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Nice, the capital of the Cote d’Azur, stretches along the beautiful Baie des Anges. Thanks to its geographical and climatic advantages it has always been a populated place. Today it records 930.000 inhabitants. Nice is a modern city with a cosy and charming flair which offers a great variety of cultural activities like congresses and festivals. Therefore it is no wonder that the inflow of foreign visitors is not only limited to the summer months but spans the whole year. Besides, its close location to the Italian border makes Nice a perfect place of the department for the Alpes-Maritimes. Surrounded by different kinds of landscapes such as several hills, like the most famous Cimiez with its ancient vestiges, or the French Riviera, Nice is a very pleasant place to stay and it is no wonder that this marvellous city is in second place of France’s most visited cities.
Nice is famous for its long, hot summers and mild winters. In August temperatures range from 20 to 27 degrees Celsius (68 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit). In summer the water temperature is 20 to 25 degrees Celsius (68-77°F). Winters are mild along the Mediterranean coast. In January, the temperatures usually fall between 6 and 13 degrees Celsius (43 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit). The nicest months for travelling are May and mid-September to mid. October.
The official language in Nice is French. Nevertheless, many of the inhabitants speak partially a regional dialect called Occitan. Due to the closeness to the Italian border Italian is widely understood. Also English is spoken and understood in most of the touristy places.
About 86% of the population are Roman-Catholic and the rest includes other religions such Muslims and Jews. There is also a fair number of Protestants and some people even don’t belong to any religion at all.
Sales tax is quite high at 18.6%, and is included in the shop prices. This tax can be refunded to tourists from outside of the EU whenever €175 or more is spent in the same shop. Most retailers will present you with a form to fill out in these cases, to give to customs officials at the airport. In other situations, however, tourists have to pay special taxes. While staying in France, visitors usually have to pay a tourism tax or a flat-rate tourism tax which is fixed by the local authority and ranges between 0,15 and 1,07 € per person per day, depending on the quality and the standard of the accommodation. The tax will be added to your hotel bill by the owner of the accommodation.
To call Nice from abroad you first have to put the country code for France +33 and then 493 for Nice. Public telephone boxes are widely available in France, but it is a good idea to buy a France Telecom telécarte at Métro or RER stations, post offices or newsagents rather than relying on cash. These phone cards are available in 50-unit and 120-unit versions. Many phone boxes don''t take coins, but some now accept credit cards.
Opening times of banks are usually from 9am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. Shops are usually opened during the week from 9 am – 12 am and from 2 pm – 6pm. Department stores and other large stores have one night a week when they are open late, usually until 9 pm. During busy shopping seasons, such as the month before Christmas, many shops open up on Sundays. Museums are usually open six days a week from 9 or 10 am until 5 or 6 pm. They are open on Sundays, but usually close on either Monday or Tuesday. Office hours are typically 9 am – 6 pm.
On the following days, most shops, banks and musuems will be closed, and public transport is likely to be more limited.
1st January, New Year’s Day
Easter Sunday and Monday
30th April, Great Prayer Day
8th May, VE Day
14th July, Bastille Day
15th August, Feast of the Assumption
1st November, All Saints’ Day
11th November, Armistice Day
25th December, Christmas
Nice is a relatively safe city in which even at night many people populate the streets. Only some districts such as St. Andre in the North East of the city should be avoided even during the day. Visitors have to take usual security measures to stay safe: leave worthy belongings at home, lock cars carefully also while driving; don’t leave your purse in the back of your trousers. But in general Nice is a city where you don’t need to be afraid of major crimes.
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