Nice goes from 12 to #1 on Gay Friendly

With Apollo, the gayest statue on the Riviera, now reigning over Place Massena (…and looking out on to plastic statues of nude men glowing in pastel colors!), is it any wonder that in just two years, Nice has rocketed from 12th place to #1 on the French magazine Tetu’s list of France’s most gay-friendly cities outside of Paris?

A new politic in the Mayor’s office has been a major influence: Just a few years ago, outgoing mayor Peyrat was against a Gay and Lesbian center opening in Nice, but the new Mayor Christian Estrosi not only made it happen, but presided over last May’s inauguration himself.

Certain streets and districts have started to adopt the trend, like rue Old Nice and especially rue Bonaparte in the Port, known as the ‘Petit Marais’ after the chic legendary quarter in Paris.  Nice has even started a ‘Gay Welcoming’ program to sensitize businesses to the advantages of this discerning clientele, and has promoted a list of gay-friendly hotels and restaurants.

There are still occasional instances of gay targeted vandalism and violence, the latest being last April when a public kiss incited a beating, but these types of crimes are not only happening with less frequency, but they are also less tolerated:  After that last incident, the gay community came out in force for a 200-person “kiss in” to protest the violence.

Actually, when you think of it, Nice has had a gay vibe for years: Nice’s most famous hotel, Le Negresco, has displayed a giant Niki de Saint Phalle statue rotating in the middle of its ballroom, for over a decade!

Nice-Matin: Quand Nice fait son Coming Out

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The WWII Liberation of Nice: What really happened

Nice, August 1944, 67 years ago, today

The summer of 1944 was a scorcher, in every sense.  The beaches of Nice were peppered with mines and covered with barbed wire and anti-aircraft weapons: a German precaution in case the Allied forces had any ideas of debarking on the Promenade.  The buildings lining the Promenade had been requisitioned by the Germans and were empty and barricaded… except for the Negresco, which was being used as a Nazi administrative center.  …Looming over the scene was the ghost of the magnificent Casino de la Jettee, the symbol of Nice, which the Germans had dismantled in March and April; its scrap used to build Nazi aircraft.

The Allied forces had come ashore in the Var just 2 weeks earlier, but that had not stopped the reign of terror in Nice, where tensions had reached an apex with the public execution of 23 young resistants in the Ariane just a few days prior.   The Allied forces were under orders not to cross the river Var, so on the night of the 27th, the resistants in Nice decided that they had to take matters into their own hands.  They were 350 “soldiers without uniforms” against 2000 armed German occupiers.

The guerrilla operation started at 6am on the 28th, with simultaneous attacks all over Nice, using every explosive possible down to Molotov cocktails and firecrackers, to give the impression of a force much greater than they actually were.  Early on, the surprise attack succeeded in taking a munitions storage near Gambetta-Cessole, which helped rearm the volunteers, whose number grew to 1500 as the day progressed.  Around noon the fighting intensified at Place Garibaldi, Riquier, Gambetta, Magnan, Avenue Thiers and Jean Medecin, and from their base on top of the Chateau, the Germans fired round after round aimed at at the rooftops and terraces of Vieux Nice.

The Germans were not sure what was happening, and cabled the command that Nice was infested with terrorists.  With the Allied forces just down the coast, the writing was on the wall, and at 7pm the Germans evacuated their fortifications at the Chateau, blowing up the Port on their way out.  At 9pm the Allied ships arrived and bombed the armaments on the Promenade des Anglais.  At 11pm it was over: the 2000 German soldiers left Nice in a long convoy, machine gunning the buildings along Jean Medecin on their way out of town towards Villefranche.

The battle that day cost the lives of 31 insurgents with 280 injured; the Germans lost 25 of their men and 105 were taken prisoner.  (In a side note, some of those prisoners were later made to clear the beaches of mines, and several were killed by exploding mines that they themselves had placed.)

Two days after the Nicois liberation, the American tanks arrived at Place Massena.

