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
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!