Nice Transport

A cyclist bike in action on the Promenade des Anglais cycle lane, Nice transport, France

The dedicated cycle and skate lane on the Promenade des Anglais.

Nice Transport Authority has constructed several kilometres of new cycle lanes in 2019 to supplement  those around the edges of the Promenade du Paillon and Jardin Albert Premiere.  Cycles are also not uncommon on tram tracks such as along Blvd Jean Medecin though cyclists have to take care with a] getting tyres caught in tram tracks b] pedestrians wandering across the road without hearing the approaching bike.

Why use Nice Transport

Nice, the ‘Capital of Riviera’ is a great base for travelling around the Côte d’Azur.

The airport is incredibly convenient, Nice has plenty of cheap public transport facilities (€1 for buses and trams if you buy a carnet) and fast access to the A8 auto-route that follows the south of France coast from Montpelier in the far west all the way to Italy in the east.

It’s also easy to get onto one of the three 30 km Corniches that run parallel along the coast to Monaco and Menton. Our favourite is the very scenic Moyenne Corniche, Nice to Eze.  The Basse Corniche is pretty but slow while the topmost Grande Corniche is fast but there’re few places to stop and admire the view.

Getting around on foot

Nice centre is compact and offers plenty of traffic-free walking though travelling the length of the Promenade des Anglais would require quite a bit of energy, as would reaching various museums. It’s possible to walk to the airport along the full 7km length of the promenade in two hours. Walking is arguably Nice’s primary attraction, with the two gorgeous promenades, car-free shopping on wide and attractive Ave. Jean Medecin and some wiggling around the narrow streets of the old town before slumping into a beer in Cours Saleya, though few experienced local people would suggest this is a good place to eat!

Nice Trams, 1 and 2

Nice tram, Place Massena

Nice Tram 2 arriving at Nice airport. Currently it runs from Airport Terminals 1 and 2 (or CADAM admin centre) to Jean Medecin in central Nice. By the end of the year it will connect with Nice (Sea) port, Place Garibaldi and all points in between.

Notice anything unusual? There are no cables, no electrified lines and no batteries on board, so where’s the power coming from?

From solar power to supercapacitor pads at each station (2 pads visible in photo above) which transfer a charge to onboard supercapacitors in 2 seconds. This can push the trams at up to 70kph but only on the underground section from Jean Medecin to Magnan where there are no pedestrians around! Above ground the trams travel up to about 30kph. This use of supercapacitor technology for public transport is currently unique to Nice, in the world.

Passenger cost? 1.50 euro per ride, or 1.0 euro if you buy a 10 ride carnet, valid for all trams and buses. It’s a bargain!

tram going thu place massena, Nice, France

Central Nice Transport map, July 2019

If you’re renting accommodation in Nice then being reasonably close to the tram is sensible BUT not beside the track on Tram 1 routes as the incessant pedestrian warning ding-ding will drive you crazy!

The Tram 1 section that is most useful is from Gare Thiers tram stop (near Nice Ville Station/Gare SNCF, marked in green) on Jean Medecin, down to Place Massena and running between the Old Town and Promenade du Paillon to the National Theatre, Modern Art Museum, Acropolis and exhibition centre (also green).

The 2019 price is €1. 50 but best to buy a 10-trip card for €10. When you board the tram remember to punch the ticket in at a box by the entry. Inspectors (large groups of burly men!) do check tickets from time to time and things can get awkward.

Nice tram, Place Massena

Tram 1 travelling thru Place Massena in central Nice. The trams are efficient, mostly reliable and usually clearly state direction and approaching stops.

More about Le Tramway: stations, schedule, future developments etc.

Nice Transport Buses

Go to the official ligne d’azur site for full information (in English, German, French, Italian) on buses on the Côte d’Azur such as timetables, fares, journey planning and much more.

The price per bus journey is €1. 50 (€1 if you buy a 10-shot card) over the full city network of buses and trams but also on buses throughout the Alpes-Maritimes. You can use the same card for tram or bus so it makes sense to buy a 10 trip pass that reduces the price per ride to €1.

You can’t use the same ticket for a return journey.

The Matisse Museum is within €1. 50 bus range, as are Cannes, Monaco and Antibes. Buy tickets at bus or tram stops. Remember to validate tickets each time you get on a different tram or bus.

Velo Bleu bike rentals

A Velo Bleu cycle station on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice transport, Cote d'Azur, France

Tourists working out the Velo Bleu system on the Promenade des Anglais.

