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Private car from Nice to Florence

We will be dropping off a rental car at Nice Airport in October and was looking for the best way to get to Florence from Nice. I think we have ruled out flying and taking the trains. Having taken the trains from Paris to Auxere we found it to be somewhat confusing. I have heard a private driver, while not inexpensive, is the best way to go. Has anyone used a private driver service they would recommend?

Posted by
6685 posts

What did you find confusing about train travel? Also, how do you define best?

If you want to hire someone to drive you from Nice to Florence you can of course to that, but "not inexpensive" is probably a bit of an understatement. Expect to pay 500-1000 € or more for that trip.

Posted by
38 posts

Thanks, Badger appreciate the feedback. We found it quite challenging to get a conductor aboard the train to tell us where we change and when? Frankly, they seemed put off by our questions and by chance we got off and caught the next train by accident. Obviously, we would prefer the train but not very confident in getting any help once we board especially with two changes en route to Florence. I know the cost of a private car is expensive, not something we relish doing, but we will if we need to. By best maybe I chose the wrong word. Looking for a private car and driver that is friendly, trustworthy, speaks good English and is helpful.

Posted by
2529 posts

You will know the stations you need to transfer at, and even the time the trains will arrive and depart that station, when you buy the tickets. Truly simple.

Posted by
6685 posts

We found it quite challenging to get a conductor aboard the train to
tell us where we change and when? Frankly, they seemed put off by our
questions and by chance we got off and caught the next train by
accident.

Why whould you need someone to tell you that? Why not just look at your ticket?

Obviously, we would prefer the train but not very confident in getting
any help once we board especially with two changes en route to
Florence.

What kind of help? It is not a particularly tricky route. The first change in Ventimiglia is very easy, it one of those traditional border stations with no (or few) through trains. It is the last station for the French train and there will be an Italian train waiting for you there. Genoa is a larger station, but nothing strange about it. The only thing to keep in mind is to leave your train at the correct station as the train might stop other stations before your station.

Posted by
3212 posts

Trains, if you are concerned about transfers, would not be the way to go. You’re going to be at the airport in Nice. I would fly. Usually changing planes once and then the convenient airport to Florence tram. Very easy, relatively inexpensive, fast. Most likely would be under €250 total for both of you.

Posted by
33339 posts

I see the comments here about how to make the train journey easier, which I agree with, but instead of paying some stranger to drive you if you really can't take the train, can you extend your rental and drive yourself to Florence and drop the car there? At least you would go at your own speed and can read the road signs to tell you when to change roads.

You would have to pay for a drop charge but probably no worse, no matter how high it is, than the cost of a driver plus their hotel and meals and return cost.

Sorry it is difficult for you...

Posted by
3803 posts

I am assuming that you are dropping the car off at the beginning of your time in Nice. If it is at the end of the trip, then why not fly or drive yourself although if you drive yourself, you will probably get a ZTL ticket. The last time I check, the drop off fee was 600€. I would take the train but if you want to take a car service for around 900€, try Napoleonn.fr.
If you take the train, this train trip might take you through Milan or Genoa from Ventimiglia. You can't miss the Milan station -- just listen for the words Milano Centrale. Unlike French, they pronounce all syllables in Italian so after around 3 hours and 30 minutes of travel time, when you hear the words Milano Centrale, you will know your stop is coming up soon. You should also look at your ticket and see what station you will exit the train and how long the travel time to that station will be. That way you can start getting ready for your exit a couple of minutes before you arrive at your station. For Florence you will be listening for the word "Firenze." I am sorry that you had issues before but I think you can do it this time.
I have been on many French trains on which I never saw a conductor so you should not depend on seeing a conductor. The conductor was probably caught off guard by your question and unless you speak French fluently or he or she speaks English fluently, there may have been some communication gaps.

Posted by
4175 posts

I agree with those who have said that the train would be your best choice to get from Nice Ville train station to Firenze S.M.N. (Santa Maria Novella).

Using the DB Bahn search, I found multiple options with only 2 train changes. One is obviously at the border, Ventimiglia. There's a very generous transfer time of 28 minutes between its arrival and the connecting Italian train's departure for Milano Centrale.

That's where you'd change for Firenze S.M.N. The transfer time there is 15 minutes, also very generous.

The 2 change itinerary is a 7 hour 14 minute journey. It sounds long, but would be shorter than flying since there are no nonstop flights. I checked Google Flights about that.

It would also probably be shorter than driving and would definitely be dramatically cheaper, no matter who drives. And you'd go through many charming small towns and see some of the countryside along the way.

I know it sounds daunting. But if you watch the information boards at the train stations, ask questions there if you are confused, watch the electronic boards on the train and listen for the announcements (which will likely include English as one of the languages used), you should get from Nice to Florence just fine.

Below is the link to DB Bahn. You can't buy your ticket through them. You'd need to get it in Nice or beforehand. In either case, you should be able to buy it for both the French and the Italian trains.

But you can get the train options by searching and click on links for the details of the trip. The schedule information for October won't be there yet, but you can play around with the DB search page to get an idea of the possibilities.

https://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query2.exe/en

Good luck with your trip planning. You are starting early and that is always a good idea.

Posted by
11534 posts

Apart from the cost of a hired driver for that distance, is finding someone who is licensed in both countries to perform that service.

Some of the derisive comments about OP not finding the trains easy seem to fail to adhere to Rule 2

Posted by
10369 posts

Paris to Auxerre is a local train and those can be very confusing because little is marked. The first time I took the local train to a village in Burgundy, I got off too early and ended up walking ten kilometers carrying a duffle. In Italy, my husband and I took a local train in the wrong direction. Heck, we wasted an hour going the wrong direction on the subway in Brooklyn in December. PITA.
But your train from Nice to the border is a modern, double-decker, local commuter that runs every twenty minutes. In Ventimille, a small station, your second train will be marked Milano, which is a terminal station. You can’t go further. Then you change to the Florence train. All the trains will have electronic notification boards inside the train cars, unlike those old train cars that go to Auxerre.

And by the way, I truly dislike the old TER trains in France except for short trips. Just yesterday I bought a Flixbus ticket for a trip because the TGVs were sold out for my dates and I would have had to have taken three local trains. Ugh.

Posted by
38 posts

Thank you all for the great comments and advice - seems like the train is the way we will travel. you've been very helpful.

Posted by
10369 posts

Good for you, Rob. Please report back so we know how it went for you.