Particularly if you’re traveling on your own in a new city, safety can be a big sticking point. So is Nice, France safe to visit?
Is Nice Safe to Visit?
As with any city, Nice in the south of France has its rough areas and its nice areas, but on the whole, Nice a very safe city to visit and to live.
Levels of violent crime are low and even thefts are dropping down due to the number of cameras in the city nowadays.
I live in Nice so I’ve got plenty of experience walking around the various parts of the city, and honestly, I do feel safe almost all the time, even when walking home late at night or going on walks by myself, which is a huge reason why I love living here.
Obviously, just the same as everywhere else, you have to be sensible, especially at night, but by and large, Nice is considered a safe city compared with other French and European tourist destinations.
Let’s break it down a bit further and find out how safe Nice really is and whether it’s safe for tourists.
Nice Has a Low Crime Rate
First things first, it’s important to know that compared to many French and wider European cities, Nice has an incredibly low crime rate, especially when it comes to violent crimes. Like any tourist hotspot, there is going to be some theft and pickpocketing, but when we look at the wider crime statistics, Nice is relatively low.
The crime rates look at the number of reported crimes and compare it to the population and the visitor numbers to determine how safe a place is. It’s categorized into different types of crime, whether it’s violent, drug-related, petty crime like pickpocketing, white collar crime, etc. So, the fact that Nice’s crime rate is low in most of these aspects is reassuring both for residents like me and for tourists visiting the area.
There Are Lots of Cameras
An interesting fact about Nice is that it’s the city in France with the most cameras. The sheer amount of security cameras largely serve as a deterrent for crime, especially in the more touristy areas. This was done as part of a wider city initiative to improve security and get that all important crime rate down.
It might feel like overkill with the amount of security cameras at times, but if something does happen, the chance that it’s on film as evidence is super high. So, it’s a two-prong approach: a deterrent and for gaining meaningful evidence. This is a huge part of why Nice is such a safe city to live in and to visit, especially compared to other port cities.
There Are Still Plenty of Pickpockets
Unfortunately, where there are tourists, pickpockets and opportunists usually follow, and Nice is no different. The majority of the pickpockets hang around tourist-heavy areas like the harbor and the Promenade des Anglais, so you might need to be more vigilant in these areas.
Of course, as with anywhere, and even when you’re in your hometown or city, it’s all about being sensible.
Don’t leave your bag open or unattended, keep your belongings close to your person and in a zipped-up bag. Don’t wear tons of flashy jewellery that might make you a target – all the normal common sense precautions.
Nice Has Low Rates of Violent Crime
While there are plenty of pickpockets and thieves around, the rates of violent crimes like assaults, muggings, and sexual assault are low in Nice. This is due in large part to the number of cameras around the city. It would be difficult not to get caught if you commit a violent crime, so people just don’t take that chance.
Of course, there are always exceptions that prove the rule and on occasion, violent crime can happen, the same as anywhere else, but by and large Nice is safe when it comes to violent crime, especially compared to neighboring Marseille which has more of a bad reputation.
There Are Low Rates of Drug-Related Crime
Similarly to the low levels of violent crime, there is a very low level of drug-related crime in Nice. This may be due to the surveillance levels around here or the fact that neighboring Marseille seems to have more of a monopoly on drug trafficking, especially across the Mediterranean.
While there are of course some instances of drug use across the city – after all with a population of one million people, statistically it’s bound to happen – Nice maintains a low drug-related crime rate. Again, it’s not unheard of, but drug crime is rare here.
There Are Still Some Shady Neighborhoods
Just as with any large city, there are some shady neighborhoods that tourists might want to avoid. For the most part, these areas aren’t near the city center, nor are they around the main sights, so if you’re coming in for a city break or on a cruise, you’re not likely to have a reason to visit these areas.
The “bad” areas are considered to be L’Ariane, Les Moulins, Nice Nord, and La Triaite, with pretty much all of them being in the North of the city, away from the touristy waterfront and quaint cobbled streets of Vieux Nice.
In fact, L’Ariane is considered so dodgy that many taxi drivers will flat-out refuse to drive you there. That being said, these are largely residential areas, so like I said, you’re unlikely to have a reason to visit these areas as a tourist.
If you stay in the main areas of the city center, you’re likely to be safe as a tourist as it’s mostly well-lit and there are tons of security cameras.