Nice’s cheap, self-service cycle rental system Velo Bleu was installed around the city a few years ago and appears to be successful.

However, no one’s telling how much it costs the city to maintain this bike system. 90 stations offer at least 10 bikes each 24/7, with the first half an hour being free and the subsequent day costing about €1.

There’s seems to be a bit of a disconnect between online info and what you get from a Velobleu station. For example, online is only in French language but the stations are in three languages, French, English and Italian.

When I registered online beforehand – with a credit card on (France) – I was told to go to a station (when I wanted a bike), press the ON button and look for Mon Compte (my account). I did so but there was no Mon Compte on offer, though the screen did offer me a free phone number, starting 0036. Which, if you have a French phone doesn’t work. I then replaced the 003 with 0 and was immediately recognised. Yay! (when I registered online I gave my mobile number). Brilliant, I thought.
I was then a little confused about how to select a bike because I had two bikes in front of me but was being offered only one.
Whatever, having checked tyres I pressed go to select whichever bike the screen thought existed. Result! Pull the cord/chain out of the locking device and I had a bike. Success!

I adjusted the saddle, easily, and set off, not without a wobble as the bikes are heavy and quite low. Eeek, eeek, eeek. The bike squeaked horribly above 2kph. Unbearably. Embarrassingly. Everybody looking at you kind of noise. Return to sender kind of noise. So I went back to the station having made a circuit of Nice’s Old Town. Logged on at the station, officially returned the bike. Fine.
Tried to rent another but calls went unrecognised. Went to a different station. Calls unrecognised. Went to a different station. Calls unrecognised. Excuse my French but F. . . that! Decided that walking is more reliable and a lot less stressful. End of experiment.

Go online to the efficient VeloBleu site (if you get the site in French but prefer English change the URL ending from fr to en) where you can see a plan of Velo Bleu stations, FAQ, cycle availability at that moment (click en temps reel) and much more.

Other systems of Nice transport

Trains

Trains are a superb way to get around the Côte d’Azur as the track runs beside the coast, offering wonderful views in comfort though trains are generally dirty on the outside and  punctuality is a question.  However, the trains are frequent,  cheap (Nice to Monaco, 20 minutes, €6 return), comfortable and are generally double-decker giving a more generous view than lowly single level trains.
A train will also haul you up into the mountains behind Nice if you wish (e.g. Digne), affording relaxation rather than the white knuckle, vomit-inducing driving normally with mountain roads.

Taxis

Taxis are one of the least satisfactory elements of Nice transport, with stands scattered around the city. However, successive presidents have failed to break taxi unions so charges are still excessive. However, Uber is available in Nice so if you have an account take Uber and save on both money (you should pay less than 40e from the airport) and tiresome arguments.
On arrival at Nice airport log on to the free airport wifi.  You can then  login to Uber and see all cars in the area.  After collecting your luggage,  order your car which will take less than 10 minutes to get to the airport. Use that time to  get to the Uber pick-up spot and look out for the car which will be clearly detailed by the app. 

Car hire

If you’re in Nice for a short city break, forget about coming by car. Get here by plane or train and rent a car if you really feel the need to explore widely. Many popular tourist places are easily and cheaply reached by train from Nice, including Cannes, Antibes, Menton, Monaco, Marseille though not Eze or St Tropez.

In common with most big cities, Nice is an expensive nightmare for parking. If you do have a vehicle best to park in underground car parks where they generally have space and your car is less likely to be wacked while you’re away from it, though you’ll be paying €20-€30 per day.

Taxi-Cycle

Taxi-cycles are a fun way to get around and don’t cost silly money. The operators seem to work in various languages and know the city well so lost, lazy or hurried foreign tourists may find them useful. Place Massena and along the Promenade des Anglais are where they are mostly found.

Port de Nice

Nice transport, the sea port, France

The Port of Nice seen from Castle Hill looking northeast towards Villefranche, Monaco, Menton and Italy.

Nice’s port, where the mega-rich rub shoulders with the long-term port residents, while car ferries slide in and out en route for French and Italian ports, including  Corsica Island (France, 4 hour voyage) and Sardinia Island (Italy).

You could also board a ferry to St Tropez and get a great view of the Côte d’Azur on the way. However, it could be a bit bumpy so Seasick Steves think twice. Consider both ways or a return journey via Uber, or Uber to the nearest rail station – Gare de Saint Raphael – which is 40kms/1 hour away.