Better living through technology! Here are the best apps to put Nice at your fingertips… and they’re all FREE!
Your own personal translator: The free Google Translate App blows my mind: you can speak the phrase in English, and in 1 second it not only writes the equivalent phrase in French, but you push a button and your iPhone says it in a sexy French voice! It also does the regular typing translation too, which is very helpful for figuring out French menus.
Offline maps: Did you know you can use Google Maps offline when you have no wifi? On either iPhone or Android, just click the little person icon on the top right, then choose off-line maps, then choose ‘local’ or ‘select your own’. Once the map downloads, you can search anything (the closest ATM, restaurants, supermarket, shops, cafes, pharmacies…), and you can get directions offline with that map!
Toilet Finder: Since French restaurants and bars won’t let you use the facilities without buying something, this is one of the most handy apps to have! This app quickly directs you the closest public WC, if it’s free or not (as if…), and gives you a chance to rate it.
To help you with a different pressing need, download WifiMapLite, which will store the location of the WiFi hotspots on your phone so that you can also find them when don’t have internet access. The first time you use it, it will try to get you to upgrade, but just skip that and stay with the lite version. to Here’s more on finding free wifi in Nice.
What’s on in Nice? The free Sortir by Nice-Matin App provides up-to-date local entertainment listings including concerts, festivals, food and wine fairs, salons and expos, local cinema listings, and more. You can search a category or let it find what’s happening around you. The listings are in French, but it’s very visual, so easy to figure out even with limited French. For a more general idea, click my By Month pages…
Calling landlines: With the Skype app, you can call landlines anywhere in the world for pennies. This is especially helpful if you want to make local restaurant reservations.
Museum audioguides: Most museums in Nice don’t have audioguides, but the three that do have now gone to apps. Download the audioguides ahead of time for the Matisse Museum, and the newest one for the Modern Art Museum. (The Chagall Museum is only by QR codes)
Get in the mood with eclectic French radio: With FIP you never know what you will hear, be it jazz, obscure rock, world music, American 50’s, and everything in between… and it is subsidized by the French ministry of culture, so no ads. It’s broadcast from Paris and you can’t get it on the radio in Nice, but you can get it with the FIP App.
Best Apps for Getting Around
French Train Times: The best app is TrainLine EU, where you can get timing and prices for all trains in English, and even easily buy full fare tickets online. In the shorter term, the Ma Gare SNCF App shows you the current big board at your train station, so you can see when is the next train, or if your train is running late. Just choose your train station, then click ‘schedules’. For buying train discount passes, the SNCF App is easier than going to the train station, but it is in half-French half-English, so see my cheap train passes page to get walked through the process. Here are more tips for taking the train in Nice.
Mountain Train Audioguide App: If you are going to take the Train des Pignes to the mountains, download the free Chemin de Fer de Provence App for a guided tour (in English) along the train route, which will really enrich the voyage.
Italian Train Times: The TrenItalia App (in English!) gives you flexibility for coming back from market day in Ventimiglia or Sanremo, especially since Italian trains are almost always late, you can now know this before you get to the train station. Here is more on taking the train to Italy.
Buses: Download the Lignes d’Azur App which gives you itineraries, maps, and schedules in real time. Nice shares all bus info by open source to encourage app development, so you can also get the same info using Google Maps route planning feature, Moovit (in 35 languages!), Transit App, Zenbus, and others. If you’re new to Nice, here’s a few tips on taking the bus in Nice.
Share Bikes in Nice: The Velo Bleu App quickly tells you where the the closest share-bike station is hiding, but even better, it tells if they have bikes in stock and/or free places to leave a bike, which makes this app one of the handiest of the bunch. And for your first time with the Velo Blue, here’s a quick guide to how to use ’em. Or download the e-VeloBleu App which is only for the free-floating electric share bikes.
Nice Flight Arrivals and Departures: Whether you are flying out or picking someone up, with the free Nice Aeroport App you can check if the flight is on time with a simple click. Since the Nice Airport is the only one in the world that doesn’t have a huge sign to tell you which airline is in which terminal, this app is especially useful.
Best GPS App: For driving in France with clear driving instructions and current road conditions, the best GPS is the free France-focused Waze App…
Parking in Nice can be challenging, so get the free Parkopedia App not only finds the closest public parking lot, but gives you the rates and how full they are. And as gas stations have all but disappeared from downtown Nice, the free Essence Pas Chere App not only shows you where to find the closest filling station but lets you compare prices to find the best deal.
The Most Important App of All…
Peace of mind in an app: Petty crime is high in Nice, especially during the summer, and if, God forbid, you should get pick-pocketed or purse-snatched, or leave your phone on a taxi or bus, you will be SO happy that you got the free Find my iPhone App. It has given me instant calm in the midst of panic on numerous occasions. For other smartphones, Google’s Android Device Manager App will do the same thing.
…And a very handy non-app:
Best of Nice doesn’t have an app, but you can easily save this site to your homepage for easy access: when you’re on this site, just click the ‘share’ icon at the bottom of your phone screen, then choose ‘Add to Home Screen’.
- Free Wifi in Nice
- How to Stay Connected in France: Internet Data Deals and French SIM Cards
- Phoning from France
Back up to main Practicalities – Miscellaneous Page