Photos: Nice-Matin 2002: ’28 aout 1944 : Le jour le plus long’, photos collection Musee Azureen de la Resistance

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It’s Catching: Another Victim Whomps Attacker

It must be catching:  Wednesday night a couple of Italian tourists gave a lesson in vigilante justice to a couple of local punks.  The Italians were driving through the Port around midnight, when two punks on a scooter attempted a vol à la portière:  the Nice specialty where they yank open the passenger side car door, violently grab the purse, and flee before the victims even know what happened.

Well this passenger was not letting go of that purse!   The attacker, faced with a furious Italian hellcat, let go of the purse and the chagrined scooter duo sped off around the Port towards Villefranche-sur-mer.

Then the Italians did something extraordinary:  the driver hit the gas and the rental Fiat Panda flew into turbo-mode in hot pursuit of their attackers!   The punks freaked out and sped up but the Fiat was hot on their tail and when it got close enough… rammed them!   The scooter spun out and the terrified but unhurt delinquents escaped on foot, but the police now have their wheels so an arrest cannot be far behind.    Victims 1, Criminals 0!

Nice-Matin: ‘Port : les victimes mettent àterre les voleurs a la portière’

Related posts: Celebrity Victim of  Vol à la Portière’ Attempt, which includes a video so you can see this maneuver in action, and Local Thug Beaten by Angry Granny

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Crime in Nice: Local Thug Beaten by Angry Granny

Two stories on crime in Nice caught my eye in this morning’s Nice-Matin, one funny, one not:

After trading insults, a local man was surrounded by a couple of neighborhood thugs who started to give him a beating… in front of his mother.  Rather than stand by and watch her grown son get pummelled, the furious 86-year-old  jumped into the melee and started viciously beating the aggressors with her cane!   She cracked one over the head so hard his scalp split wide open, and when the police finally arrived, he got sent to the hospital along with the son.    How humiliating!   Go granny!

The other story is more disheartening.  A thief was nabbed Saturday, when police saw him jump off a downtown bus near Galleries Lafayette and run with a passenger’s purse.   Turns out, he’s a ‘serial pickpocket’ that is known to the police for 50… yes, fifty… similar complaints.    So they threw him in the clink, right?

Wrong:  inexplicably, they let him back out on the street to continue his chosen profession on unsuspecting tourists and the elderly…   Oh, but don’t worry, he will face the judge… in March.   (…And in the meantime he’ll be able to steal enough to hire a good lawyer!)     What happened to Mayor Estrosi’s big crime crackdown on repeat offenders?

Nice-Matin: Un coup de bequille sur l’agresseur de son fils, Un “serial pickpocket” arreté… puis libéré

Related Post: It’s Catching: Another Victim Whomps Attacker

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Nissa Rebela wishes Muslims a happy Ramadan

Rue de la Lapidation, or ‘Stoning Street’

After the first night of Ramadan, Nice’s Muslim community woke up to find their street signs stickered over:  rue d’Italie now read ‘Burqa Boulevard’, rue d’Angleterre had become ‘Stoning Street’, and rue de Suisse, the site of the controversial overflowing Islamic prayer center, had become ‘Islamic Brotherhood Road’.   The culprits were the far-right group Nissa Rebela, known for their “France for the French” mobile soup kitchen… that feeds the homeless, but only if they eat pork: the serve pork-infused ‘Identitaire Soup’ to exclude any hungry Muslims or Jews.

The City immediately scraped the offending stickers off the street signs, under the watchful eye of the police, and the Mayor’s office issued a statement strongly condemning the vandalism; but the City is also fully aware of its part in inflaming the tensions.   For 11 years, rue de Suisse has been the site of a makeshift basement prayer room, which has become so crowded in recent years that the prayers often spread out to the street, bringing the quarter to a standstill and infuriating non-Muslim residents.  The owner of the building wants to sell, but 2 days before a religious association was to buy it, the City preempted the purchase, as they have the right to do, and is buying it themselves under the guise of a redevelopement project… which will not include an Islamic prayer center.

