Nice Airport (IATA:NCE) is one of the busiest in France and has direct flights to most major cities in Europe as well New York, Atlanta and a number of destinations in North Africa and the Middle East. The airport is located at the western end of Nice on landfill. Arrival and departure in good weather often provides beautiful views of the French Riviera.
Most airlines use Terminal 1 (the older terminal) while Terminal 2 is used primarily by Air France (and partners) and Easyjet. There is a free shuttle bus between the terminals.
Various bus lines depart from the airport. To get to the downtown bus depot, take line 98 (departing at bus stop 1 every 30 minutes, on the hour). The fare to the terminus is 4 Euros per person. The airport website has a page with timetables.
Some hotels offer shuttle buses from the airport - inquire at your hotel before or upon arrival.
Nice is connected to the rest of France via the SNCF train network. A direct TGV train from Paris to Nice takes about 6 hours, fare for an adult is about 100 Euros. The train arrives in Nice at the central station (called simply "Gare SNCF").
A new service called "IdTGV" is now available: it offers low-cost TGV ticket (from 19€ for a single trip between Paris and Nice). These tickets have to be bought online, they are not refundable. http://www.idtgv.com/
The best, cheapest and most reliable way to get from the Airport to central nice or the Nice Ville train station is the 98 and 23 buses. They run high frequency between 08:00 and 20:00. The first one is at about 05:30 and the last one around 19:40. The airport website gives an updated timetable in PDF format (see by plane above).
Best access is by car from the A8 autoroute. The airport is well signed from the A8 and the A8 well signed from the airport. Just make sure that you know which direction you need to go when getting on the A8 and which terminal when leaving. Especially in the morning and evening rush hour do allow extra time to deal with accidents and traffic jams. The A8 has a ferocious bend just by the airport and accidents are frequent.
Driving a car on the Riviera is only for the brave, the region has one of the worst accident records in France (which is saying something) and every local has his or her favourite story about a mad driver. However all major car rental firms, as well as some less well known ones such as easycar and ADA, are present. Most are located by terminal 2 however easycar is located just off site near terminal 1. If you have a choice try to pick a car that is already well dinged so that no one notices the new dings and scratches you will add.
If you can avoid the taxis, sadly in many cases you do not have a choice. Also often it is hard to find a taxi when you need one.
Nice taxi drivers are notorious for ripping off foreigners. Insist on the meter being on the whole time. Try and sit where you can see it so that you can immediately query the driver when/if it goes off "accidentally". Taxi fares within Nice should be less than €20, Antibes €50 and Monaco or Cannes should result in fares of approximately €70.
A number of public buses crisscross Nice. When taking the bus, you must be aware of the somewhat odd way the bus schedules are laid out.
They list the departure time at the first bus station - not the one you are currently at (unless the two coincide, naturally). At the right hand side of the bus schedule, you have a list of stations, and next to some you will find the time listed it will take the bus to get there (+20', for example). This means that you will have to do a lot of guessing. Best ask a native and leave some extra padding time (30 minutes or more depending on the complexity of your bus trip) if you plan to take a bus to any scheduled event that you really do not want to miss (airport, train, etc).
You can find local bus route maps and timetables at this link. Route maps are listed under 'Maps' and timetables as 'Timetables'. They are provided in PDF format. Also, a new service ('Stop timetables') purports to display the times at your stop. From previous experience with the bus company, those should stand somewhere between educated guesses and outright fiction. The interurban bus station (Gare Routière) in central Nice is on Avenue Félix Faure near the Rue du Lycée.
Take care to check for temporary changes to your bus stops near any roadworks for Nice's new tram system.
Nice isn't very big. Unless you want to reach the very outlying areas, you can probably get away with walking your entire stay.
Unless you are very experienced, don't.
The ruined castle overlooking the harbour is a nice vantage point overlooking the city. Not much is left besides crumbling walls. Still, climbing up the stairs to reach the platforms 90m above Nice is well worth the view. Be aware that the castle "park" closes at 8:00 in the evening. Expect to be escorted outside if you stay longer.
Nice is also known for several museums. Some of the most famous are in Cimiez, the older, upper part of the city, including:
If you go to Nice for bathing or generally lounging on the beach, you may wish to think again. The beaches of Nice consist entirely of gravel and rocks - much nicer beaches exist in other cities around the Mediterranean (Villefranche-sur-Mer or Cannes are way more sandy, though). A few private beaches have added a layer of sand, but the free public beaches are a stony experience. Besides towels or mats you should definitely bring sandals (walking on the rocks can be painful) and cushions (if you want to sit). Showers are provided (for free) on all public beaches, as well.
Private beaches offer various services from restaurants / bars to the rental of lounge chairs and towels.
