We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Speaking English In Nice.

Which Nice hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Manchester, United...
posts: 28
reviews: 2
Speaking English In Nice.

Hello, I'm planning to visit Nice for the first time next year, and I was wondering if many people speak English there?I will of course learn as much French as I can before as I go as I believe it's good manners to do so, but it would also be good to know that I could use my mother tongue if I get in a tangle!



Ipswich, United...
posts: 721
reviews: 26
1. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

Yes English is spoken almost everywhere, as you say good manners to hjave a go tho.

London, UK
posts: 5,658
reviews: 57
2. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

The vast majority of older people in Nice speak little or no English but many young people have at least a smattering and some speak it well. Staff in hotels and restaurants will often reply in English to your French unless they think from your pronounciation that you are fairly competent. My French is poor but my pronounciation is quite good so I sometimes get into difficulty as they think I will understand them speaking at normal speed, which I often don't. I find the best way of being treated well is to start conversations by apologising, in French, for the fact that I am so bad at the language.

Probably more important for the tourist is to try to conform with local culture by saying 'Bonjour Monsieur' or 'Madame' before you say anything else. It is considered very rude not to greet staff in shops, for example, in this way. I always do this when I board a bus and can see from the driver's face that they are thinking, 'Three cheers. A polite foreigner.'

London, UK
posts: 5,658
reviews: 57
3. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

I don't think Nice-regular and I are really disagreeing. Almost everyone in the tourist industry speaks at least some English but my experience is that the vast majority of other people speak little or none. When we owned a flat in Nice, of the twenty or so other owners only two spoke English and one of those was a retired Italian airline pilot. I have done quite a bit of DIY on that flat and on the one we own in Villefranche and it is an excellent way of learning French as no one in builders merchants, for example, has more than a few words of English.

posts: 3,271
4. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

As usual I concur with what Bob said. In fact it can be a bit annoying that you want to practice your French and you get replies in English. I have very little to add tp what Bob has said othane than many bus drivers do not speak English.

Antibes, France
posts: 5,026
5. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

I can confirm that to my certain knowledge there are expatriates who have not mananged to acquire a word of French despite 20 years here. Of course I cannot defend this but our globalised world of computers, SKy TV,CNN etc. assists this. You can find an English speaking plumber on your iphone in seconds.

In general though young people are educated to a high degree of English ( and maths, geography etc) . So are doctors, pharmacists, hotel staff etc , * but when you really need it - police, those bus drivers , ticket office staff, - you may find things more difficult.

* P.S. The yachtie community in Antibes is almost exclusively Australian speaking.


Avignon, France
Destination Expert
for Avignon
posts: 5,264
reviews: 76
6. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

While I'm one who always hopes that people will have the basics of polite exchanges in French ready to use, plus the type of friendly approach and smile which always seems to guarantee friendly aid, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't help at hand anywhere around Nice if it was needed. Many thousands of tourists visit the Nice area every year, and I'd be surprised if they didn't find English speakers to help out; not just people in pharmacies, hospitals, hotels etc. along with younger people in general.

In our small town in the Gard, a wide cross-section of people will speak English if it's really needed. We didn't discover that until after visiting for quite a number of years and owning property there for a few more. People such as those in the local newspaper shop, the greengrocer right in the centre, our favourite cheese man at the Saturday market (who, it turns out has a sister who is a professor of English at a French university) and many others - we found out by chance that they could speak English to varying degrees, certainly more than adequately to help out with purchases, directions etc.

My opinion - people are willing to help if it's needed, but it seems to be a matter of confidence with quite a few of them, plus good manners - why would they think they should push in with help if people are trying their best in a foreign language and mostly getting along fine? Even those who hold up fingers and shout in English while shopping at my favourite baker's shops won't find staff breaking in to English - not even the chap who was a chef at Eton college for a number of years!

We do get quite a lot of tourists, but nothing like on the scale of Nice; if there is so much English waiting in the wings in such a small place, it must apply to Nice too. I'm sure that Shaun399 will get on fine, especially as he's going to try to get to grips with learning some French over the next few months, which will help him to get the most out of his trip.

Manchester, United...
posts: 28
reviews: 2
7. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

Thank you all for your very helpful information.I'll try and at least master my AA French Phrase book before I go and I'll also bear in mind Bob's advice about greetings.

Thanks again.

posts: 3,271
8. Re: Speaking English In Nice.


In addition to the phrase book make sure you check pronunciation. I have seen many English-speaking people who think they are actually speaking French but they aren't really as their pronunciation is so poor.

posts: 1,910
9. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

Pronunciation is important in the sense that things are not pronounced as they are spelled, but I wouldn't get too worried about saying things perfectly.

I would recommend Coffee Break French, a free podcast that introduced key phrases in a way that you still understand how the language it put together. That way, you get examples of speaking as well as reading.

posts: 3,271
10. Re: Speaking English In Nice.

It is important if the French person you are talking to hasn't a clue what you are saying!