If you want to stay in an Airbnb or apartment in a more residential area for a more “authentic” Nice experience, you can find plenty of places by the harbor or Caucade, Pessicart Hill, and Cimiez, which are considered to be the “better” neighborhoods in Nice.
Like anywhere else, there are good and bad neighborhoods in Nice and most of the time it comes down to money and infrastructure, so Caucade, Pessicart Hill, and Cimiez are more affluent, so it’s considered safer there.
You Should Still Be Careful After Dark
Coming back to the common sense ways of traveling, you need to be careful walking around the city after dark. Even if you’re in the main tourist hotspots, Nice is famous for its labyrinth of back alleyways and cut-throughs that can feel sketchy at night.
If you can, stick to the well-lit, wider streets along Promenade des Anglais and the plazas around Vieux Nice. Many hotels and hostels are around these areas anyway, so you shouldn’t have to walk far. Of course, be vigilant, try and walk back with someone or share your location with someone if you’re heading back alone.
Part of the charm of Nice, especially the Old Town is the cobblestones and winding streets all lit up at night, so you definitely don’t want to miss out on this aspect of the city, just be mindful!
Watch Out in Touristy Spots
Although Nice isn’t as touristy as say Paris or Rome, there’s a pretty high concentration of tourist hotspots that if you’re visiting the city, you’re likely to check out. Where there’s a high proportion of tourists, there can be higher levels of theft, so again, take the necessary precautions.
Also, when you’re in more touristy areas, the prices for food, drinks, and excursions will take a big hike. Rent will be higher in these areas, so to make money, the businesses will definitely charge you a small fortune. It’s always a good idea to wander a few streets away from any tourist attraction and save yourself some money. My experience also says that chances are the food will also be better and more authentic. It’s a win-win.
Lock Your Car doors
A type of theft that’s actually pretty popular all around the Mediterranean, and has been for years, is car theft.
Now, these aren’t the kind of thefts when you’re parked up. It’s often when you’re stopped at a light or a busy intersection, people will either lean through your window or open your passenger door and steal your bag.
They’ll run off, you can’t abandon your car in the middle of traffic, so the chances of getting your stuff back are low.
So, if you’re thinking about hiring a car when you’re in Nice, or around the Mediterranean in general, make sure to lock your car doors when you’re driving, and keep the windows up and the air con on, if at all possible.
Another trick is to wrap the handle of your bag around your gear stick and keep a hand on the stick when you’re stopped. It means they can’t just easily yank the bag and go, which is the main point of this kind of theft.
Taxis and Public Transport
So, it seems that no matter where you go, taxis are always on the lookout for tourists who don’t know where they’re going, so that they can rip them off. This is not a problem that’s unique to Nice or even France in general, it’s a worldwide thing, but something to be aware of.
The public transport in Nice is pretty great and affordable, so the only time you’d need a taxi is either super early or super late. Make sure you agree on a price beforehand and check Google Maps for an estimated journey time so you can see if they’re taking any unusual routes.
Like I said, this happens literally everywhere that has tourists and taxis, so I wouldn’t necessarily say this contributes to Nice being an unsafe place to visit, but it’s always worth mentioning so you can come prepared when you do visit.
Again, not unique to Nice, but beach scams are on the rise in the area. As Nice’s beaches are some of the best places to kick back and relax in Nice, a lot of tourists flock to the shores every day. This provides a great opportunity for grifters and petty thieves to make their mark.
Currently, there has been an increase in group scams, where someone will come up and ask you for help or ask you a question to distract you while their friend steals your stuff.
The police and security in the area are aware of this and there is always some kind of law enforcement in the area, so it is being dealt with.
As per usual, don’t bring unnecessary valuables to the beach, and don’t leave your stuff unattended when you go into the sea.
If you’re traveling solo to the beach, come with minimal stuff and consider a waterproof pouch or bag for your valuables so you can enjoy the beautiful Mediterranean waters with some sort of peace of mind.
Traveling Solo in Nice
Speaking of traveling solo, Nice is largely a great place for solo visitors. The affordable public transport infrastructure, the walkability of the city, and the number of cheap hostels and AirBnBs make it an ideal spot for someone who wants to travel on their own.
Nice’s connections to other countries and cities via rail, bus, and air make it an ideal interrailing stop, especially to and from Italy. If you’re traveling solo and looking to make a stop on the French Riviera, Nice is likely to be the safest and most cost-effective option.