Between the tensions caused from loss of their prayer center and the new Burqa ban, the last thing we need is taunts and vandalism from the far right on Ramadan.  It may be the heat of August, but let’s hope cooler heads prevail…

Nice-Matin:  Notre-Dame rues debaptisees plainte deposee,   La salle de priere de la rue Suisse preemptee par la ville

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Best Beach Bargains in Nice

Photo by Mary M. Payne

How expensive is a day at the beach in Nice?  The Nice-Matin recently published a comprehensive study of all Nice beaches, comparing the price of a lounge chair + parasol + lunch (Salade Nicoise, Coke and a coffee).   And the winners are… Miami Beach, near Fabron, with Opera Plage across from Old Nice in a close second!

With most beaches charging around 20€ for day’s use of a lounge chair and parasol,  Miami Beach stood out at only 11€ for the day, and Opera Plage and Florida Plage (near Gambetta) were close seconds at a very reasonable 14€.  Don’t forget that you can cut the price even further if you go after lunch for the half-day deal… and with the sun still out at 8pm, you’ll still have a nice long time to bake.

Least expensive lunch on the beach?  The venerable Opera Plage!   Their Salad Nicoise was only 13.50€, a Coke only 3.50€.   Runners up at 14€ and 4€ were Miami, Neptune and Blue Beach (both near the Negresco).  In general, a beachside cuppa coffee will run about 2.50€, but you can save a few centimes at Florida (2.20€), and Miami, Blue Beach, and Lido Plage, where it’s 2.30€.

Overall most expensive?  Ruhl Plage takes the dubious honor, with Hi Beach and Castel Plage close behind, setting you back 22-25€ for the beach day, and 24-25€ for the lunch.

Nice-Matin: Les tarifs des plages mettent-ils le consommateur sur le sable? 

Photo credit: Mary M. Payne,

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Monaco Driver Causes Million Dollar Fender Bender

…And you think you’re having a bad day!    This was the scene last Friday, at Place du Casino, Monte Carlo:

…Oops. I guess I shouldn’t have been texting…




Only in Monaco would you find a Bentley Azure T that’s managed to plow into a Ferrari F430, damaging an Aston Martin Rapide, a Porsche 911 Carrera S and a Mercedes S-Class in the process.    A million dollar fender bender… oops.

For more photos, click here

Reprinted from, by Justin Hyde; Photo credit:

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Nerves of Steel: Estrosi talks bomber down in Vieux Nice

It was a scene straight out of Dog Day Afternoon:  A desperate lunatic, who for years has filled the windows of his Vieux Nice shoe store with slogans insulting the Mayor, calls the Mayor’s office and yells ominously, “…You’ve WON!”   He then barricades himself in his shoe store with several cans of gasoline, intending to blow himself up …and the building with him.

The freaked out employees call the police, and sirens blare as the SWAT team arrives in force.  Twenty police in full bomb-squad gear surround the building and cordon off the area, while the elite snipers in black take position.  The chief negotiator tries to make contact, but the raving, pacing madman just yanks the ringing phone off the wall and smashes it, yelling, “…Leave me in PEACE!”

“I’m going in! Hold your fire!” Photo: Francois Vignola, Nice-Matin

Next his cellphone rings and this time he answers, but before he can yell, he realizes it’s Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi, who, known for his silver tongue, amazingly talks the crazed would-be human torch down from the brink, all the while racing to the scene.  Once there, the police warn Estrosi not to go in alone, but Estrosi orders the police to lower their guns and goes in anyway, saying, “I take the responibility!”

After 45 minutes, the unfortunate unlocks the grille and emerges from his store arm in arm with “his Mayor” as he now calls him, and willingly allows himself to be tranquilized by his waiting doctor and taken to the hospital.

