Travel Focus Book – Now in Paperback!

paperback cover SSS


A comprehensive, travel information book that focuses on the French Riviera. Includes concise transportation information, itinerary suggestion, website links, cultural tips, my personal recommendations, a recipe from my French family, and much more – even a visit to a village house.  Information at your fingertips, to easily access what you need to know and the savoir-faire for how to navigate the Côte d’Azur!

” When I realized I would see that light every morning, I could not believe my happiness … I decided never to leave Nice and remained here for my almost my entire existence.”                         Henri Matisse

View Book Trailer here

Paperback & E-book at:  Amazon

Paperback at:  Createspace

Note:  Ebook has a different cover image

An unexpected Nice sighting: Crime and Scam Alert

Yes, it’s that time of year (July & August) when Nice is packed with tourists, and so, the pickpockets, thieves, and scammers are actively in ‘business.’  Unbelieveably, my friend who had her wallet stolen on a bus, was on bus #9 and saw the same “serial pickpocket” with his modus operandum of a jacket slung over his arm — No way has it been eight months since we were in court (see linked article)!

As in any big city anywhere, petty theft occurs on unsuspecting tourists, and Nice is no differentv– the most prevalent crimes are:

1. Gold necklaces are yanked from ladies’ necks, since the price of gold is high.  Best to leave your jewelry at home!

2. Gold ring scam: Someone will pick up a gold ring and approach you, assuming that you have dropped it; he suggests that you keep it anyway, since it has value, in return for a gesture of giving him money.  The best thing to do is to just walk away or offer to contact the police about the lost ring.

3. Pickpockets – one man I know had just withdrawn 400 Euros from a cash machine and had his wallet taken from his pants pocket (no, he didn’t feel a thing!)  Purses should be worn slung across your body, backpacks worn on the front in crowded areas, and wallets not in pants back pockets. Be especially alert on crowded buses and trams.

4. Vol à la portière – In heavy traffic, or at red lights, the target is a purse, computer, or camera that can be easily grabbed by opening the car door or breaking the side window. Best to keep doors locked and items out of sight. (The below link shows an unusually aggressive incident)
vol a la portiére    (Video link)

Nice is generally a safe city with about 400 video cameras in place, so don’t be afraid to come enjoy the French Riviera — just be aware of your surroundings and be “city smart”!

New Laws for Noise in Nice

Nice is especially active and lively during this time of year, and………..well, decidedly noisy: buses, scooters and motorcycles, honking cars, tourists, and miscellaneous city sounds! The Mayor’s office recently passed three new laws, in an effort to diminish the noise pollution levels and enforce public orderliness, for the city of Nice.

1. From 8:00PM to 5:00AM, the consummation of alcohol is forbidden in the streets, main city squares and city gardens, as well as on Nice beaches.

2. Street performers (musicians, statue-pantomimes, etc.) must now obtain authorisation from the head of the Mayor’s cultural department, with further location-type restrictions: only 8 in the city center; permitted only in the southern end of Massena, Garibaldi, Rossetti, Palais de Justice in the Old Town, Place Magenta and Grimaldi in the pedestrian zone, Pierre Gautier, et Charles Felix — but only between 12:00 Noon and 2:00PM and 5:00PM to 10:00PM

3. With up to 34 marriage ceremonies taking place on any given Saturday in the summer, the after-wedding car parade celebrations, with music, honking and yelling, will be limited by the mayor’s office to try to avoid excess city noise. A silent fake wedding was staged in protest, just outside the Mayor’s office, with the bride, groom, and guests having tape over their mouths.

While the above new laws may be justified, it will be interesting to see if they will be respected and/or adhered to……………… of now, the jury is still out!

Source: Nice Matin newspaper

Top 5 in Nice — To do/see & To be street smart

5 Things to See/Do in Nice:

1 – Old Town: Cours Saleya daily food/flower Market (Monday is antiques) & Palais Lascaris

2 – Place Massena & its Apollo fountain

3 – Negresco Hotel: tourists are prohibited from the main entrance — but, you can have a drink at the hotel bar, called Le Relais (separate entrance on rue Rivoli next to the main hotel entrance) and then exit through the hotel lobby to see it and to stroll discreetly through the surrounding areas (i.e. Versailles Room and central domed room & shops)

4 – Fenocchio Ice Cream in Place Rossetti, with its 94 ice cream flavors (fruits/vegetables/flowers) to choose from (there are other ice cream shops that use a similar name, which can confuse tourists)

5 – Place Garibaldi: reknowned for its array of building frescos, outdoor cafes, and oyster bars; the nearby port has been revamped and is a lively area to stroll around, as well.

5 Things to be Aware of in Nice:

1 – Nice is relatively safe, but as in any city, be aware of your surroundings, especially if you must walk alone late at night.

2 – The area around/behind the Notre Dame church (situated on Jean-Medecin) can be disconcerting, especially at night.

3 – Pickpockets target foreigners, especially on crowded public transportation. Keep car doors locked and windows up while driving to avoid car theft, with someone breaking the window to grab your purse/bag and driving off (rental cars are especially targeted while stopped at red lights) – do not keep your purse visibly on your lap or on the seat!

