Nice is a great base for exploring other towns and villages close by. Using the TAM network of buses or coaches makes it easy and enjoyable. The TAM network complements the local Ligne d'Azur network. The ligne d'azur buses will stop at all the bus stops in Nice whereas the TAM buses will stop at only several of the main bus stops in Nice providing a faster service. All the bus stops in Nice are clearly labelled with the name of the bus stop and the numbers of the buses that stop there plus a map of the network for those buses and a time table.
There are several options of bus passes if you intend to use the local buses. One-day passes and weekly passes can be bought, some of the pass options can be bought from the driver; others are bought from local Tabacs or from the Office on Place Massena, details above. These passes are only valid for the ligne dazur buses or the TAMs when used within the ligne dazur network.
In my opinion, using the TAM buses is infinitely preferable to the trains for local day trips out. I think the routes are more scenic, the fares very low and the buses are clean and air-conditioned. These inter-regional coaches stop at a useful selection of bus stops (called 'arrets' in French) in Nice so you are not always obliged to trek to the main Bus Station or Gare Routiere. For buses heading west eg the 200, 400 etc, Place Grimaldi is a useful central stop and the Port is a handy stop for the 100 heading east out of NIce to Menton.
The Gare Routiere is, sadly, one the grottiest parts of Nice, long overdue for a complete face-lift. It looks as though it IS being smartened up a little due probably to to the new Tramway which opened in November 2007.
Until you are familiar with the TAM network, however, the easiest way to find out about the various routes is to visit the Gare Routiere and pick up some time-tables and check out which platform ('quai' in French) you need. You can also get a selection of these timetables from the Ligne d'Azur Offices at 3 Place Massena, on the opposite side to Go Sport.
There is an electronic departure notice board ot the Gare Routiere.
As the majority of the routes start and terminate in the Gare Routiere, you can be sure of the timings at least at the start of a journey. Also, for popular places like St Paul de Vence, it is a good idea to start at the Gare Routiere to guarantee a seat as the bus quickly fills up.
The TAM website is very useful for time-tables, bus stops etc but be warned, it takes a bit of getting used to, but persevere, it's worth it, we have had some good days out, for example to Villefranche sur Mer and to Eze Village, using the information from this website, so it DOES work. You can read a review of my trip to Eze Village here - part 1 then part 2. It's a great day out and includes a circular walk combined with the TAM buses 112 and 100.
We have also made several trips out to St Paul de Vence, catching the TAM 400 from the Gare Routiere in Nice. I have reviewed this day out in VirtualTourist.com. The review is in two parts;
part 1 and part 2.
In July 2004, the daughter and I took the TAM 111 from Nice to visit the zoo at Cap Ferrat then picked up the TAM 100 back to the Port.
The daughter and I have made several trips to the lovely fishing village of Villefranche, just around the corner to Nice, about 8 stops on the 100. I wrote some info about the trip here on my blog. Its lovely beach and gentle sea makes it worth the trip, even for just a couple of hour.
|Trips within and out of Nice by bus or coach|
|All about Nice|
|Villefranche sur Mer, a pretty village to the east of Nice; catch the 100 coach from Nice
It's about a 10 minute bus ride from Nice, get off at the Octroi stop by the tiny Tourist Office and then it's about a 10 minute walk to the far east of Villefranche to the beach. Walk along the front or through the Old Town. The beach at Villfranche is great for children as the almost sand or soft shingle shelves gently in to the sea, no rubber shoes required. The train station at Villefranche is even handier, it stops right by the beach. More info
lignes d'azur website
(includes TRAM info)
Tramway of Nice
(husband's youtube video)
getting to Nice (airport)
airport bus info
Nice le Port
Guided tours in Nice
Zoo du Cap Ferrat
|TAM - Transports Alpes-Maritimes
Inter-regional bus network - more tips
|List of bus stops for the 100 bus from Nice to Menton. Please click on the list to see a readable version.|
|Bus stops for the TAM coach number 100
All this information can be found in the Tam website above.
|Time-table (Monday to Saturday) for the 100 bus from Nice to Menton. Please click on the time-table to see a readable version. 'Normal' days. For SUNDAY travel and national holidays, please click here.
NB to find out the dates of National holidays in France, plese click here.
|The Sunday Times
Vincent Crump on walking weekends in Europe, including three good walks from Nice. (You will need to register first)
Many of the coaches or buses on the TAM network will get you to and from the departure points for these walks.