The next day, a transformed Eric Melloul was looking forward to the future and assured the Nice-Matin that he is not mentally ill or on meds.    He said that Christian Estrosi spoke to him “super bien” and Melloul was so impressed by the Mayor that he apologised for the 5 years of venimous anti-Estrosi slogans in his shop windows and promised to take them down the next day.   Melloul explained that his anger started with the tramway construction work outside his store, which he felt that he was not adequetly compensated for, and that now his shoe store only makes 50€ a day (hmmm… could the storefront being filled with crazed rants have had anything to do with that?)   He was behind on his rent and about to lose his lease …and all he really wanted was to open a restaurant.   His new buddy Estrosi promised to approve his Change of Use Permit, so look for the discount shoe store to become Lou Cabanon Nissart, coming soon… Just don’t order the crepes flambé.

Click here for a photo slide show

Nice-Matin: Desespere, il menace de s’immoler par le feuLe forcene nicois veut tourner la page


Photo credit: Nice-Matin, Francois Vignola

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Monaco Royal Wedding Gossip Round Up

Monaco Wedding Royal Stamp

To get the most out of the upcoming Royal Wedding, one should be up-to-speed on the latest news.   In the interest of enriching your Royal Wedding experience, here is a sampling of the royal scoop:

Last week, the New York Times examined what it’s been like for Charlene during her four years of probation, I mean limbo, while she anxiously waited for Albert to pop the question, …and everyone else anxiously waited to see if she would trip up and be disqualified. Even in this interview, when she has the prize in the bag, she still defers to Albert for even the simplest question, revealing the pressure she is under to never deviate from the script (…and imagine the added stress when she must speak in the linguistic minefield that is French!)

It’s almost Hitchcockian, this role that she is taking on, where she is both encouraged and vilified for taking on the look of Princess Grace.  The Rivera Reporter did an interesting story titled “Charlene: But Will She Be Happy?” that contrasts Charlene’s old life (tracksuits)  with the new one of designer clothes and paparazzi… check out this photo spread for some interesting portraits of the future princess in her former work clothes (a bathing suit) as well as her new ones.

But more pressing is the speculation currently lighting the web on fire (and vigorously denied by the Palace) that Charlene might have tried to bolt the Principality upon hearing of new Albert hijinks…  Others wonder whether the relatively young and scandal-free Charlene will be stepping into to the Princess Diana trap…    Will Caroline’s  conspicuously absent husband be the ‘Fergie’ of the Monaco Royal Wedding?   And is Nicole Coste Monaco’s “Camilla”?

Prince Albert in a Can

Okay so now you’re up-to-date on the current events, but what about boning up on a little Monaco history?   Here’s an article that will fill you in on the family that has “more scandals per kilometer than any other royal family in Europe.”

So study up: the big Royal Wedding weekend is just days away!

Update June 29: the latest developments from the Daily Mail on the big wedding scandal: did Charlene try to flee just days before the wedding?   True, false, …or a publicity stunt to generate interest for what seems to be a rather wooden marriage? 

Update July 3:  Prince Albert faces paternity test after wedding… what a way to put a damper on the honeymoon!

Update July 21:  Prince Albert is so mad at all the spurious rumors about his marriage that he held a 12-minute no-questions press conference to quell all doubts, with his silent bride looking on.  He castigated irresponsible journalists for “printing rumors without verifying the facts,”  but when one journalist tried to verify a fact, the Prince snapped, “I’m not answering any questions!”  He said the rumors were so outrageous that he and Charlene just had to laugh, like the one that cast doubts on the marriage just because they slept in separate hotels 10 miles apart on the first night of their honeymoon… “It was for practical reasons, obviously!”   Oh, well that explains it! Nice-Matin:  Rumeurs a Monaco: Albert n’en peut plus

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Celebrity Victim of ‘Vol à la Portière’ Attempt

Thursday around 7:30pm on the Prom, he was sitting in his parked car, probably with briefcase and phone sitting on the passenger seat, when his car was spotted by two young n’er-do-wells, looking for an easy mark. They pulled their scooter alongside his car on the sidewalk side then each tried to yank open the two passenger doors to grab the contents inside. The doors were locked, so they whizzed off on the scooter, getting away.  But who was in the car?  Nice Mayor, Christian Estrosi!

