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The one word you need to know when shopping in France is ‘Solde’ which means sale! Sales are held twice a year around January and July. The dates are set every year by the French government. You can get reduced items in shops out of sale time; look for ‘promotion’ signs.
Shops in Nice are usually open Monday to Saturday from about 10am to 7pm , some will still close for lunch. Nearly all shops are closed on Sunday.
The Old Town will have more shops open throughout the summer for longer periods and some will be open on a Sunday. In December, Galeries Lafayette will often have a couple of Sunday openings for Christmas shopping.
The main shopping high street in Nice is Avenue Jean Medecin which runs the north-south length of the modern city centre. The tram line runs right along the centre of the road and cars are not allowed on certain sections, and as the boulevard is wide with many new trees it is a pleasant place to stroll. There is the usual selection of shops and services lining the road selling shoes, clothes, jewellery, sports goods, luggage, a large Virgin Megastore , various banks and cafes/fast food etc. The French high quality (and price) department store, Galeries Lafayette , close to Place Massena is worth a browse and is handy for a loo stop (2 nd and 3 rd floor) Further along avenue Jean Medecin is Nice Etoile a small indoor shopping mall with 2 floors of shops and cafes and a large Habitat . If you like techie shopping FNAC just beyond Monoprix is full of the latest gadgets and has an excellent book section with a decent selection of publications in English too. Between Nice Etoile and Galeries Lafayette is a large branch of the smart French make-up and perfume store Sephora, their own brand make-up range is excellent and very good value and the staff are helpful and generous with free samples. Beyond Nice Etoile is a large branch of Monoprix , a general supermarket selling own brand cheap clothes and accessories as well as food and alcohol. Under the arches and close to Place Massena is Go Sport , 3 floors of sports-gear and on the opposite side of the road is the excellent La Maison de la Presse selling international newspapers, books (a small selection in English) and various guide books and maps. If you make it up as far as Liberation -hop on and off the tram - there is a great market plus several excellent small restaurants. The old railway station is currently waiting for a massive redevelopment but it is still an impressive facade.
More shops and restaurants are to found on rue Massena, off avenue Jean Medecin. Worth mentioning is the essential t-shirt shop Petit Bateau , a children’s shop but the older sizes (ages 14, 16 and 18 and sizes p m and g) will fit adults, the t-shirts are plain, well-fitting and good value. A great source of low-cost, high-bling jewellery can be found at Arrato , next door to the Mirador restaurant and opposite the Maori café and restaurant. Look for the crowd of bored husbands and boyfriends waiting outside. A deli-style take a ticket and wait system is in operation and all the stock is behind glass like museum pieces, you have to have point out your choices to the staff. Prices start from under 1 euro; many pieces are around 5 euros. Be prepared to wait and don’t expect the jewellery to last forever.
For designer shopping, turn into rue Paradis off rue Massena and follow the road to the end, then left onto avenue de Verdon and back to Place Massena. Along these two roads you will find Chanel , Armani , Hermes , Max Mara , Sonia Rykeil , Louis Vuitton etc. The staff are friendly and helpful. Definitely worth a look if you have babies or young children is the wonderful Bonpoint , exquisite clothes but very expensive. Find some wonderful bargains here during the sales.
Just up from Rue Paradis is rue Alphonse Karr which has several individual and chic shops including Desert and Poles selling a big selection of designer clothes. Many of the shops along Karr reflect the individual taste of their owners who select their stock from a range of smaller french designer labels and offer a great opportunity for inspirational window shopping.
From the end of Avenue de Verdon, cross over the gardens at Jardin Albert 1er and onto rue St Francois de Paule, the start of the Old Town . Along this road you will find the famous chocolate shop Auer for chocolate-covered almonds and candied fruit and the locally produced olive oil shop, Alziari.
The Old Town is another good area for shopping, more interesting than the modern city centre. There is the main market of the Cours Saleya which sells food (fruit, vegetables, cheeses, spices, olives etc) and flowers in the mornings Tuesday to Sunday and antiques and bric a brac on Mondays. In the evenings in the summer, more touristy gifts and souvenirs are sold, look out for the local stuff; glass earrings hand-made in Cannes and brightly coloured leather bags and purses hand-stitched in Nice.
Once out of the Cours Saleya, it’s a matter of wandering around the narrow streets of the rest of the Old Town and exploring. Try this circular route: from the end of the Cours Saleya, head left and onto rue Droite. This will take you past several art galleries. One of the nicest is the tiny atelier of Sylvie T , a local artist who produces beautiful pen and ink watercolours of local scenes. You can buy postcards for a couple of euros or an original etching for about 400 euros. Opposite is the Palais Lascaris – museum shops are always a good source of original presents. If you continue along rue Droite and out of the Old Town at Place Garibaldi, the shop at MAMAC , the modern art museum has a small collection of interesting, unique, quirky presents.
At the end of rue Droite turn sharp left and make your way back to the Cours Saleya via rue du Collet, rue de la Boucherie and rue du Marche. There are dozens of tiny shops along these pedestrian roads selling clothes, jewellery, leather, shoes etc a lot of it is quite cheap and cheerful. Look out for Po Di Re - an excellent source of leather gloves, belts, bags and purses in every colour. Look out also for Cabana (just along from Wayne's Bar)which has an interesting range of goods from scarves and cashmere jumpers to unusual wine glasses and even chandeliers, all reflecting the eclectic and very stylish taste of the young American owner.
Other shops close to the Old Town that are worth a visit are Agnes B (French modern and classy) on rue des Ponchettes, L’Habit Magique (handmade linen and silk simple designs) and Cop Copines (edgy and youthful) both on rue de la Prefecture and a branch of the smart nautical clothes-wear shop Saint James by the Port. And while you're by the Port L'Atelier du Croco a studio/shop on Rue Emmanuel Philibert (chic and unusual jewellery and leather goods made from stingray, crocodile, lizard etc) is a must see.
Out of town, the large indoor mall, Cap3000 in St Laurent du Var just west of Nice airport has two floors of the usual shops including a large La Redoute and a branch of Galeries Lafayette , larger and selling a different range of goods to the store in Nice. Teenagers could spend hours browsing the trendy exclusive range of back to school/college pens and paraphernalia. Most of the French high street chains are here plus a branch of Mango. Cap3000 is accessed via a number of buses from Nice for 1, 30 euros.