The playmaker fell out of favour with both Newcastle and Hull, who ended his loan spell early after coach Steve Bruce was unimpressed with the player’s attitude – and his contract at St James’ Park was terminated on Sunday.
The 27-year-old has signed an 18-month contract with Nice and been handed the number four shirt, marking his return to France almost four-and-a-half years after leaving Marseille for the Premier League.
Ben Arfa revealed he spoke with club director Julien Fournier, under whom he worked at Marseille, and close friend Mathieu Bodmer before joining them at Nice.
He told sources: “I also spoke to the coach [Claude Puel], I liked his integrity and his approach to football and within ten minutes, my choice was made. Even if Real Madrid had called at that moment, my mind was made up!
“There are people here who trust me, who do not judge me as some people want to judge me through the press.
“I wanted to return to France, where I grew up. At Nice, I think I can express myself. I am coming here to enjoy myself, to help the club improve with my qualities, and to win.”