So, Mayor Estrosi, how are those juvenile delinquent anti-crime initiatives coming along?

The vol à la portière is a kind of Nice specialty, and a few years ago used to happen up to 10 times a day in the summer, mostly to foreigner’s cars just after they came off the freeway, or in parking areas frequented by tourists. The aggressors worked in pairs on a scooter, and they would often kick or punch the stunned passenger to make it easier to grab her purse.  With their faces obscured by their helmets, even with surveillance cameras they were almost impossible to identify, so finally the city had to resort to massive undercover stake outs at the major intersections.   These car robberies have dropped ever since, but evidently a new crop of young delinquents are taking up the mantle.

But thanks to the attack on the Mayor (nice one, guys!), I smell a new crackdown coming…

Here’s the article in the Nice-Matin, and a little video so you can see the vol à la portière in action:

vol a la portiére par klay06

See related page on how to avoid getting pickpocketed, purse snatched or scammed

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Port Restaurant Attacked by Corsicans in Crazy Football Violence

UPDATE:  Check out the comments for an eye-witness account by one of the restaurant’s clients…

The irony is that it wasn’t even a Nice match!  Yesterday, the Corsica-Nice ferry brought over four busloads of Corsican football fans on their way to a match in Frejus.   Having been warned by the boat about its rowdy load, the police were already present at the dock when the boat came in at 1:30pm and were immediately pelted with projectiles from the boat.   To calm things down, the police held the buses from disembarking the ferry for an hour, but when they finally gave the go-ahead, the buses  went about a block before getting stuck in traffic in front of the restaurant La Goelette.

Having a Coke on the terrace were a handful of rival Nice football fans that couldn’t resist hooting and insulting the Bastia team.   Note to self: don’t mess with Corsicans.  The bus doors opened and the Corsicans streamed out… and all hell broke loose:  rocks, bottles, cans rained down on the bus and restaurant terrace… then the hammers, smoke bombs, cement-filled pipes came out… a molotov cocktail lit the restaurant curtains on fire…tables and chairs and metal construction barriers went flying, smashing all cars and scooters unlucky enough to be in the vicinity.  It was all-out saloon brawl straight out of an old Western, completely destroying the restaurant La Goelette, whose traumatized staff and clients were cowering behind the bar and hiding upstairs.

The police ran up the quai but it had all happened in a flash and they were too late.  The best they could do was corral the Corsicans and search them one-by-one, confiscating an impressive array of bombs, clubs and brass knuckles (called poings Americains in French, or American fists!)    At 5pm the buses left for Frejus under police escort…  to go to the 8pm match.   …Really?  The police let the hooligans go to the football match after that?  Maybe even the Nice police don’t mess with Corsicans.

Source: Corse-Matin

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No Fig Leaf for Apollo Statue

Banned from Place Massena in the ‘70’s for being overly well-endowed, the giant marble statue of Apollo is coming back.  The fountain that currently crowns Place Massena has lived a long and twisted story:  At its inauguration in 1956 there were the current five bronze statues, but also its crowning glory: a 7-meter high, 7-ton white marble statue of Apollo standing in the center.

Apollo’s ample attributes created controversy right away:  it’s not that they were exactly out of proportion, but as the statue is nearly 4 times the size of a man …his accouterments are extra-large as well, giving him an impressive package that… let’s just say, tends to catch the eye.   So in 1979, after being frequently vandalized with paint (I’ll leave the details to your imagination), a The League of Feminine Virtue finally succeeded in having our man exiled to a spot where he would be less likely to offend women’s delicate sensibilities, to the football stadium in Nice Nord, where he has lived in obscurity all these years.

In the meantime, what was left of the fountain, seemed incomplete, and when it started leaking in the early ‘90’s, it was entirely dismantled and replaced with a very under-whelming grass-covered mound with 3 scrawny palm trees.