Go to Eze. It is a small village on the way to Monaco. The village is situated on a small mountain and there is a beautiful garden with a spectacular view (a must see). There is also a perfume factory which you can visit for free.
There are many schools offering courses in French. Perhaps the most reputable is Alliance Française .
Most stores and restaurants in Nice will accept the major credit cards, as well as debit cards from major banks (anything carrying the EC or MAESTRO labels). If this fails you can always get money from any of the numerous ATM machines.
Postcards (as many other things) vary greatly in price. Do some comparison shopping as the price range is between 20 cents and 1 Euro per normal postcard.
A food called "Socca" is a local speciality, as is a tuna fish sandwich called "Pan Bagnat." Other specialties include Soupe de Poisson (Fish Soup, made with chili aioli, croutons, and grated cheese), Salade Nicoise (made with seafood), and Tourtes aux Blettes (sweet tartes made with Savoy cabbage, raisins, nuts, and powdered sugar).
Check out the daily market in the Vieux Nice for fresh, local produce.
Cheap & cheerful food in Nice is hard to come by. Even the menus offered at McDonalds are between 5.50€-7€ for a sandwich, pommes frites and a soda drink.
The best deals in the centre can be found in the port area. Old Nice and all along the sea front the prices cannot be described as budget.
You can save a lot of money by buying drinks and such in a normal supermarket instead of the vendors geared towards tourists. With the hot Niçois summers, carrying a bottle of water is almost a must.
Some popular places to go out for a drink include:
There are a number of hotels within walking distance of terminal 1 of the Airport and a special hotel shuttle bus serves other hotels within Nice itself.
It would seem that the simplest solution is to stay at a youth hostel. There are quite a number in Nice, three of which are:
Being a heavily touristed city, it's easy to find a number of small hotels which are perfectly acceptable, and usually at a decent rate.
Hotels 2* located in the centre of Nice
Hotels 3* located in the centre of Nice
Holiday palaces are numerous in Nice: there are 14 four-star hotels of which these are a sampling:
Nice is not really more dangerous than other cities in western countries. You can easily stay safe following a few pieces of advice:
Notre-Dame Auxiliatrice, 36, Place Don Bosco. Sat: 18:30; Sun: 8:30, 10:00; Mon-Fri: 16:15, 18:30
St. Joseph, 21, Rue Smolett. Sat: 18:30; Sun 9:00; Thu: 18:00
Saint Jean-Baptiste, Place du Voeu/Rue Alfrede Mortier. Sat: 18:00; Sun: 11:00, Mon-Wed: 18:45; Thu-Fri: 8:30
St. Martin-St. Augustin, Place Saint-Augustin. Sat: 16:00, 17:30; Sun: 9:30, 11:00; Tue-Fri: 16:00
Some other catholic churches in downtown Nice:
Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate, Place Rossetti. Sat: 18:30; Sun: 10:00, 12:00; Mon-Fri: 10:00
Notre Dame du Port, 8, Place Ile de Beaute. Sun: 10:00; Mon-Fri: 18:00
Basilique Notre Dame, 2, Rue d’Italie. Sat: 11:00, 17:30; Sun: 8:30, 10:00, 11:15; 18:00; Mon-Fri: 11:00, 18:00
Reformed temple, 21, boulevard Victor Hugo. Sun: 10:15
Lutheran church, 4, Rue Melchior de Vogüé. Sun: 10:30
Baptist church, 32 rue de l'hôtel des postes. Sun: 10:30
Evangelical church, 51bis, avenue de Pessicart. Sun: 10:00
Anglican church Holy Trinity, 11, rue de la Buffa. Sun: 11:00; Mon&Thu: 12:15; Tue: 18:15; Wed&Fri: 10:30; Sat: 09:00
Greek orthodox church Saint Spyridon, 2, Avenue Desambrois. Sun: 10:30; Mon-Sat: 10:15
Russian orthodox cathedral Saint Nicolas, Avenue Nicolas II. Sun-Sat: 10:00
Apostolic Armenian church, 281 Boulevard de la Madeleine. Sun: 10:00
If you're getting out of Nice towards Paris, consider taking the TGV. Cruising at 300 km/h is quite fun (but the train only reaches high speed beyond Marseille) and the train has a nice route with plenty of views of the coast. Be sure to ask for a seat on the left-hand side of the train when going west from Nice.
There are coaches from Nice Airport to most places between Marseilles and Genoa.
Eze can be reached using line 82 or 112 from the Gare Routiere (bus terminal) in Nice.
There are a number of helicopter services available with regular flights to St Tropez, Cannes and Monaco. The price is quite competitive with a taxi fare and the views are stunning.