Emergencies in Nice

Emergency number 112In a blink of an eye, a fall or a theft can completely derail your vacation plans.  Here is how to take the necessary steps while minimizing the disruption to your trip.

1-1-2 is the French equivalent of 9-1-1: an all-purpose emergency number and is in French and English.  To reach a specific service, call 15 for a medical emergency, 17 to report a break in, petty theft, or suspicious activity, 18 for a fire.

Medical Issues

To find an English speaking doctor in your area, call the Riviera Medical Services hotline at 04 93 26 12 70 (from a foreign cellphone dial 00 33 4 93 26 12 70)

For 24/7 housecalls (yes, they still do that here and it’s only around 80€), call 04 93 52 42 42 (00 33 4 93 52 42 42) or SOS Medecins at 04 93 85 01 01 (00 33 4 93 85 01 01), but in both cases they may or may not speak English.

If you want to go to the emergency room but don’t need an ambulance, you can  take the tramway to Hospital Pasteur(it’s the last stop on the tramway line, 15 minutes from the Old Town, but you have to then walk 5 minutes uphill to get to the entrance) or call a taxi to take you at 04 93 13 78 78 (from a foreign cellphone you’d dial 00 33 4 93 13 78 78), or better yet order an Uber on your smartphone (half the price of a taxi and easier to communicate with, and payment is easier).

The closest private hospital ER (nearer the train station and downtown Nice) is at the Clinique Parc Imperial, 28 Boulevard du Tzarewitch.  The best private hospital is a little farther away, up in the chic neighborhood of Cimiez: Clinique Saint George  2 ave de Rimiez.

For anything pediatric (children up to 15 years and 3 months), go only to Hopital Lenval on the Promenade des Anglais at 45 ave de la Californie (tram stop Lenval), as children will not be accepted at these other hospitals (which I found out the hard way!) and you will simply be redirected to Lenval.  The seaview Hospital Lenval is where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt chose to have their twins, by the way.

For dental, stick a clove (clou de girofle) on it (or ask for clove oil at the pharmacy), which will give you time to find an English speaking dentist.  There is an dental ER clinic just up the hill from the Nice Port at 28 blvd de Riquier, 04 92 03 32 70 but it is only open during business hours M-F (and closes for lunch!), so for evenings and weekends just go straight to Hospital Pasteur ER (tram stop Pasteur), or call 04 93 03 32 82 to find a dentist on-call.

Even if you have no insurance, whatever you have done in France will cost a fraction of what it would in the U.S., so don’t hesitate.

Pharmacy signMost pharmacies close at 7pm, but there is one just off Place Massena that stays open until 9pm: 46 Jean Jaures.  There are two all-night pharmacies in Nice: one’s at 7 rue Massena, 04 93 87 78 94, and the other is across from the tram stop near the train station at 66 ave Jean Médecin (Tram stop: Gare Thiers).   Outside of Nice, go to www.3237.fr to find a late-night pharmacy near you.  The site is only in French, but simple enough to use even without speaking the language: just enter your zip code and click on what time you want to go.

Dealing with a Theft

Who to call:  For a medical or fire emergency, call 112.  This number also works from cellphones and is in French and English.

For a break-in, mugging, or just to alert the police to suspicious activity, the city has instituted a new hotline, call 17.

Reporting the crime: Unlike in America (where the police come to you, write up the report, and, boom, you’re done), here the police only show up if it is a dire emergency.  If you call the police to report a crime, they will just direct you to go to the Commissariat to make a report, which will take half your day but is necessary if you need documentation for insurance, or want to have any chance of the perp being caught and punished.  The hassle in reporting is one reason that the crime statistics in France are artificially low.

  • Insider tip: Most locals don’t even know about this yet, but if you speak French or have someone that can help you (or even resort to Google Translate if you have to), a new service now allows you to file your report online, which is a massive time-saver.  You will still have to go by the Commissariat at some point to sign the report, but they will give you an appointment time and it will take only 5 minutes instead of many hours.

If you can’t file the report online, the closest Commissariat in Nice is at 1 Avenue Maréchal Foch. Bring a book.

If you have a car, another insider tip is to go to the much less crowded Saint Augustin Commissariat just inland from the airport at Chemin de la Digue de Français, building 43 (near the sports stadium Charles Ehrmann): your effort will be rewarded with shorter wait times, more attentive service, and your crime will be taken more seriously.

In a few years, there will be a new police commissariat right across from Old Nice, in the very centrally and conveniently located old hospital Saint-Roch location.

Reporting stolen credit cards:  To report a stolen credit card, call Visa Global Assistance at 0800 901 179 (from a foreign cellphone you’d dial 00 33 800 901 179),  Mastercard at 0800 901 387 (00 33 800 901 387), and American Express at 01 47 77 72 00 (from a foreign cellphone you’d dial 00 33 1 47 77 72 00) or for lost or stolen Amex Travelers Checks it’s 0800 832 820.   The local American Express office at the airport will provide cardholders with emergency cash.

The Lost and Found (Objets Trouves) is at 42 rue Dabray, 04 97 13 44 10.  If you have been the victim of a purse snatching it is worth it to check here as the thieves often just grab the cash and toss the purse and everything else in it; if someone then finds it they would normally take it to the police and it would end up at Objets Trouves.

If your passport is stolen, a day of your vacation has just been stolen as well.  Since the US Consulate in Nice closed a few years ago, now to get an emergency temporary replacement passport you have to go to the U.S. Consulate in Marseilles, which is 2 1/2 hours each way by train or car.

5 Easy Ways to Protect Yourself

  • While in Europe, empty your your wallet/purse of things that you don’t need to carry with you: photos, address book, agenda, unnecessary ID and cards, etc.   These things are a pain in the ass to replace, and are often a worse loss than the money.
  • Unless you are checking into a hotel, changing money, or going to a casino, don’t carry your actual passport with you, carry a copy.
  • In a sidewalk café, put one purse strap under the leg of your chair, and don’t set your wallet or phone on the table or it could get whisked away in a blink of an eye.
  • In the tramway, or any crowded place, keep a hand on your wallet, and your backpack in front.  These guys are good: your wallet will be gone and you’ll never even feel it.
  • Don’t be fooled by the petition scam, ring scam, etc., and give gypsies a wide berth.
  • If you rent a car, be sure to immediately lock your doors from the inside (opening the passenger door in parking lots and at stoplights and snatching the purse/wallet/phone is an unfortunate local specialty… it even happened to the Mayor!)

See related page: Crime and Scams in Nice 

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