4 – Taxi scams can occur when the driver discreetly resets the meter, just before reaching your destination; always look at the meter reading when you get in and immediately ask for a receipt, which is a deterrant. My personal recommendation is to use “Friend in France” – an English speaking, reliable, and honest taxi service.

5 – Avoid the unexpected: do your research/homework before arriving, to know bus/train schedules, museum hours, etc.

* If you have a specific question, feel free to add a comment and/or E-mail me.

ALL RISE! (LEVEZ-VOUS!): A crime in Nice

Last August, I was at the National Police station, and two weeks ago in a courtroom at the Palais de Justice – No, I wasn’t arrested by the pooper-scooper patrol in Nice!

It all started with having lunch with two lady friends, after which I wanted to go look at shoes (yes, I’m a shoe-aholic!). So there we were, on a city bus chatting away, but noticed a young guy standing close-by – noticed because he accidentally stepped on one of my friend’s foot – it was nothing serious and apologies in French were exchanged.

We were getting off the bus, at the corner of Galeries Lafayette department store, when one of my friends noticed her purse was unzipped and wallet gone. Thinking the perpetrator was still on the bus, I started pounding on the bus door, so the driver wouldn’t pull away. Then, one of us noticed the same guy (who was next to us on the bus) had also gotten off at this stop and was just standing around, like he was waiting for someone or another bus.

I approached him and yelled at him, asking if he had stolen my friend’s wallet and, of course, he said no. By then, the small crowd that was waiting at the bus stop began to wonder what was going on (one lady even took this guy’s photo with her phone). I then asked the guy to turn around, thinking he had the wallet in the back pocket of his jeans, and he (surprisingly) obeyed! As he was turning, and as the jacked that was draped over one wrist moved ever so slightly, my friend saw her wallet in his hand. Just then, as I was explaining to two nearby French men what was going on, the guy took off running up the sidewalk.

Immediately, a Galeries Lafayette security guard (who just happened to be standing outside the store’s side entrance) gave chase after the guy, who by now, was somewhat far ahead. As (more) luck would have it, this guard noticed, and yelled up ahead to, one of his colleagues who was coming on duty walking towards the running guy – the assailant was nabbed and the two guards escorted him into the store’s private back room (I assume where they hold accused shoplifters) and called the police. We waited and waited…..

So much for shopping for shoes! Our afternoon was blown, as all this took a lot of time – this IS France, after all! Next, our friend had to go to the police station to file a report (she rode in the same police car as the perpetrator, with lights flashing and siren wailing, while my other friend and I had to take the tram and find the National police headquarters.

FAST FORWARD: Two weeks ago was the court date for my friend to testify against the accused “serial pickpocket,” who had also given a false name – no surprise there! I offered to go with my friend: as a witness, for moral support, and for interpreting purposes – the court doesn’t provide translators. We were there with a lot of other people, victims and perpetrators alike, all sitting on hard benches, waiting for our case to be called. It was chaotic and noisy, with attorneys and courtroom staff talking all at once to the judge and milling about, all in black robes with fuzzy white poms-poms hanging around their neck and click-clacking shoes – the acoustics were terrible, which made it doubly hard to understand.

Suddenly, our guy entered the room with a woman, but after quietly speaking with one of the courtroom officials while another case was being debated, he left – what the hell was going on? We had already waited an hour or so, and the court had even been adjourned for 15 minute (a coffee/cigarette break? – this IS France, after all!)

When the court came back into session and a case was being heard, I crouched over to the same official to ask why the guy had left and was told he needed to go get a document, and we needed to wait. So, having no choice, we listened to a few petty crime cases with the judge handing out sentencing, as well as two serious crime cases where the accused had already been held in prison – these guys were brought out in handcuffs, escorted by a couple of policemen, and had to stand behind a plexiglass, screened area on the right side of the courtroom – the funny thing was – it wasn’t that high in front and these guys could have jumped over it in no time to get to the judge!

Finally, ‘our’ guy came back in and the case was called. We all had to go up front where my friend positively identified the guy as the one who took her wallet, and (with my translating) gave a resume of events on that August day. The guy’s defense was telling the judge that he didn’t know who he was, where he was born, and that he had been adopted by gypsies who made him steal – all he wanted was to work and live a normal life with his wife (apparently the lady who was with him). The judge then asked him where he worked, to which he answered that he didn’t have a job, to which the judge gave a “of course” type smirk.

The judge then continued to read outloud this guy’s long rap sheet of pick pocketing crimes, with quite a few done on public transportation (seen as criminally more serious). The guy again repeated his sob story, with tears in his eyes, trying to emotionally sway the judge – who obviously wasn’t buying any of it, sentencing the guy to eight months in prison and thanking my friend for doing her civic duty in showing up to testify. I have to admit, we both felt a little bad for the guy (we are human, after all), but also felt vindicated and proud we persevered!

We never did get to shop for shoes that day, and next time, we’ll WALK!