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Travel Agony Aunt

The best way to visit Nice and its surroundings without a car

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Travel Agony Aunt received the following question from a traveler in agony:

Dear Travel Agony Aunt,
We are experienced travelers, speak French, but are now facing the age problem in car rentals. We have rented before in Italy and France, but now need to know if day trips are available in Nice or whereabouts that are affordable, or should we just go with a packaged tour. We do not want a huge bus type tour, but can’t afford a driver. I am 75 and my husband 79, spry and no health problems. JPW from Florida

Dear JPW,

There are plenty of great day trips from Nice, such as Grasse, Antibes or Vence, and several private tourism companies operate half-day excursions and full-day sightseeing tours almost every day. When booking your accommodation in Nice check if the hotel arranges excursions for guests. It could be a great solution, but since you speak French and don’t have any health problems, you might want to visit Provence and the French Riviera without taking a group tour. Not only is it definitively cheaper, it is also a good way to meet the locals and explore the region with its picturesque villages and stunning landscapes at your own pace, and without the bother of driving and parking.

A few years ago I spent a wonderful holiday in the South of France. I booked a hotel in Nice, I had no car and, believe me, it was very easy to get around Nice and reach the cities and tourist attractions close by.

Nice has several train stations : Nice Ville, Nice Riquier, Nice St. Augustin, and Nice St. Roch. “TGV” high-speed trains and “TER” regional trains run frequently, and all the major cities on the French Riviera are connected by the efficient rail link racing from Cannes to Vintimiglia, Italy. For some destinations such as the lovely seaside resort of Villefranche-sur-Mer, traveling by train is probably the most convenient option. You can find information on fares and train schedules on SNCF web pages.

Traveling by coach allows you to reach small villages and sites of interest, such Eze or St.Paul de Vence, that have no train station. From January 2008, a one-way ticket (“Ticket Azur”) between Nice and any destination through the TAM local bus network costs only 1 euro. It is also an excellent option for getting to Monte Carlo : the ride on the new 100 Xpress line is only 30 minutes and, if you are feeling lucky and want to spend the evening gambling at Monte Carlo Casino, a night coach service (“Noctambus”) is also available. To check bus routes and timetables visit TAM‘s website.

I hope all these information will be useful.

Happy vacation in Nice!

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7 responses to “The best way to visit Nice and its surroundings without a car”

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  1. Vancouver Dodge says:
    April 1st, 2011 at 04:07

    I went to Nice last year with my partner and I personally think that a car is a travelling staple when it comes to going around places. After reading your recommendation though, I kinda want to try out using local transfer options the next time we’ll schedule another vacation in Nice, although it would be a big change for me.

  2. Stacie Smith says:
    April 3rd, 2011 at 08:53

    Great advice my dear Travel Agony Aunt. A good command of French would facilitate well your tour of Nice. The people there are so tourist friendly and they have great respect for senior citizens. Nevertheless, staying in a hotel that has a tour package might yet be advantageous. It’s the Italian architecture that I admired most at Place Garibaldi and many other places around. The tramway might be too fast for one to observe the surroundings. Happy trip!

  3. Edmonton Dodge says:
    April 6th, 2011 at 05:37

    Thanks for the advice Travel Agony Aunt. I went to visit Paris two years ago. I was about to visit Nice also via train but time did not permit. This year, I’m going to Paris for business purposes and I’m planning to visit Nice again. With your advice, I’m sure I’d enjoy the place the way you did without going through the hassle of renting a car. Thanks again!

  4. Alexia says:
    April 7th, 2011 at 15:12

    Nice is absolutely a nice place to spend vacation. I remembered our trip there two years ago where we stayed in a hotel with a beach vie. Every morning my husband and I would take a morning walk down the promenade des Anglais. Coffee shops are just opening then. We would sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee while observing Nice come to life. Well, it was just a wonderful experience for me and my husband. We are planning a trip again before the year ends.

  5. Camille says:
    April 13th, 2011 at 03:24

    I went to Nice last July 2010 and it was really a great place to visit. I especially loved the Arenas Park of Cimiez and also the Nice Jazz Festival. Will be witnessing the Festival again this August and going around without a car is a great idea. I would surely try this as I haven’t tried it for a while. Thanks Travel Agony Aunt!

  6. used cars Vancouver island says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 01:42

    I agree with Travel Agony Aunt that Nice is best appreciated on foot. I have been there and though it would be so tiring but the satisfaction that you get from touring the city up close and personal on foot is priceless. Of course, you get to get some rides to get to some popular destinations but not when you are appreciating the squares; moreso at the “Zone Pietonne”, which means for pedestrians only. When you have a hard time speaking French, bring along your iPhone or iPad so that you can Google translate along the way.

  7. Vancouver Hyundai says:
    May 10th, 2011 at 22:37

    It’s always a challenge to ride public transportations especially if you’re in a new country, and more especially if you are alone. I have not been to Nice yet, or any parts of France, but whenever I travel to other destinations, I make it a point to learn learn how locals go about their daily routines the cheaper way. Driving around with a rented car is convenient but expensive; however, how can you immerse yourself with the culture of other people if you seclude yourself in the carapace that is your car?

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