For more details or to buy (£7.25) the book mentioned in the article, please click on the book above.
|There are three main bus networks that serve Nice and the surrounding towns and villages:
Lignes d'Azur is the bus and tram network for Nice which covers all Nice and a bit beyond. The buses are numbered 1-99 (The 98 and 99 are the express buses that go to Nice airport) and the current single tram line is T1. A complete map of all the lignesdazur bus and tramway network can be downloaded
The TAM network has a series of buses or coaches that link the main towns with Nice along the Cote d'Azur and the main ones are the 100, 112, 200, 400, 500 and the new 100 xpress.
The 100 xpress from Nice to Monaco uses the autoroute which reduces the travel time up to 30 minutes from the regular 100 Nice - Menton (via Monaco) route.
Routes for all the TAM coaches (2007/8)
for pdf file (2009) click here
or use the (french) TAM website for more information and timetables.
A single fare for any journey on either the TAM, ligne dazur or Tram network for 2008 is just 1 euro. The exceptions to this are the express buses 98 or 99 to the airport which are 4 euros (effectively a one-day bus/tram pass) and the fast RCA airport buses to Cannes and Monaco. Pay the driver; correct or small change is always appreciated
You buy a single ('simple') one-way ticket. 'Returns'
(allez-retour) do not exist on the TAM or ligne d'azur network. The corresponding return bus stop to return to Nice will have the same name but the opposite destination listed and due to the many one-way roads in Nice, its whereabouts is not always apparent; you may have to walk a block or two to find it. All tickets must be 'composte' - stuck in the electronic machine just by or just past the driver. See photo below right.
It's also a good discipline to hang on to your ticket which ever line or route you are taking as inspectors are often about and it would be galling to be booted off the bus or to have to pay a fine through carelessness.
The third network is the RCA for express buses that serve towns other than Nice directly from the airport using the motorways. They have their own pricing policy with some crossover with the TAM network.
For information about any of the ligne d'azur buses and new Traway in Nice, see their website www.lignedazur.com or call into the office at 3 Place Massena in central Nice, open Monday to Friday 7:15 to 19:00 and Saturday 8:00 to 18:00. You can pick up a free bus and tram map plus time tables for individual buses.
The website lists helpfully, particular routes that may be of interest to visitors see here for the link. Click on the British flag, top right hand corner of the linked page if you need a translation.
For information about TAM buses, their website is:
or try the lignedazur office in Place Massena as above.
More information about bus routes can be found at the information desk in the crummy Gare Routiere on Jean Jaures. The Gare Routiere or Bus Station is a starting point for many of the bus journeys and for arrivals and departures to other countries. The Bus Station, unbelievably is only open during Office Hours and is closed on a Sunday. There is no website so if for example you wanted to find out about a bus to Marseilles or Barcelona*, you have to visit the desk during the week in office hours, in person, and hope that the staff speak some English if you don't speak French.
In Summer 2006, the Information Desk gave me this number for any journey queries:
08 92 70 12 06 For France the international dialling code is 00 33
If telephoning from outside France, then
00 33 (0) 8 92 70 12 06
*queries how to travel from Nice to Barcelona come up quite frequently on the travel forums. I photographed the bus time-table to Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga) this year (August 2006) but I should phone to check the information. I don't know the cost but it should be cheaper than the train or plane.
|The Lignes d'Azur and TAM network of buses, trams and coaches in Nice|
|The above sign is typical at any bus stop in Nice. The name of this stop or 'arret' is Medecin H(otel) des Postes (the name often gives a clue to its whereabouts - this one is on the junction of rue Hotel des Postes and Jean Medecin, opposite the large department store Galeries Lafayette)
The ligne d'azur Nice buses that stop here are the 3, 7, 9, 10, 14 etc , the destination of each bus is written after the number. This particular stop is also shared with the TAM network and their buses are listed in the blue square, eg the 200 to Cannes and the 400 to St Paul de Vence etc.
|August 2007. Our annual lunch at the famous La Colombe d'Or restaurant in St Paul de Vence. Take the 400 bus or coach from Nice Gare Routiere.|
|The above machine is found on every bus either just by the driver or just past the driver.
You must always 'composte' your bus ticket every time you use a bus in Nice. Just stick it in the yellow slot at the top, it will pop out again.
