France, and especially the Riviera, is an expensive destination. Part of the problem is the value-added tax (VAT -- called TVA in France), which tacks between 6% and 33% onto everything. If you need to exchange currency, do so at a bank, not a currency exchange desk, hotel, or shop. The easiest and best way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (automated teller machine), also known as a cash machine or a cashpoint. In French they are called a guichet automatique or a distributeur de billets. ATMs are very common and easy to find in all cities, towns, and major villages in Provence and the Riviera. As they are outside of banks, they can be accessed at all hours. The Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (tel. 800/843-7587; www.visa.com) networks span the globe. Go to your bank card's website to find ATM locations at your destination. Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Note: Fees for international transactions can be extortionate. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/currency/converter to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Credit cards are another safe way to carry money and they generally offer relatively good exchange rates. Visa (known as Carte Bleue in French) is the most common credit card in France, but most international credit cards are widely used. In an attempt to reduce credit card fraud, French credit cards are issued with an embedded chip and a PIN to authorize transactions. Most credit card transactions are done with handheld machines which might not be able to read U.S. and Canadian cards. Non-French cards (which don't have a chip) do work but they print a slip that requires a signature. You can withdraw cash advances from your credit cards at banks or ATMs but high fees make credit card cash advances a pricey way to get cash. Keep in mind that you'll pay interest from the moment of your withdrawal, even if you pay your monthly bills on time. Also, note that many banks assess a 1% to 3% "transaction fee" on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency).
There are still shops, restaurants and bars, often family run, that don't accept credit or debit cards, so it's always good to both check in advance and have cash on you. The minimum amount you have to spend to use a credit or debit card is slowly decreasing, but in some shops and bars, again often smaller businesses, it can be as high as 15€.
For help with currency conversions, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools To Go icon.
What Things Cost in Nice -- Euro (€)
Taxi from the airport to central Nice 22.00-32.00
Bus ride within the city center 1.00
Double room, very expensive (Hôtel Negresco) 245.00-615.00
Double room, moderate (Le Dortoir) 100.00-200.00
Double room, inexpensive (Villa La Tour) 48.00-139.00
Lunch for one without wine, expensive 25.00
Lunch for one without wine, inexpensive 13.00
Dinner for one without wine, very expensive 90.00
Dinner for one without wine, inexpensive 14.00
Glass of wine in a cafe 4.00
Cup of espresso 3.50
Admission to most museums free
Admission to the Opéra de Nice 12.00-78.00
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.