Hi all. I'll be in Nice from late Nov to early Dec. I picked Nice because most towns along the riviera are easily accessible by train. Are there spots that you would recommend a one day car rental for? Some scenic routes not accessible by train or bus? We plan to pack every day with some activities and I'm a bit worried we will run out of places to see in that area since people mention you can loop through 2-3 locations in a single day. Are there any places past the Italian border worth a trip?
I just spent two days with Ingrid from Best French Riviera Tours. We don’t drive over here so I haven’t looked into car rentals - but I was very happy we had Ingrid to drive us around. She picked us up in her Mercedes van and shuttled us around and we saw lots of French villages. On my request, she also took us into Italy. We went to Dolceaqua, which is just an awesome little village. It’s got all these little warren-like alleys that are sort of underground. Google Image it to see what I mean.
If you’re traveling alone, hiring Ingrid would be pricey - it’s 540 for a full day of touring in her van. We were a group of 4 and so it was pretty reasonable at 160 Euros each.
We spent two weeks in Nice doing day trips mostly by bus. Buses left from a very central location and drove along the sea. We only took a train to Antibes. The main reason to rent a car would be to visit the charming towns and villages up in the hills.
We visited by bus or train: Villefranche, Cap Ferrat with Villa Ephrussi and Villa Kerylos,
Antibes, Monaco. Our favorites were Antibes and Cap Ferrat.
We visited Ville-Franche-Sur-Mer, Monaco, and Cannes by public transportation.
Along the coast, most trips can easily be made by TER trains or by bus. But if you want to see the villages in the back country, a car is pretty much indispensable.
Some destinations where cars are more accessible than buses/trains -- due to reduced schedules, long walks after the nearest sop and/or time consuming transfers that can double or triple the time wasted. As noted, most are in the backcountry but some are along the coast:
* Beyond Vence to Tourettes-sur-Loup and Gourdon. Possible to route back through Mouans-Sartoux and Mougins.
* Valluris is more easily reach by car as well. Known for pottery and Picasso. Biot is known for glass. (The train leaves you at the base of the hill and the little local bus is infrequent -- except at school times).
* Saint Agnes. Peille and Peillon. Also, some of the border hill towns are reachable by train or bus (e.g, Tende, Saorge), but some are best by car.
* Saint Tropez and the rest of the peninsula are best reached by car. It is feasible as a day trip with a car.
Going to Italy. I do recommend Dolceacqua as well. Then continue on to Apricale. You can get to the coastal cities pretty easy by train, including Bordhigera and San Remo. But the coastal (and mountain) drives are quite nice, and there are some villages like Cervo and Finalborgo that still require a taxi or bus connection.
In addition to the places already mentioned, Menton is easy by train.
I got to both Biot and Vallauris by public transportation, but I may have been lucky with the bus schedules. The Biot trip began with a train.
I thought the St-Paul-de-Vence/Vence trip was easy enough by bus. There was a bit of a walk from the Fondation Maeght art museum to the town of St-Paul-de-Vence, but I don't think it would be an issue for folks in decent shape and without mobility impairments. It's not that far.
There's also the private Train des Pignes (not especially cheap) running from Nice to Entrevaux (medieval) and the spa town of Dignes-les-Bains. The train runs four times a day. Some studying of the schedule is required if you want time to walk around both Entrevaux and Dignes. I'd want to take this trip on a day with nice weather. I suspect Entrevaux and Dignes would be livelier on a weekend.
I haven't been to Eze, but I believe that's easy enough by bus.
Eze-le-Village, Vence, St-Paul-de-Vence, Grand Canyon du Verdun and St-Tropez.
There are trains from Nice to Grasse. The trip takes just over an hour.
Thanks, acraven I updated my post. It takes 1h 15m by direct train from the Nice St Augustin station to Grasse.
I am literally here in Nice now making some of these trips without a car.
St. Paul de vence and vence were doable, but long without a car. Uber said 35 mins from my hotel, while using public transit took 1.5 hrs, and buses only run about once an hr… cheap though.. 1.5 euros each way. Vence btw was a virtual ghost town this past Monday. Lots of restaurants with signs that they’re closed for the season.
I’m going to eze village tomorrow by bus. 2 bus lines take you there.. takes 30 mins, runs roughly every hr, and cost 1-1.5 euros each way. I’ll be continuing to Monaco after by bus, then training back by train.
It would help to know how long you plan to be in Nice - two weeks, maybe? I really don't think you'll run out of places to see in that time period by public transportation. Now, if you want to cram in more spots, that's fine. But consider the time you'll spend finding places to park when trying to loop through 2-3 locations in a day. You won't spend much time seeing what's in these locations, I'm afraid.
@Janet. We will be there for 10 days as stated in the thread title.
Thanks for the replies from everyone. I don't plan to visit sites too inland like Grasse and Eze is still reachable by bus so a car doesn't seem too essential. If I do rent one it will be to check out the sites in Italy.
I find that the Italian side of the border is less appealing - Dolceacqua looks interesting and I like Sanremo (which is accessible by train), but otherwise I think that there are fewer highlights than in the French side. Therefore I would not dismiss the "inland" places; villages like Gourdon, Tourettes sur Loup or Peille are great places for an excursion from Nice!