Parking, French style
As a visitor you really don't need a car in Nice unless you plan to do a lot of touring. The bus services are fine, and your own two feet can do the rest.
Sadly, this view is not shared by the Nicois, many of whom insist on driving furiously everywhere, on four wheels, or two.
One side effect of this is bad behaviour when it comes to parking. Here a distraught young Nicois has found her car victim of the automotive finale of chess. Unable to move either forward or back , her diagonal moves are also blocked by cars double parked.
Voila. "Checkmate." Now get out of that!
The rest of the day could be spent here waiting for the owners of the surrounding cars to turn up. Politeness suggests you leave your mobile number on the dash, but often it doesnt happen that way.
And if the parking doesn't get you, the municipal traffic police love setting up traps for hapless motorists, with spot fines a possibility. So no, you don't want a car in Nice.
Nice Cote d'Azur Airport Duty Free Scam
In the perfume/cosmetics shop at Terminal 1 insist that the till operator show you exactly how much your bill total is before you blithely punch in your PIN - otherwise you may get home like we did (twice!!) to find the item has been scanned twice and you've paid exactly DOUBLE the price. Don't get put off because they seem to be having some kind of row with their manager; it's all part of the scam to get you to pay without checking how much you're being charged.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Luxury Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
If you travel by rail and buy tickets before then be aware that in case of strikes you will be in trouble. In theory you can change time of departure but in fact there will be big chaos, stress and your travel might be delayed.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
Visible police presence
I didn't know where to put this, so I chose this one. While walking around I noticed a large police presence both day and night. It made me feel better knowing there were so many around, but got me thinking about why they need so many. I'm still wondering.
There are also many plain clothes police walking among the crowds. While we were eating at Lu Fran-Calin restaurant, we saw a big man chase down a smaller man, catch him, we heard hand cuffs, a plea of no, then saw the bigger man walking the smaller man away. He was a plain clothes officer. We observed what went on and found out that the guy had drugs and tossed them while he was chased. We saw the other plain clothes cops find it with a blue light. Yes, this was our dinner entertainment! The men sitting next to us told us there are a lot of plain clothes police walking around and jokingly said you can tell who they are because they have moustaches.
Extortionate beer prices in Nice in budget area
Make sure that you ascertain the price of beer in bars the station area, particularly rue angleterre where I paid 5 euros for 25cl lager in the Guet Apens bar and neighbouring Rue Alsace Lorraine. Also note that you will be charged more after certain times, usually 10 or 11 pm.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Budget plastic surgery
The human race is the only object worthy of close attention. Some people prefer to watch birds, and true, they are cute, but I'll setttle for people.
Some people are not satisfied with how they look. Surgery can help, no? Perhaps you were wondering what Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon was doing before Jackson's face began to morph into that of Elizabeth Taylor? Well perhaps he was practicing in France, a country where how you look is of no small importance.
Testimony to the temporary nature of the surgeons gift, discretely observe the results of plastic surgery, twenty years downstream. The demand for beauty beginning to lose the battle against time.
Its a salutory warning: the baby snub nose - but soon you will be able park a bus between it and the upper lip. The eyes are said to be windows on the soul, but now wrinkles fight against the tightened skin. Half the face ages whilst the other half remains stuck in time, pulling apart like techtonic plates. The neck contradicts the cheeks.
Surgical enhancement requires high maintenance.
Road from the airport
Local media are reporting that along the road from Nice airport, young thugs are approaching cars at traffic lights, ripping open the car doors and grabbing any bags within reach. Easy to prevent: just lock your doors.Related to:
- Road Trip
Andouille de Guéménée
On one of our numerous culinaire adventures we stumbled over this kind of ..well 'sausage' called 'Andouille de Guéménée' at the Monoprix store. Not knowing what it was exactly, we ordered a slice and the girl behind the counter gave it to us, smiling. As it was quite expensive we took it, smiling and full of joie anticipée, and went on to have a picknick up there at Le chateau.
First impression: it didn't have the anticipated consistency. Strange smell too.
Cautios we tried it, just to experience the most awfull taste in the world -- after one or two horrid seconds we managed to spit it out without puking.. thank god we had enough water to flush the taste and wash our hands!
After returning home we did a little research to find out what this stuff is: Pig guts that, after ~3 weeks of storage, have been cleaned, rolled up to a sausage, put into beef stomach, smoked for 9 months and then been boiled. Mmh.
The French know various ways of enjoying it, cooked or fried, with different side-dishes, it is a speciality it seems.
Better spare yourself this kind of experience and go for the pâte instead.
Enjoy your meal!
CIIK and ewa_lilikoiRelated to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
When we were in Florida, my little sister stepped on jelly and got stung on her foot. She couldn't walk for the rest of the day, and it scarred her for life (not literally). Much to our surprise, we found the tiny version of these critters swimming in the sea beside us! My friend, not my sister ended up getting stung, and it made her arm numb for about 1/2 hour. Two weeks later, and the burn mark is still there. Though many beach goers swim out to collect them, beware the jellies!
