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Train travel along French Riviera

We will be staying in Vence, and read there is a train along the Riviera. Is it a practical plan for us to catch the train, get off at a town to explore and have lunch, get back on train, go to next town to explore and have dinner, etc? Are the train terminals near the beaches? We'd like to see Cannes, Antibes, Ville Franche. Thanks!

Posted by
33305 posts

In those town, yes. In most towns, too, because the train frequently goes between the road and the sea.

Exceptions are Nice Ville and Monaco-Monte Carlo where the station is a little inland.

Yes, with the regional trains it is easy to get off, look around, and get on to go a little further. Or you can walk along the sea between most stations.

On most beaches if you intend to visit the shore, wear something to protect your feet - most of the beaches are either sharp gravel, sharp sand, or pebbles, not soft sand.

Posted by
16894 posts

Buses also provide quite a bit of service along the coast, so you can choose whichever looks most convenient at the time. Buy separate tickets for each leg. Vence itself is only served by bus, but you can connect to trains at Cagnes-sur-Mer.

Train lines are shown on Google Maps, if you zoom in, and maps in guidebooks, etc. How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it.

Posted by
11294 posts

Be sure to get Rick Steves Provence And The French Riviera. His general France book has much less information about this area.

In the book, he has all the details of getting between towns in the area by both train and bus. For towns west of Nice, trains are signficantly faster; for towns east of Nice, either train or bus work well. Of destinations higher up than the coast, the trains only go to Grasse, so you need a bus for St. Paul de Vence, Eze Village, La Turbie, Haut de Cagnes, etc.

Posted by
4064 posts

I doubt that these local trains are hop-on, hop-off, but I stand to be corrected by those who know better. Cannes is a centre for business conventions. St-Tropez is pleasant although the town centre requires a ferry ride; I kept thinking warm thoughts about Bridget Bardot. It was also one of several beaches invaded by the US army (with help from French Moroccans) a little after Normandy and rather overlooked in histories of the Second World War. I don't know of any particular monuments there, although there is a US military cemetery at Draguignan. Wikipedia has a useful discussion of that campaign, including a nice map of the beaches which were later invaded by bikinis (led by Bridget):

As always with rail travel,

Posted by
33305 posts

I doubt that these local trains are hop-on, hop-off,

I don't think that we have a clear definition of what that means.

The local PACA trains are fast and frequent and most stop at every station between Ventimiglia and Cannes or Grasse. Assuming correct ticketing you can ride them many stops or just one. You can get off, enjoy the area where you are and get on the next train. There is a gap around lunch time, but you'd expect that.

There are no reservations, available or required, you can sit upstairs or down, there are both first and second class parts of the train.

Ticket checks are on the honour system - when the conductor or inspector comes through you show them.

There are a few TGVs mixed in - they do require a higher fare and reservations even if only taking a short journey.

Posted by
10346 posts

Same as Nigel stated for the trains from Nice to Menton.

Posted by
33 posts

These comments are all very, very helpful. Thank you so much! Yes, we have Rick's book and would never travel without one It's been more than 30 years since I've been to the Riviera, and the traffic back in the 80's was horrific, and I can only believe that traveling by train is a better alternative to see these beach towns than driving and trying to park. And the tip about the military cemetery was great. It is on our way from Vence to Graveson, so we will definitely make a stop. Thank you again, all of you.