Nice, France

Nice, the fifth largest city in France, is one of the jewels of the French Riviera. Located on the country’s balmy southern coast, the Côte d’Azur, the former Roman city bounced between French and Sardinian ownership until France took permanent ownership in 1860.

Nice, up the road from Cannes and Monaco, wraps around a Mediterranean bay and offers beaches, museums, walkways such as the heralded Promenade des Anglais and, of course, great night life. “For party animals, Nice is definitely the place for you,” said Krystynn, a visitor from Singapore. “Nice’s party crowd keeps on swinging long after the folks in St. Tropez and Cannes have gone home for the night.” Hash prices hover around 2 EUR per gram. Moroccan hash is far more prevalent in France than green bud, which can cost a little more. The French street slang for hash is “shit” and a “barette” is 10 grams. Pot is called “herbs” or “beu.” Be warned that “Chernobyl,” while touted to be a powerful strain of hash, is actually a nasty mix of cannabis that has been known to include toxic ingredients such as motor oil and shoe polish. As with most resort towns, the best way to find smoke in Nice is to keep your eyes, ears and nose open for people indulging down at the beach or some other remote spot. Otherwise, check out the clubs.

Nice has an abundance of nightlife. Krystynn suggested the disco inside the Negresco Hotel, as well as the clubs in the area of Rue Massena. Alexandre, a Nice resident, said La Suite, L4Ambassade and the Plasma Café are hot spots. Selene, another visitor, said the centre of Old Nice (Vieux Nice) is “rocking at night with everything possible.” She said must-see spots include Le Subway, The Bulldog and Les Trois Diables. Another notable is the Palousa, one of the biggest dance clubs on the Côte d’Azur, located at 29 Rue Alphonse Karr. For live music, a visitor named Wanja suggested the piano bar at Hotel Meridien at 1 Promenade des Anglais, the Latin and rock music of Blue Whales at 1 Rue Mascïnat, and the variety of bands at Chez Wayne located at 15 Rue de la Préfecture. She added there is gay and lesbian clubbing at Le Blue Boy, 9 Rue Jean-Baptiste Spinetta. <<>> This international resort’s sub-tropical climate makes it a year-round destination for anyone looking for a good time. One of the year’s highlights, however, is the wild Carnival in February. Another yearly event that fits well with a relaxing high is the Nice Jazz Festival in July, which attracts world-class talent. Although Nice is built for fun, visitors should keep in mind that France’s government takes a harsh stance on drugs. “No distinction exists between hard and soft drugs in French law,” explains pro-pot organization NORML. “In theory, all drug use is a criminal offence imposing a penalty of two months to one year in jail in addition to a fine of 53 to 1,625 EUR The group reports, however, that the courts are “flexible” in how they apply the law. Often judges will simply issue a warning if the defendant has been caught with an amount deemed for personal use. NORML explained that a 1978 order from the country’s justice ministry told prosecutors to take it easy on defendants brought in for cannabis. “The circular effectively decriminalized the use of cannabis leaf and resin in France,” NORML said. The attitude in France appears to be loosening further, with even members of Parliament admitting to past dabbling with soft drugs. Former Justice Minister Elizabeth Guigou said that periodic indulgence in a joint is “no tragedy.” However, many in France’s leadership are persistent in their public war against pot and hash. “Consuming soft drugs inevitably leads to hard drugs,” said President Jacques Chirac. “All serious people are aware of this.” A smoker named Goudvis had some practical advice for drug tourists who end up on the wrong side of the law. “If you do get caught, just play the dumb tourist. Tell [the police] you didn’t know it’s illegal in France and that you thought, and people told you, it’s legal throughout Europe,” he said. “They might keep you for a few hours or maybe even a night, but that’s just a scare.”