You will see regulars (they're the ones who shove by you on the left as you queue up to pay the driver, with long-term passes -they simply wave their pass at the 'validez ici' sign. Don't do this with your 1 euro ticket or even your day or week pass.
|The information below is from the TAM website and shows the routes by number and town of departure/arrival. Further information like all the bus stops en route and times etc from the TAM website.|
|Using the train to explore beyond Nice|
|walk & eat NICE
(Sunflower books, Jan 2008)
New Jan 2008 edition
I really recommend this book if you intend to explore beyond Nice without the bother and hassle of driving and parking. Fourteen interesting walks planned around public transport. Recommended cafes and restaurants en route plus recipes to try at home.. Complementary website keeps the information updated.
To see more recommended books on Nice and the Cote d'Azur, please click here
|As I am based in the Port, I tend to use buses and coaches to explore beyond Nice. There is however an excellent local train system and for some destinations, the train is really the best option - eg Cannes and sometimes it is the only option eg St Remo (unless you take the boat trip).
There is one main train station in Nice - Nice Centre Ville which serves both the local ter network, national SNCF and international high speed TGV trains. The station is located north of the city centre on avenue Thiers a good 20-25 minutes walk from sea. The main city centre shopping avenue, Jean Medecin just about links the train station with Place Massena and the Old Town and sea front.
If you don't want to walk from the train to the front, then frequent buses and a Tram serve Jean Medecin. Like most city centre train stations, Nice Centre Ville is not the most salubrious of areas and I would avoid the area after dark or on my own.
There is also a smaller local network only (ter) train station called Riquier, about 10 minutes walk north of the Port that is useful for those near the Port (me!) and who don't mind the slower trains that stop at all the stations. It's very handy for Villefranche as it stops directly opposite the beach and is only about 1,10 euros, even cheaper than the bus. Now that the tram links us to the main Nice Centre Ville train station, it is very easy for anyone near the Port to take the tram from Place Garibaldi (on Av de la Republique) to Thiers to take advantage of the fast trains to Cannes etc.
For a speedy journey to main stations without stopping at every single local station, then you need the main Nice Centre Ville train station on rue Thiers. Fast local trains can be caught here for Cannes, Antibes, Monaco etc.
Buying tickets at the train station is not easy. There are always queues and if there is no queue then the one person in front of you may take 20 minutes. My only advice is to buy your ticket a day or two in advance or use the ticket machine. Unless you have a carte bleu however it may not accept your credit card. There is also an office in rue de la Liberte off Jean Medecin where you can buy train tickets in advance in relative comfort. Time tables for each line can be collected at the stations or downloaded from the ter website.
Prices for train travel vary according to the distance. It is more expensive than using the bus which is excellent value at a flat 1,30 euros a trip but the train fares are still very good value and for speedy travel in the summer when the buses and coaches get caught in the holiday traffic, they are hard to beat. A day pass called a 'Carte Isabelle' offers unlimited day time throughout the ter network for 12 euros (2007 price) We used this pass to visit Biot and Grasse in one day and it was good value. It needs to be validated once on first use. All train tickets must be validated or 'composte' in the machines before use or you can get fined on the spot. The machines are in the stations or on the platforms - slide the ticket through and a date/time will be stamped on the back.
There is a third train station in Nice, St Augustin just north of Nice airport. Like Riquier train station it is part of the local ter network and only the slow stopping-at-all-stations trains will stop here. With hand luggage and crafty use of the free airport navette (bus shuttle) is is possible to use St Augustin as your transfer into Nice or beyond from the airport. Check the timetables though, it would be easy to be stuck here early evening with no hope of a train.
The airport website kindly offers information how to get to St Augustin walking from Terminal 1 but if you catch the shuttle bus at T1 or T2, it will take you to the mini roundabout marked 'Arenas' (for the business Park) and if you walk from there, it cuts off about half the journey.
|Afternoon tea at Villa Eprussi, Cap Ferrat, August 2006 A short bus ride out from Nice. Take the 81 to the door or a five minute walk from the 100.|
|The Billeterie or train ticket machine is fairly easy to use although some credit cards are not accepted. Our MO is to have one person in the queue and the other at the machine to see which comes first; it's always the machine no matter how short the queue at the ticket office.|
|2010 bus/tram fares still just 1 euro a ticket (not the 98 or 99)|