Fast-forward 15 years, when Place Massena was in the midst of tramway-hell, a local reporter spied the bronze statues stored near the airport.  He did a small nostalgic “where are they now” piece in the Nice-Matin, and suddenly there was a groundswell of support to bring back the magnificent fountain!   And so it was: with much fanfare the Greco-Roman fountain was restored.  …But wait, there was one very large missing member!  (I’m referring to Apollo.)  More grassroots agitation ensued… culminating in last week’s announcement:  The big guy, in all his glory, will finally be re-erected (so to speak) to his rightful place to reign over Place Massena on June 21, just in time for the Fete de la Musique.  Ta da!

UPDATE:  In an bizarre twist, history repeats itself as Apollo gets censored again!   This post sparked a story in the mainstream American press last week, but then the editors, not seeing any irony, censored the photo themselves, blurring out the statue’s package until he resembled a Ken doll.   How funny that 30 years later, our delicate sensibilities must still be protected from his marble mojo… but this time by the Americans?   The more things change…     AOL News: “Well-Endowed Apollo Statue to Be Re-Erected in France” by Dana Kennedy

Posted in Life Imitates Comedy | Tagged | 14 Comments

WWII Spy Makes Her Final Escape

Last August, a story in the Nice-Matin about an 86-year-old woman who miraculously survived 3 nights after falling into a ravine near her Levens home, caught the eye of Lord Ashdown.   He had been searching for Suzanne Leglise, the only surviving member of an illustrious French-British WWII spy ring, for over 30 years, and in discovering her revealed her incredible story.

In 1940, Suzanne was a 16-year-old schoolteacher in Bordeaux when she discovered that her hotelier father was secretly running a large resistance network.  She begged to join and he reluctantly agreed, starting her as a courier, working up to spy missions, and finally sabotage missions.  In 1942, on one such mission, she fell in love with Charles the Demolisher, an explosives expert.  Their love grew and their missions multiplied, culminating in ‘Operation Frankton’ which blew up enemy ships anchored in the Port of Bordeaux.   Then in 1943 Suzanne’s father discovered that a member of their network was actually a double agent, but it was too late: the family home was surrounded by 80 members of the Gestapo and although the 4 held out all night, by morning they were forced to surrender. Her mother was wounded but then escaped from the hospital, her father was sent to Buchenwald but survived, and Charles was never heard of again.  Suzanne was sent to the Ravensbruk concentration camp, where she managed to stay alive, and then escaped from the camp just 1 week before the liberation.

Flash forward a lifetime later, last August, when the frail elderly Suzanne was trapped for 3 days and nights in a ravine.  At 86 years old, it was her natural instincts that saved her life: without water or food, she lived by licking the dew off of leaves surrounding her.  In spite of the abrasions covering her body, she escaped uninjured – physically, that is.  Concerning her physiological state, the recovery has been much more complicated.  “She thought that she was again at war”, explained her son, Yves.  “When she heard the gendarmes, she thought they were the Gestapo.  That was the reason it took us so long to find her.  Since the accident she has been very weak.  When the Lord Ashdown showed her the photo of Charles the Demolisher, she told him that she did not know him.  Yet, when we weren’t looking, she told one of my daughters, ‘Above all, we must not say anything’.”   Her emotional state has been further complicated by the 5-year anniversary of the suicide of her son, who ended his life a short walk from her house, with Suzanne’s old pistol from the war.  Since then, when she wanders, she usually wanders down around that spot.

After the ravine incident, her son provided her a GPS transmitter, arranged for a nurse to provide constant surveillance, and kept the doors locked to prevent her from wandering out, but she escaped anyway by picking the lock.  Placing her in a rest home for war veterans near Vence, she vowed to escape, and then did so by hiding in the trunk of a plumber’s car that had come to work on a pipe.

This week she made her final escape: after leaving the GPS transmitter at the door, she left the house and has not come back.   A massive search with helicopters, heat sensors and dogs, has come up with nothing.

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All that Glitters is not Gold: The Gold Ring Scam – Crime in Nice


The gold ring scam is back, with reports of a man working this well-worn ruse on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice last weekend.

