Towards the end of the evening railway stations are un-manned, and at smaller stations between Nice and Cannes you can find yourself the only person on the platform. The slow trains which stop at all stations are often empty - the French prefer to drive. Your fellow passengers may be unpredictable gangs of youths. If you must travel late at night, take the bus by preference but check the times of the last service, often only 8.00 pm in the evening.
UPDATE 30th January 2005
On the news this week alpes maritime railway staff were out on strike ( a "greve") in protest that lady train conductor was attacked and assaulted on board a late night train on the Nice - Marseilles route. Grim reading gives me no pleasure but this warning is not casual: the SNCF do not provide a secure service at night.
UPDATE 1st January 2006
For days all France has been shocked by the new year Nice-Lyon train incident- up to 30 youths returning from Nice bound for Marseilles ran amok on the early evening train - terrorising and robbing passengers and assaulting a young french girl. The police had dismounted the train at St Raphael and left 600 passengers at the mercy of the gang, who later disappeared at Marseilles largely unapprehended. Government has belatedly undertaken to set up a 1500-strong railway police force.
Some feel I am being alarmist, but having narrowly escaped being mugged on a London train I tend to opt for caution - leave the bravado to others. Catching the last train from Cannes, I saw two tough armed police, with a large rottweiller straining its leash, patrolling the platform. There for a reason? Oddly reassuring.
UPDATE 1st January 2008
Yo, progress! This years New Year ticket repeated - fantastic value - go to Marseilles for a euro?! - and armed police everywhere at the stations. No chance of repeat of previous years anarchy.
Update: March 2010
An uneventful time for personal safety on the trains for some while, which is good news for travellers. Grafitti and vandalism still mar the service, and late running, but the biggest problem now is simply the inclination of the train drivers to go on strike. Not only are they routinely in dispute with management over work place issues, but the drivers main union, the very left wing CGT, is spearheading public sector action against government policies. So they are on strike twice as often as everyone else. Which is saying a lot.
Yes it's been said a hundred times over, but do NOT walk here at night. Even the locals will tell you the same thing. The reason being is there are too many places for an attacker to hide. Also, according to some of the locals, they will not hesitate to grab you, even if you scream. Not a lot of police are around at night, as they all seem to disappear around 10 or 11 PM. If you do have to walk at night, try walking along Rue de France, a couple of streets behind the Promenade (although not recommended).
Nice is usually safe, but there are some neighbourhoods that should be avoided at all costs such as Ariane and Les Moulins.
If you are alone, avoid walking through dark streets/alleys/parks*/gardens* after 10 PM. Most locals go to bed at 10 PM, therefore most streets are pretty much empty after that time. * Now parks and gardens attracts drunks and homeless people especially at night.
If you are looking for a lively place after 10 PM, go check the Vieux Nice.
Avoid walking in deserted streets, around the train station area (especially Rue de Belgique).
Be warned that if you decide walking along Promenade des Anglais, chances are you'll be approached by a man, especially if you decide resting on a bench/blue chair. He'll start chatting and if you're naive enough, he'll follow you to your hotel and sometimes even harrass you. For some reason, this kind of person tends to be interested in foreigners and/or mature solo women... It may be harmless but you'll never know. I knew someone who was followed to her hotel and this guy wouldn't stop wanting to go to her room. She got scared.
If someone starts following you, don't hesitate and enter in the very first shop you spot. Explain your problem and I'm sure someone will help you out.
Be careful not to go to ghettos like l'Ariane or Les Moulins, or even Nice Nord or La Trinite.
Basically, the town centre is fine as long as there are people, as the recent events called for more police patrols, so you're fine. Staying in rich areas like Cimiez, Caucade or Pessicart hill is fine as well.
Be very careful:
- Of the zone around the train station
- Dark parts of the old town (keep to the main street)
- The Massena gardens at night (drug dealers and yobs) (from the sea to Acropolis)
- La Californie, La Promenade des Anglais (prostitutes)
- There is a lot of bad behaviour and provocations at times - don't answer, and go away.
See see http://skane.netfirms.com/cgi-bin/nice.pl for map to places mentioned.
I have been in Nice quite a few times and stayed around the railway station, mainly because I was using it as a base for Monaco, Touet Sur Var etc. Despite its rundown and sometimes seedy feel, I never experienced any crime at any time of day or night around this area or elsewhere in Nice. Le Vieux ville is always teeming with people so obviously there are threats from pickpockets. However, no worse than any tourist area. It's common sense not to expose professional cameras anywhere. In Nice there is a red light district around Avenue Jean Medecin and Bvd Victor Hugo - and you may be solicited.
With my family I have never been pestered but once on a trip to Nice with a fellow male colleague, we received a number of wolfwhistles from mainly North African guys who assumed wrongly that we were gay but there were no physical threats.
The biggest risk is travelling on trains late at night which can be dangerous. See my site for examples.
have booked in the address www.bookinghotels.com pre-paid the hotel in Nice for the amount euro 121.81 for 13-14/7 and i was charged by Booking hotels on 9/6/09
When i went to the hotel they told me that somebody cancelled my reservation. I called them in Uk for and after two hours they told me that they cancelled it because they had differences with their agent.
I booked another Hotel in Nice for euro 182.80 because first hotel was fulled booked
3 friends and I were sitting at the beach, minding our own business when some crazy North African fellow came over and wrongly accoused us of being gay. After many attempts at befriending him and telling him we were not gay he tried to start a physical altercation with me. After a some swift movements and a ripped polo shirt I was able to get away because others at the beach stalled him. A minute later we found the police and told them the situation and pointed the Dbag out to them. Basically they told us to *** OFF and they had more imortant things to do. Wow thanx! This a great way to make tourist come back!?!
New rule for me... ALWAYS CARRY MACE!
Oy...this time round...the FIRST day we got there we got STALKED...for THREE hours! I got so pissed that I actually went up to him and asked him if he was following us! Obviously he denied that (he was soooo obviously following us)...we finally got away. And this happened after a 5 minute conversation of 'hi, how are you, nice place, you travelling...yes.' Sheesh!
Recently I was in Nice for 4 days and on Sat.12 September there was a festival at the port of Nice. I walked along Promenande des Anglais and stopped at the viewpoint at Quai des Etats-Unis. It was around 8p.m. I wanted to take a picture of the beach. I was surprised that something dropped on my head very strongly. I shouted loudly being shocked what happened to me. I saw a guy of 20 years old who threw the pizza on me. I shouted at him and said bad words to him too. He said to me " Flying Pizza, I am sorry " with a French accent. I did not know what intention he did that. Fortunately I was not harmed.