Monaco and Cannes are way more expensive, with fewer accommodation options, and according to the crime rate, Marseille is not super safe, especially if you’re traveling solo. Nice? It’s the best of both worlds!
Traveling as a Woman
Unfortunately, not every city in Europe is super safe for women, especially either on a solo basis or in an all-female group. Fortunately, Nice is considered extremely safe for women.
The low levels of violent crime help this massively, and the wide, well-lit promenades and touristy areas can be really reassuring.
A problem in a lot of cities around Europe is unwanted attention from men, especially on public transport or late at night – that’s not something that is very common around Nice.
Obviously, sometimes you might get catcalled on the tram by a drunk guy, but again, with the amount of surveillance in the city, women can feel relatively safe.
Of course, common sense says to walk home in a group if it’s late, share your location, and don’t get super wasted, but it’s all the kinds of precautions that we women would have to take no matter where we are in the world.
When it comes to earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and flooding, Nice is at a very low-risk level. It’s not on a fault line and the Mediterranean Sea is normally pretty calm this close to the shoreline.
Parts of the waterfront have been known to flood, but it doesn’t tend to be flash flooding, it’ll be after a long period of rain so you’ll know not to head down to that area. So, when it comes to natural disasters, Nice is safe to visit.
5 Safety Tips for Traveling in Nice
Even though, as we’ve established, Nice is a safe place to visit, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when you travel. These work for pretty much any place and a lot of them are common sense, but if they stop something bad happening or help you in a crisis, it’s worth the reminder!
1. Split Up Your Cash
If you’re traveling for a while or with a lot of Euros in cash, do not carry them all on your person in the same place or the same wallet. Split it up in different pockets, bags, leave some in the hotel safe or in a hidden suitcase pocket that’s locked away in your room.
Then if you lose your bag or wallet, you’re not without funds.
2. Don’t Have More Than Three Things
I follow this simple rule everywhere I travel, which is that keeping track of more than 3 valuable things while traveling is near impossible.
Basically, every time I try to carry more than three, something goes awry. Whether it’s dropping Jake’s phone off our scooter in Thailand or leaving my camera at the grocery store in Vietnam, when you’re traveling, your brain can only handle so much at once.
So if you have your phone, your camera, and your wallet, make sure you’re touching all three whenever you’re on public transport or in a touristy area.
If you are in charge of more than just that, even if it’s a water bottle or a souvenir, chances are you’ll get distracted and forget something or have it stolen since you weren’t paying attention.
So if you’re traveling in a group, make sure that everything is split up so not just one person is holding all the important things. Remember, no more than three things!
3. Have a Photocopy of Your Passport, or Bring an Alternate ID
If you’re going out on the town or are visiting somewhere that requires ID, I’d suggest bringing your driver’s license with you instead of your passport. If you lose your driver’s license, yes it’s annoying, but it’s not going to prevent you from getting out of the country.
Similarly, having a photocopy of your passport always helps in case your real one gets lost and you need to get a replacement on a tight deadline.
4. Get a Cheap Watch and Jewelry
I like to dress up as much as the next person, but when I travel, I leave my more expensive watches and jewelry at home. It makes you less of a target and if it does get stolen or lost, it’s less of a big deal.
5. Check Your Maps Before You Leave the Hotel
Nothing screams tourists more than unfolding a giant map in the street. Either check maps discreetly on your phone, swing into a nearby cafe and look there, or work out your route before you leave the hotel.
If you look like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing, you’re less likely to stand out to nearby opportunists.
So, Is Nice Safe?
So all in all, Nice is safe to visit for tourists and expats alike. In recent safety surveys, Nice actually came out as the safest city in France, with a ranking of 75/100. That’s insane for a city of this size with the number of tourists that flood through every year. For context, Paris scored 68 and Marseille scored 59.
Of course, no city is ever going to be 100% safe, but with the amount of surveillance, low levels of violent and drug-related crime, and the huge swathes of well-lit areas, Nice does all it can to make its residents and visitors feel safe.
So, if you’re planning on visiting France, why not choose to visit the safest place in the country? With museums, culture, beaches, great restaurants, and jaw-dropping coastal hikes, there’s so much to see and do in and around Nice. The fact that it’s the safest city in the country is just the cherry on top.