, as they were attracted by the soft quality of the light.

Many people are drawn to living in Nice because of its Mediterranean climate. As an expat settling here, expect to enjoy beautiful six-month summers and very mild winter temperatures — even the coldest month of the year usually only cools down to about 9°C. Summers can get fairly hot; however, a fresh breeze from the sea always makes the sun bearable.

Get to Know the Niçois Lifestyle

For expats living in Nice, the concept that the culture is geared towards tourism cannot be avoided. In spite of this, most expats tend to get the feel for the true Niçois lifestyle after spending some time there. The cuisine, for example, retains its traditional flavour, especially in areas outside of the main tourist walks such as the Promenade des Anglais.

Most locals living in Nice are not interested in speaking English, preferring to stick to their native French. There even remains a small minority who enjoys speaking the disappearing local dialect, Niçard. If you are considering staying for a significant period of time, it would be a wise idea to brush up on your French, as this will instantly distinguish you from the hordes of tourists around the city.

What to Do in Your Spare Time

Whatever your interests, Nice has a lot to offer. Whether you prefer lazing on the beach at the Baie des Anges, or skiing in one of the several resorts on the mainland, the city has outdoor activities to suit all tastes. Life in the city might lead you to kindle a love of jazz at the annual, world-renowned Nice Jazz Festival; discover the local dance, the farandole; or admire the natural beauty of the Mercantour National Park.

If you fancy some retail therapy, the most popular option is the Avenue Jean Medecin at the commercial heart of the city: the Nicetoile shopping center, located here, is complete with various shops, a range of restaurants, a cinema, crèche (daycare), and parking. As a local, though, you might want to seek out the authentic Niçois shopping experience: the daily morning market of the Cours Saleya, where you can buy everything from flowers to antiques. But make sure to shop around carefully — prices differ dramatically, even between neighboring stalls!

Transportation in Nice

Nice is undergoing constant improvement, so its residents enjoy a higher quality of life than they have done in the past. If you live there, this will be clearest in the rapid developments in public transportation that are ongoing around the city.

The Most Common Means of Transportation

The bus-network Lignes D’Azur is the transportation option most commonly used by locals. It provides an easy means of transportation to school and work. Passes are available for longer periods of time, i.e. a month or a year; otherwise, a one-way ticket is 1.50 EUR and an all-day pass is 5 EUR. The details of all tariffs and lines operated by the company can be found online on the Lignes D’Azurwebsite.

Want to Travel Faster? Use the Tram

Since 2007, there has been a tram line connecting 22 stations in a U-shape around the city. This network is designed to transport local residents from the suburbs to the center and is therefore normally not overrun by tourists.

Two more tram lines, running from west to east and from the north to the airport in the south, are due to be completed in 2019. In theory, it should significantly decrease the traffic in Nice, as over 120,000 people will be transported around the city on a daily basis, which should result in around 20,000 fewer cars on the roads.

Driving and Cycling around Nice

To aid in improving the constant traffic and resulting poor quality of life for the inhabitants of Nice, there are four park and ride facilities across town. This Parcazur development is practical and economical, allowing motorists to reach the city center by bus or tram. The main roads running through Nice are the A8 autoroute (expressway) and Route Nationale 7. These roads link Marseille with Italy, providing those living in Nice with an easy means of international travel.

The city also has plenty of cycling routes, and new ones are constantly being added. Nice is also the first French city to offer residents the option of car-sharing with electric vehicles. Over 200 electric cars provided by Auto Bleue are available within the city, running between more than 60 different stations.

National and International Transportation Links

The airport in Nice is second only to those in Paris, hosting over 11 million visitors a year and flights to over 100 destinations. Expats in Nice also have easy access to Corsica, thanks to the ferry which runs regularly to the island.

In terms of trains, living in Nice allows straightforward international travel by rail: Nice-Ville, the main railway station, connects Paris and Nice in under six hours, and Nice and Marseille in two and a half hours. It also has connections to Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and even Russia.

Childcare and Education in Nice

Childcare: What’s Best for Your Child?

Like the rest of France, Nice has excellent early childcare facilities. The city has compiled a (French-language) guide to facilities for all parents living in Nice, including a helpful list of about 50 nurseries and daycare centers throughout the city. Public childcare facilities usually operate during the day from 07:30 until 18:30, while private businesses have varying opening hours. Young children can also attend one of the many kindergartens available for infants in Nice.

For more information about the French early childcare systems, please see our article on living in France.

Choosing the Right School in Nice

As a major city, Nice has an extensive choice of educational institutions. The city provides a mixture of both private and public schooling, as is usual in France.

There are also several international schools available, which could be more suitable for the children of expats. One of the most prestigious is the International School of Nice, a co-educational school for children ranging in age from pre-school to the 12th grade. A second, well-known international school is the Mougins School, located just 15 minutes from Cannes and 30 minutes from Nice.

Attending University

Nice has a significant student population thanks to the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (a French link to the university’s international pages can be found here), which has around 25,000 students, 20% of which come from abroad. This adds to the lively international atmosphere and diversity of the city.

Health and Well-Being

In case of an accident or ill health, it’s important to know what kind of provision is available to you in Nice. France’s healthcare system is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world, and the services offered in Nice are no exception. To find your nearest English-speaking doctor, contact the Riviera Medical Services. House calls are also more common and less costly in France than in many other parts of the world. They are often arranged through SOS Médecins (French-language website only), although an English-language doctor may not always be available.

For up-to-date information on hospitals and specific services at your disposal, visit the website of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU), which is also available in English.

For more information on French healthcare (including costs and insurance), check out our InterNations guide to living in France.

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