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Most travelers' first point of arrival and departure from the French Riviera is the Nice Cote d'Azur International Airport (NCE) . The NCE airport services the eastern part of Provence, and whether your onward mode of travel is by car, bus or train, understanding the airport is the key.
TRANSPORTATION LINKS: For general information regarding transport to and from the Nice airport, look at this airport link:
Rapid (“Express”) coach services connect each terminal of the airport to the most traveled to nearby towns. Fares and schedules can be viewed on the following links. For those route numbers, see the discussions below:
For buses into Nice, look at this link and in the search box along the right margin, enter the bus numbers. To view a map of the area near a stop, select the arrowed square next to a stop:
For night buses, look at these links:
For both train and bus tickets, there are ticket offices in both terminals, and if traveling by train, this may be the best place to purchase a ticket. "Chip and PIN" cards are needed for automated machines, and for travelers who don’t have these and need a manned counter for a credit card purchase, the train station counter may not be open. Coins are usually needed for automated machines, and it’s not common to have these in the amounts needed for train tickets. However, be mindful that there may be lines at the airport counters. To learn more, here is a link to the NCE airport website:
AIRPORT SHUTTLE: There are two terminals, imaginatively called T1 and T2. A free continuous shuttle bus connects T1 and T2, so if you find yourself in T1 and you need T2, a five minute ride is at hand. The terminal bus also stops close to Nice St. Augustin train station, and this is the train station nearest to the airport. As the bus may not always stop at this point, let the driver know that you want to go to the Arenas stop for St. Augustin.
BUS: There are bus stations in both airports, and how to get to them is clearly marked. Following is a discussion regarding the most oft mentioned bus routes to popular Cote d’Azur locations:
1) The 99 and 98 airport express buses into Nice run about two routes an hour each, between 05:56 and 23:43. The 99 travels to the central railway station in Nice, Gare Nice Ville, and the 98 runs along the sea front past the big hotels with final destination via the Port to Nice Riquier (Place Blanqui)
2) Until 9:00pm, Terminal 1 is served by the local bus 23. This bus does not have special luggage storage, but its low flat fare towards Nice centre is often favored by locals. This bus also stops near the St. Augustin train station at the "Gare SNCF Saint-Augustin" shelter (see “Trains” below), but for destinations in Nice, it's best to stay on this bus. The final destination of the 23 is Vallon des Fleurs in Nice northern suburbs, but it runs parallel the sea front as far as Gambetta. The bus passes near, but no longer connects, with the main train station. You can dismount at the start of Av Gambetta and its a short walk into the town centre.
3) Also from Terminal 1, take a short walk up to the Promenade des Anglais to the stop for Lignes d'Azur local buses 52 and 59. These buses travel between St Laurent de Var and Nice, and will stop to pick you up (other routes won't). The timetable and route for these two buses can be viewed on the Lignes d'Azur link.
4) "Express" coaches via the motorways to the most popular destinations outside of Nice are a good alternative to the more expensive taxi fares. For a comparison, go to the NCE airport link and select "Taxis," for fare estimates, but there is a fixed tariff. Express buses have luggage compartments below the cabin, so unlike local buses, managing baggage is easy. Heading west, take the the 210 bus to Cannes and the 250 to Antibes and Juan les Pins. The 110 travels east towards Monte Carlo and Menton. For these routes, the stops can be viewed on the CG06 link.
5) For final destination towns to the east of Nice, you have to get to the centre of Nice first, then change to Lignes d'Azur route 100 which runs between the centre of Nice and Menton. This bus runs about every fifteen minutes, taking in Villefranche, Cap Ferrat, Beaulieu , Monaco and Menton. The train is another option to these latter destinations.
6) For towns to the west of the airport, the local stopping service 200 bus travels between Nice and Cannes, taking in St Laurent de Var, Antibes, Juan les Pins and finally Cannes centre. To Cannes, journey time is typically two hours,.however it is the least expensive option (the fare is a standard flat rate, currently 1.50 Euro), and this bus will make stops in some of the smaller towns that the 210 Express coach does not.
To get to the 200 bus stop, walk to the "Promenade Aeroport" shelter across the road from Terminal 1. Do not attempt to cross this very busy road! From the terminal, follow the reddish colored pedestrian path and go through an underpass. The 200 are usually three or four an hour, but are often already full leaving Nice and it's not unknown to have to stand much of the route. Unless you are on a very tight budget and have time to spare, the Cannes Express bus is the better option
7) For late night arrivals or early morning departures when these buses aren't operating, look at the night bus link provided above.
8) The 500 bus travels from Terminal 1 to Grasse and takes about 1 1/2 hours. It makes multiple and will work for destinations along its route. For those destinations, use the bus links above. The 500 bus fare is the region's low flat rate, but there may be extra charges for large luggage. Travel by train to Grasse is a bit shorter, but factor in the time it will take to get to the St. Augustin station. Both options will work.
You can leave or arrive at the airport via the SNCF Nice St Augustin station, the closest train station to the airport. Before choosing this option, know that the station is not in the airport, and getting to the station can be tricky with a lot of luggage or small children. It is possible to walk to the station, but both the free airport shuttle and bus 23 will get you within a closer proximity. However, there will still be a walk from these stops to the station, and if heading east towards Antibes/Juan les Pins and Cannes, there will be steps to getting onto that platform. To compare the shuttle and the 23 bus: The airport shuttle has a low entrance that is easy for handling luggage, but its "Arenas" stop will mean the longest walk to the train station. Bus 23 is a local bus, meaning there aren't special accommodations for luggage and it could to be crowded, but its "Gare SNCF Saint-Augustin" stop is the closest to the station. In relation to Terminal 1, the station is sited on the other side of the big Arenas office complex. As landmarks, the Hotel School is part of this complex and further down in the direction of the train station, there is a cinema. For more information, read "TER Nice St. Augustin Station" on this airport link and download the attachment:
The TER is the train line that travels along the coast, and to view the schedule, use the link below. These trains are frequent and don't require reservations, and the link is provided for information purposes only. To get to the PDF, follow the directions below the link:
1) Select the “04 Mandelieu – Cannes – Nice – Ventimiglia” route from the “line” list and “Validate.”
2) Under “search results,” select the same route and you will get to the PDF. For the route in the other direction, scroll through the pages.
TAXI: There are taxi ranks at both terminals, and while train and bus fares will beat those of taking a taxi, taxis mean "door to door" service and are favored by many. The estimated fares can be viewed on the NCE airport link, but as is common in every destination, these are estimates and there may be some variance. Remember that the number in a party can make a taxi fare more attractive, and sharing a taxi can be more cost effective than several individual fares on public transport. Note that taxis are “cash only,” and there are ATM’s inside the terminals.
TRANSFER SERVICE AND HELICOPTERS: Many people like the convenience of a transfer service, and there are several that can be booked online or at the airport. For another, more lavish experience, helicopter service is available to Monaco , Cannes and St. Tropez. To find more information on all of these services, look at the NCE airport link or do an internet search.
FINDING YOUR HOTEL: Most hotel websites provide this information or do a Google “Walking Maps” search from a point of arrival to your hotel’s address. “Gare (and the name of the town)” works for train arrivals and most hotels will provide information on the nearest bus stops.
LATE ARRIVAL OR EARLY MORNING DEPARTURE: If an arrival is close to or after midnight or you have an early morning departure and the night bus doesn't work for you, a taxi may be your best option….but be prepared for the expense and make sure you have cash for the fare.There are also several off-airport hotels within a short walk, an option some travellers prefer when catching a very early flight.
PEAK TRAFFIC TIMES: If heading to the airport during rush hours, be mindful of the Nice rush hour and that the normal twenty minute journey can turn into something much longer. It's best to leave a little slack in your timetable. Heading from the direction of Cannes during summer rush hours, there is often a long traffic jam inching along the main coastal route between Antibes and St Laurent, and buses get no special dispensation. This means that the 200 coastal bus is not a good idea during peak travel times, but the 210 and 250 Express buses that travel from Cannes and Antibes (respectively) are usually okay as they travel on the motorway. From other locations along this corridor that are not serviced by an Express bus, the train to St Augustin is the reliable way to avoid the heavy traffic to the airport.
AIRPORT SERVICES: When killing time at the airport, know that there are very few services once you have passed through passport control. There are several dining counters, including one on the departure side of passport control, but these are basically for quick meals and snacks. On the security side of the airport and before immigration, there are several "duty free" shops, and as it is in most airports, these prices usually work best for international travelers. For more information, view “Shops and Services” on the NCE airport website.