Here’s how the gold ring scam works:  A helpful passerby alerts you that you’ve lost something, and as you turn he picks up a thick gold band that you must have ‘dropped’, and hands it to you.  “Not mine!” you say, but since no one else is claiming it he generously offers it to you anyway.  As he’s handing it over he examines it a little closer and realizes it’s marked 14k and must be worth quite a bit since it’s so heavy…  After some discussion he finally insists that you go ahead and keep it anyway, but suggests that since it’s worth so much the only decent thing for you to do is to give him a little something for his trouble…  Sucker!

Nice-Matin: L’arnaque de la bague en or de la retour

See related post on the Petition Scam and on another popular Nice crime Vol a la portiere.

See related page on how to avoid getting pickpocketed, purse snatched or scammed in Nice

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Chagall Museum Free on First Sunday



Nice has an abundance of great museums, and the Chagall Museum is one of the best.  And even better: on the first Sunday of each month, the Musee Chagall is free, so if you haven’t been in a while, now’s the time.  The Chagall Museum is a little gem:  intimate, inspirational, and the only art museum in Nice with audio guides.

While you’re up on Cimiez, why not make it a double header and check out the nearby Matisse Museum or tour the impressive Roman ruins at the Archaeology Museum, built on the site of the Roman baths?  Other options include a picnic in the ancient olive grove, and a stroll through the Italian gardens of the Franciscan Monastery.

See Related Pages:

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The Saudi Prince and the Porsche

A year ago August, a young Saudi prince, out testing the limits of his new yellow Porsche in the streets of Cannes, spun out of control and T-boned a Fiat driven by Marie Dalmont.  Seconds later, as the two shocked drivers crawled out of their respective cars, a black SUV screeched to a stop and four burly bodyguards leaped out and formed a human chain around the Saudi prince saying, “No problem! No problem!”   The police arrived, but between the (false) claims of ‘diplomatic immunity’, the impressive bodyguards, and the Porsche’s Saudi plates that just said ‘1’, they didn’t question him and let him go without so much as an alcohol test.

Since then, Marie has had multiple back operations, and has fought an up-hill battle to make the arrogant prince cover her medical expenses of a paltry (to him) 10,000 euros.  On Monday, she got her day in court, and 27-year-old Prince Salman Bin Faisal bin Mohammed Al Saud, who hasn’t set foot in France since the accident, was sentenced in absencia to a meaningless penalty: 6 months suspended sentence and 18 months interdiction in France.  It’s good to be king!

Nice-Matin: Accident a Cannes le prince Saoudien encourt six mois de prison avec sursis

UPDATE: This week a fine was added to the sentence:  5,000 euros punitive and a provision of up to 60,000 euros in medical and legal expenses.   But since the prince didn’t even bother to send a representative, the chances of him paying up is, once again, largely symbolic.

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Living it Up in Cannes

You’ve got to hand it to Pascal: for a homeless guy, he really thinks big!    A deluxe 4-star Cannes hotel, just off the Croisette and closed for the off-season, became the private VIP digs for Pascal and his friends after breaking into reception and finding the master key.   Large suites with comfy overstuffed furniture, cable movies on HD flat screens, mini-bars, Jacuzzis, terry cloth robes, cocktails on the rooftop terrace… everything but room service!   They graciously invited their friends to share their new found fortune,  “Let’s go to a hotel tonight; I’ve reserved a room!”

When the mini-bars were emptied they raided the kitchen and wine stockroom… all the while discretely creeping out just before dawn to avoid detection by office and maintenance staff that were still coming in to work.  After two weeks of living the life, yesterday they were finally tripped up: some of their guests left the party with a few too many ‘souvenirs’ (read: flat screen TVs) and eventually one of the maintenance men noticed and called the police.

It would seem that this two-week impromptu lifestyle switch imparted a taste for the good life because, as he was lead away by police, Pascal made a final request, couldn’t he just keep the electric shoe shiner?

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Watch for Falling Rocks (…In Town!)


