Here are my insider tips on making the most of The Nice Jazz Festival, July 16-20, 2019.
Arrival: Tight security causes a bit of an entry bottleneck at the start of the concerts, with the line sometimes wrapping around the block, but once the first concert gets underway the lines quickly abate. I recommend arriving around 8:15pm – you will miss a little of the first concert, but you will get right in, plus avoid the heat as that’s just when the sun dips behind the palms… perfect!
What to bring: To stay hydrated, bring an empty plastic bottle that you can refill in the water filling stations. Wear comfortable shoes or flip-flops; one stage has seats but the other main stage is standing room only. Between the two stages, you’ll find plenty of picnic tables and grassy space to relax. Bring a wrap to spread on the grass, which will also soften your seat if you are seated on the steps at the Verdure stage.
What to eat: Best food trucks are chez Pipo for socca, and Mother Trucker for artisanal cheeseburgers. The food truck lines are slow, but the music is great, so nobody seems to mind. At the drink stands you have to buy a reusable Nice Jazz Festival cup, so if you kept yours from last year, bring it.
Fan fun: After each set, the headliners on the Massena stage often pop out the side entrance behind the right side of the main stage to meet the fans, so that is where to hang out if you want to get an autograph or a quick selfie.
Free concerts: On Tuesday night the concerts on the Verdure stage are free, but space is limited to line up early at the entrance across from the sea.
Passes and discounts: The Nice Jazz Festival is one of the best music bargains on the Riviera, with 5-6 concerts a night for a ticket price of just 39€, and only 29€ if you are 16-25, over 65, a student of any age (bring proof!), or coming with a large family. Teens 10-16 are 17€, and kids under 10 are free. A festival pass for all 5 nights is just 130€, or get a 2-night pass for 60€. The ticket booth is on the other side of Place Massena, or buy online here.
Best parking deal: The best deal is to leave your car in one of the three free Parc Azur park-and-ride lots along the tram line,where parking is free upon presentation of your round trip tram ticket (3€, or 2€ if you have a 10-trip card). The tramway will be reinforced with extra trams, running every 10 minutes from 9pm to the end of the night.