Save your sleep
If you want to feel rested after a good night's sleep, make sure you don't stay in a hotel or place anyway near the Autoroute / rails around the central station.
I've never experienced a creaking and shrieking like from those trains - all day and 'round the clock. The French don't seem to care about noise protection.
We woke up in the night despite the ear-plugs. This is definetly not funny.Related to:
- Road Trip
Pelagia noctiluca - stinging jellyfish
Before you plunge into warm waters this summer, look before you leap.
Bell shaped up to 10cm with purple and pink warts, Pelagia inflicts burning sting and a high intake of venom can be deadly. The Med has shoals of them in the summer peak, due to the very warm waters (25C+).
Beaulieu was recently (July) unswimmable due to one floating in every few feet of water. The are easily visible,a bit nasty, and not to be "trifled" with. ("Jelly" + "Trifle" - geddit?)
As there are many flowers, trees in the region, there may be bugs around, so if you are allergic to mosquitoes bites or bee sting, it's advisable to avoid using scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays; also avoid dressing in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints. Last summer a bug stung me on my back, it was very painful! I learned my lesson: no more bright pink T-shirt or strong perfume.
French Public Inconveniences
As Joan Rivers would say: "Can we talk?"
Despite some of the world's finest culture and art, literature, philosophy, haute couture and grande cuisine - the French have complete disregard for personal comfort and hygeine when it comes to the call of nature. Its as if you had stepped back a thousand years. If not confronted by a unisex hole in the ground, sometimes, if you are really lucky, you may find cold porcelain, bare of any supporting structure. Strangely for a nation beleagered by bureaucrats and paperwork, there will be no paper in sight.
In a cafe sometimes the loo will be kept locked to prevent desperate members of the public taking advantage - the key will be kept behind the bar for paying customers only.
In select urban locations the JC Decaux company install these frightening self cleaning steel automatic toilets. Personally they scare the pants off me. What if the exit gets stuck and you are sucked down the U-bend before anyone can help? Machines don't care!
Most public areas and especially railway stations - Nice Ville Gare is among the worst offenders - should be given a wide berth, as should many of the beach public facilities. Attendant run facilities cost around 30 cents and can be ok: anything "free" should be avoided like the plague.
Without wishing to border on the indelicate, venturing out for any extended period of time in France means preparing for such of life's little hazards. Mrs NiceLife recommends not to worry, but always to have a small packet of tissues to hand, "just in case you need to blow your nose". No doubt the French say we British are too concerned with our bowels. Perhaps we need to say to the French: you are not concerned enough!
Public transport: don't count on it when you're in a hurry.
Ok, I'm from Holland where the buses run on time and if they don't, we complain. Majorly.
I've been in quite some buses, trains and airplaned while I was in Nice, and I didn't have one piece of transport that was on time (even the airplan, but that's a joke ofcourse).
Now, I was on holiday, so I didn't care much and by matter of exception, I decided to go to the airport early for my return flight to Holland. I figured out before how to get there (see my transportation tips) and knew that the buss would run every 20 minutes or so. So I was in time, and guess what? I had to wait 55 minutes for the buss to arrive. Meaning I arrived at the airport just in time to check in, but I can imagine that some people waiting for that airport shuttle were very nervous.
Same with the trains. I had to take the train to Sospel and it just didn't enter the station. My French is pretty good and I didn't hear a calling that the train was cancelled but after an hour waiting I see arriving on another platform... another train with destination Italy. Thank god for my open eyes.
Anyway, this happened to me a few times while I was in Nice.
Again, I was on holiday so I didn't really mind, but like I said: if you're in a hurry, don't count on public transport.
For many months now the decline of the exchange value of the US dollar - to do with its relationship with the Japanese yen and other South East Asian curencies - has pushed up the value of the Euro for no earthly good reason. European economies are - lets face it - nothing to shout about, but the falling dollar is dragging currencies like British sterling down with it. This charts the decine in the purchasing power of my GB Pound against the Euro. Thanks guys. Sort yourselves out!
My prefered site to track the value of the Euro is X-rates which gives you a good three month daily picture. You won't get this actual rate of course - its the central bank rate for large commercial transactions, but knock a few percent off to get the high street tourist picture. Its customisable to whatever currency you want, and there is a friendly daily email service to tell you what the value is every day. Invaluable.
Tip: don't waste even more money changing at the airport. They offer the worst rates you are likely to find. You will do better taking money out of the French hole-in-the-wall machines through your debit card.
15th June 2005
The French "No" vote against the European Constitution" has completely reversed currency trends. GBP Sterling just crossed 1,50 - amazing good news for Tourists!
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