While so much of Nice is getting a facelift (Place Garibaldi and MARMAC come to mind…), other areas are literally falling apart.  On Monday, part of the façade dropped off a building on rue de la Californie, and yesterday it happened twice:  once near the bustling Marche de la Liberation, where a 2-meter-long chunk of balcony fell on a restaurant terrace just before lunch, and then again in the afternoon in the Old Town on rue Sainte-Reparate.

Then on Saturday, a chunk of facade fell off the Boscolo Plaza Hotel around 17h30, crashing right in front of the hotel entry.  Luckily, no one was coming or going at that precipitous moment and the only casualty was the glass portico, which smashed dramatically all over the sidewalk.

Amazingly, in all of these cases, nobody was hurt… but everyone was definitely spooked:  it’s been just two months since 61-year-old Michel Garribo went to out get his morning baguette and was nailed in front of the bakery by an enormous block of falling balcony which killed him instantly.

The Latest Riviera Must-Have Fashion Accessory

The Latest Riviera Must-Have Fashion Accessory

According to the city’s engineers, this spate of urban projectiles is due to the heavy rains invading existing fissures and weakening the buildings.  An investigation has been opened, and the city has cordoned off all the affected areas.

In the meantime, if you’re going out to the sales, you might want to wear a helmet, which just might be the latest Riviera must-have accessory!

Nice-Matin: Encore un effondrement de corniche

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Crime in Nice: Up with your Hands!

Riviera armed robberies doubled last year, from 70 to 140.   The spectacular jewel heists make the news, but the real increase in crime in Nice was in the much less glamorous variety of corner store hold-ups perpetrated by down-on-their-luck losers.   The Nice-Matin interviewed one: ‘Christophe’, a 36-year-old ex-con with 40 local armed robberies to his credit.  Admitting that his improvised stick-ups were often a comedy of errors, he defends himself in that no one was ever hurt.  With a new perspective since having a child last year, he now wants to dissuade others from following in his ways… he says he was a complete idiot and never even considered the risks or consequences.

Admittedly, it’s a disturbing trend, but to help keep it in perspective, armed robberies are still relatively rare here in comparison to the US, where hold ups are so common that a well-worn bartender joke is to pull down the corkscrew of a wine opener and ask, “what’s this?”

Answer:  A cashier at the 7-Eleven.

Nice-Matin: Inquietante explosion des braquages sur la Cote d’azur

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Nice Bus Station Closed: Buses Scattered

The Nice Gare Routiere is finito: closed as of today, a date with the wrecking ball next week, and re-emerging a few years down the road as a lovely park.   Oh, but did I mention that the modern new Nice Bus Station near the airport (along with the new tramway line to service it) has not actually been built yet?

The interim solution (that is, for the next 5 years or so…) is to spread the bus stations out all over the place… that won’t be a problem, will it?   So starting today, take a compass, your cellphone, this summary, and a map when you forge out to go look for your bus:

Popular buses such as and Monaco/Menton, Antibes/Cannes, the Sophia Express, and Cimiez have all been dispersed within a few blocks of the old bus station, so whereas you won’t have to go far, it will still be a trick to find where your particular ride is hiding…

The Airport Express bus now leaves from… Riquier!   But don’t despair; it will make stops at the Port, Place Garibaldi, and Lycee Massena (just across from the old bus station) on its way.

The ski and mountain buses now leave from the train station.

The tram stop Vauban (Saint-Jean d’Angély) is the new home of Phocéen Cars (Nice-Marseille-Aix), the bus to Grenoble, as well as the bus to Eze, Peille, and all towns along the Paillon.

International buses, including Eurolines, can be found in the Arenas area at the Lindburgh stop, which is a 10 minute walk from both the Airport and the Nice St-Augustin train station.

Stop by the info desk in the old bus station (which will remain open until the final phase of the demolition) to pick up a map.  And if you have a smartphone, here is a link which could be mighty handy over the next few weeks…

UPDATE: for bus stop maps, routes and times click here:  Buses and Trams in Nice

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