Before you land (and I cannot stress this enough) disable your Data Roaming! …It’s the classic rookie mistake, getting off the plane after a long flight and idly scrolling through Facebook while waiting for luggage… Cha-ching: $50! To disable on an iPhone you go to Settings, General, Network… and keep it off your entire trip.
The Nice Airport has free unlimited wifi, so just select AirportFreeWifi, then open your browser to accept the conditions… now you can Facebook and Instagram to your heart’s content…! This free wifi is really important if you want to save money over a taxi and take an Uber from the airport instead.
Free Wifi at the Nice Train Stations
Just choose the SNCF gare-gratuit network and you’re in.
Free Wifi all around Nice
In town, the city is providing free high-speed wifi at all tram stops, all along the Promenade du Paillon gardens, in Place Massena, Place Garibaldi, Cours Saleya, Palais du Justice, and around the Nice Tourist Offices (train station, Promenade des Anglais). Just choose the Spot Wifi Nice network, wait for the login page to pop up and then just click once… there is no logging in, just click ‘ok’ and you’re in. You will be automatically logged off after an hour, but you can sign back in for another hour as many times as you want. Unlimited.
The Nice Etoile Shopping Mall (right across from the Jean Médecin line one tram stop) offers free unlimited wifi, as does FNAC (books, music, café), and the the giant Gare du Sud food court right across from the Liberation tram stop.
Or for the price of a coffee, you can get on at one of the many Free Wifi Café Spots in Nice, and if you download the app it will store the location of the Wi-Fi hotspots on your phone so that you can also find them when don’t have internet access. Or download the WifiMapLite app , 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.
Note that when you pull up your list of available networks, you will probably see ‘FreeWifi’: this is NOT free, ‘Free’ is a misleading brand name and it’s only free… if you pay!
Smartphone Travel Tips
Download the Find My iPhone app before you go and test it. 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
Use your apps ahead of time in wifi zones: your apps will save the info you need even when you’re no longer connected. Look up your destinations on Maps, translate a bunch of phrases (with voice!) on Google Translate, search for free Wifi spots, Toilet Finder, train schedules, local entertainment and music guide, whatever… then as long as the app stays open, you will have access to all the information even if you are not connected. Click here for my list of Best Free iPhone Apps for Nice.
Offline maps: Did you know you can even 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 even get driving directions offline with that map!
Make all your phone calls through Facetime or Skype using the free wifi. With Facetime you are limited to other iPhone users, but with Skype you can also make calls to regular landline telephones and businesses anywhere in the world for only 2 cents a minute. Choose the Pay As You Go plan and pay for a $10 credit which gives you 500 minutes. Just tap ‘make a skype call’, choose the country you want to call, and dial!
The Pocket Wi-fi Hot Spot Alternative
The Nice Tourist office (and other tourist offices around France) have just started offering a great new service: a pocket mobile wifi hot spot with unlimited internet that you can rent by the day and connect up to 10 devices. It costs around 8€ a day.
You book it on-line in English, pick it up at the nearest tourist office when you arrive, it’s ready to go – just turn it on, and when you are done you pop it in the prepaid envelope and drop it in any French mailbox even at the airport. That’s it! And if you book through the link above, you get 5% off!
- Best Free iPhone Apps for Nice
- How to Stay Connected in France: Internet Data Deals and French SIM Cards
- Phoning from France
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Photo credit: I heart Nice smartphone coques by Zazzle.fr, Mobile wifi hot spot by Best of Nice