Crime in Nice
Located on the South East coast of France, Nice is the second largest French city along the Mediterranean coast. Around 4 million people visit the city every year, as a result, Nice has the 3rd busiest airport and the 2nd largest hotel capacity in the country.
Although Nice is deemed a relatively safe place, during the hours of darkness certain areas can become more prone to criminal activity. The overall picture for crime in Nice isn’t too flattering, with around 33,000 crimes reported every year. There are many transient people/Roma gypsies inhabiting the area, whole families living in vans around Nice. This is a growing problem here.
Gun crime remains relatively low in Nice despite the fact that France has one of the highest levels of civilian gun ownership in Europe due to a more relaxed gun law compared to that of the UK.
Prostitution is very apparent on the main ‘Promenade des Anglais’ and the western side of the city. Although this type of activity is not seen as a direct threat to visitors in the city, it tends to be an area of increased crime. If you should walk through these streets at night, always ensure that you never walk alone.
As with most cities across Europe, petty crime is not uncommon in Nice. Pickpockets are operating across the city and they tend to target popular tourist locations. Thieves are known to ride around on scooters which will allow them to ride up close enough and snatch your bag, iPhone or watch.
Pickpockets rarely work alone, and often adopt the ‘crush’ technique which involves a member ‘crushing’ against you in a crowded environment whilst another member of the gang reaches for your belongings. When carrying bags/purses, be sure to wear them across the body.
Organized thieves are known to stalk their victims from a safe distance before snatching their bag and making their getaway on an unregistered scooter. The aim of this type of crime is to catch the victim off-guard and they usually grab your bag or jewelry and vanish in a matter of seconds.
Car Door Grab
Nice is also infamous for another kind of street robbery known as the Vol a la Portere, or the Car Door Grab. This usually occurs at traffic lights or in a car park and involves the victim’s car door being forcibly opened and having their valuables snatched. Tourists in rental cars are often the target of this type of crime. On one occasion even the local Mayor had an attempted ‘vol a la portere’ when he was parked on the promenade!
It is not advisable to drive around Nice due to the high degree of traffic and the inability to park; however, if you are driving around Nice, be extra cautious when stopping your vehicle, in particular at red lights. Thieves have been known to pull up alongside your vehicle whilst on a scooter and steal any belongings on show (this even happened to Nice’s mayor!); hence the advice would be to keep all personal belongings out of sight and keep your doors locked at all times.
Theft on Public Transportation
Towards the end of an evening, railway stations can become a criminal hotspot; in particular the West side of the city (Nice – Cannes – Marseille) known for its bad reputation, many of the stations are un-manned and often empty after around 10pm therefore anyone travelling alone would be highly vulnerable.
Pickpockets are very active on the trams/trains and in tourist areas. They operate in groups, usually offering to help you buy a ticket, to distract you and then take what they can. Here’s a tip from a reader: “If anyone comes up to help you, especially young girls, they are not being friendly at all – I am in Nice on holiday at the moment and one of them offered to ‘help me’ buy my train ticket from the automatic train distributor at the train station. She took my credit card out of my pocket when I boarded the train, within 5 minutes they had tried to withdraw €300 from a bank machine.”
Check out our expert tips about how to avoid crime on the French Riviera, and learn about gassings and home invasions.
Here is a detailed crime analysis, broken down by city: