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How awful is having a car?

roswell ga
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How awful is having a car?

Hello you wonderful posters!

I have now officially driven myself crazy. I have read EVERY post about transportation in the Nice area. After reading them all I am terrified of the ticket machines on the trains and the bus situation sounds so confusing(which station, what transfer, what time). I don't want to fight 30 cruise passengers for a spot on the bus. I know many of you prefer public transport, but is a car really that much of a hassle in mid- May?

We are staying in Villefranche sur Mer for one week and would like to visit the Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Eze, Vence, Vallurois, Grasse, Antibes and more of the perched villages if we have time. It also seems that it would be so much easier to get from the airport to VF by renting a car. We could also leave the car at our apt.(we will hopefully find a spot on the street) and take the train to cannes since the film festival will be in progress but I think it is cheaper to rent by the week, rather than just for 4-5 days.

I think you all get the picture and I am rambling on so thank you in advance for all your wonderful input.

Takapuna, New...
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1. Re: How awful is having a car?

I think that the problems of a car on the Cote d'Azur are exagerated.

I've stayed in Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes, Cannes, Mougins on various trips in May, June and July, always with a car and I've never had a problem. Villefranche-sur Mer always seems to have parks available in the parking area by the port, Nice also in the large parking area by the port or in the streets by the market, Cannes near the market or beside the beach, Mougins at the entrance to the village. I do not do public transport, ever, except occassionally in Paris on the Metro. I make sure that there is nearby parking where I am staying and always manage to find parking when I drive out to other towns. It may be quicker to get from station to station by train along the Cote d'Azur but the stations aren't always that conveniently located. A car is the best way to get from an apartment to the supermarche for provisions. It is also the quickest and most convenient way to get to some of the inland villages like Mougins, Biot, Valbonne, Peillon. maybe it would be better to take public transport to Cannes for the film festival, but for everything else, a car is fine.

Monaco
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2. Re: How awful is having a car?

I think it comes down to personal preference. There seem to be a lot of independent travelers on TripAdvisor who enjoy the challenge of working out local public transport systems, and find that this is all part of the holiday experience. It's also easy for people like myself, who rarely use a car (I haven't owned one for about 20 years) to rave about the public transport over here because we use it all the time. IMHO, I always feel sorry for car drivers because they can't take the time to enjoy the scenery nor "watch life" the way a passenger in a car/bus/train can. We've been stuck in traffic jams with friends and it's really horrible - at least if you're on the bus you can just get out and walk away from it.

However, for some people, the thought of not having a car to get about is just unimaginable. In fact, most of our friends think we're mad using public transport.

So, maybe it just comes down to what scares you most (using an unfamiliar system or getting stuck in traffic and not finding a parking space), what your priorities are (you can talk to people on public transport but you're isolated in a car), and what you like to do on holiday (go to as many places as possible every day or chill out and "go with the flow").

Takapuna, New...
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3. Re: How awful is having a car?

I don't think it's got anything to do with what scares you most, it's what appeals most. To me, the flexibility of going where I wish, when I wish and stopping when I wish far outweighs the rigid timetables, routes and discomfort of public transport. And in a car, I get to chose who gets to speak to me.

Nice
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4. Re: How awful is having a car?

It really depends on you what you want out of a holiday. Hiring a car is not the budget option since public transport is so heavily subsidised.

I think there is some truth in it being a bit easier for getting around from villefranche BUT the parking situation is probably worse in villefranche than in Nice

The main advantage is flexibility of travelling around after the buses have stopped [between 8 and 9pm]though trains run longer or travelling to places that are really off the beaten track or maybe ticking off a lot of places in one day.

I've been trying to think how many folk i know have a car here. We don't drive but I think almost all the folk I know who live in the area don't have cars even though they do drive.

some will rent a car for an occasional weekend trip to avignon or somewhere far away or if they want to transport something large

Having been taken places in cars by friends i see how much hassle it is to find a parking space - driving round and round futilely looking for somewhere to park on the street can take ages and use up any saving in journey time.

Last week I was offered a lift home and walking to the car park, finding the car, paying for the ticket. getting out onto the road then driving to the street near my house took at least as long as using the tram and would not have been far off the time for walking briskly.

Also taking a paid parking space can be expensive - even some hotels with parking charge 10 euros and more a day to their guests

Definitely take the train to cannes during the film festival if you choose to go then - the traffic is a complete nightmare

London, United...
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5. Re: How awful is having a car?

I drive but have never found need of a car on the Riviera. If you have a family of five to move around that's a different issue, but for me bus and train are really low cost low-stress means of travel. Rather than duelling for road position against French drivers, with high-powered motorcycles up inside and out, and those obstinate cyclists that refuse to use the cycleways, I can relax and let someone else have the grief. At one euro a trip on the bus, why lay out on car rental?

Takapuna, New...
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6. Re: How awful is having a car?

Hi Selkienice and monacoCabbie

I should be thankful that you are encouraging people to stay off the roads - more room for me.

I hear what you say, but I think that there is a big difference in using public transport when you live in the area. The majority of your trips, I suspect, are routine. Same routes each day. Home to work to shops to home, etc. You have a routine and that works for public transport. However, on holiday, each day is different and public transport does not work so well.

I'll stick to using cars and recommend the same to anyone who asks for my opinion.

Guildford, United...
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7. Re: How awful is having a car?

I live in Villefranche part of the time and sometimes need to rent a car in order to carry something bulky, recently a bathroom sink for example. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I hand the car back, as I no longer have to worry about finding the route, parking, which can be a big problem or dicing with the local drivers. However, for the moment, I am physically fit, so don't worry about standing on crowded and sometimes speeding buses. Anyone with a health problem might not be so happy.

For me, one of the attractions of public transport anywhere in the world, is the people I meet, which in the last year or two, have included a Russian multi-millionaire, a well known Japanese actress and two American visitors who ended up renting our flat.

There really are times in Villefranche when not one parking space is free. Getting to Villefranche by public transport is very simple but, on the other hand, it is straight forward drive.

Don't know how you drive normally but I find the key on the Riviera is to accelerate furiously, change lanes abruptly and generally behave like an idiot.

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8. Re: How awful is having a car?

Hi there,

Everything said above is valid.

So much depends on your own situation, number and ages of the party you are travelling with, budget location and where and when you want to drive.

We both hire cars and use public transport depending on what are plans are.

Once you work out the nuances of the public transport system it really is very good and easy. Angloinfo has a useful summary if you haven't yet come across it.

…angloinfo.com/af/18/french-riviera-travel-a…

However, driving and traffic in mid-May generally shouldn't be too bad. As you say for Cannes and possibly Monaco if your visit also clashes with the Grand Prix use the train.

If you are staying near the port in Villefranche I would be tempted to hire a car just for 3 days and use it intensively on these days to get from the airport ,do a large shop at a hypermarket, visit the perched villages, Grasse, Vence etc- all the places which aren't easily accessible by public transport. 3 day rentals should be considerably cheaper than 7 day and some rental companies will not charge a one way fee if you drop the car back in Beaulieu,Nice town or wherever they have an office. Round the port in Villefranche on street parking is controlled and you may need to move the car every 2 hours.

If your apartment is higher up the hill away from the port, the train isn't so handy and buses stop running early. Car hire for 7 days is often the same price or sometimes (not always) cheaper than for 4 or 5 days, so a week rental would make sense, particularly if street parking isn't controlled near your apartment.

If you do hire, rent the smallest car possible- don't be tempted by upgrades to bigger vehicles. The roads,particularly those to Villefranche and the perched villages are narrow.

The other problem with car hire on the Riviera is vehicle damage.

Make sure you check the car thoroughly before you hire it and get every scratch marked on the documentation. Renting cars with lots of pre-existing problems, takes the worry away if there are any small additions :)

Hope you have a great trip

Nice
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9. Re: How awful is having a car?

I personally don't do many routine journeys and mainly walk around the centre of Nice

I use the buses and trains for different trips around the area every week -so although i live here, i use the public transport system for visiting interesting places.

vence is easy to visit by bus during the day though the last bus back to Nice is about 7pm . Grasse is reachable by bus [one euro from Nice] or direct train from villefranche or Nice -last train back is about half past ten

Monaco
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10. Re: How awful is having a car?

wigwam3

I can't speak for SelkieNice, but the majority of my trips with public transport aren't routine. I don't need public transport to get to work or the shops as I live close enough to walk to both.

Most of my trips are to get away at the weekend or to see friends, some of whom live quite a distance away. It also means I have to think ahead a bit, to be sure I can get there and back under my own steam. If absolutely necessary, I'll take a taxi (as often happens if we go to see a friend and stay late at night), but this still works out cheaper than keeping a car.

As I said, in my previous post, it comes down to individual preference. I don't feel that a car gives me freedom, a car makes me feel trapped. We also prefer to use public transport when on holiday. We might hire a car on holiday once every 5 years, thinking how it would give us freedom to go anywhere. We always end up spending more time in the car than in the places themselves, and rarely get to know the region we're visiting as well as when we stick to public transport (combined with bikes / walking).