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How to travel from Nice France to Barcelona Spain

Hi all: we are a total of 4 ppl traveling in June 2020 on best of spain tour (Barcelona and Madrid). before arriving in Barcelona I want to fly into Nice and explore MOnte Carlo for a day or 2.. How do we travel from Nice to Barcelona ? would prefer rail ..how do we do that? do we need a euro rail pass? any ideas?

Posted by
8889 posts

Yes you can travel from Nice to Barcelona by train.
The best info site for train travel is "The Man in Seat 61". He even has a section specifically about that route.
To save me typing, just read this: https://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Nice.htm#Nice-Barcelona

"do we need a euro rail pass?" - No!, that comment shouts "I am a train newbie". For trains you buy tickets, from A to B just like other modes of transport. In many cases they are much cheaper bought in advance. Passes are only of use if you are doing a lot of trips, and often even then it is still cheaper to buy tickets for each train in advance.
The aforementioned "Man in Seat 61" site explains all.

Edit: and it is much too early to buy tickets for next June. Normally 2-3 months in advance maximum.
If you look for 2-3 months from now (Feb-Mar) you will get an idea of times and costs.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you so much for this invaluable info!!! what did we do before we had these forums available to exchange ideas??? LOL!! thank you again!!

Posted by
3116 posts

You didn’t ask, but I’m going to give you my opinion anyway. Monte Carlo is not worth one day, much less two. There are many much more worthwhile sights in and around Nice. Since we have no clue as to the interests of your group members, I’ll just suggest you go to Trip Advisor, put “Nice” as the destination, then click on “what to do.”

Posted by
12 posts

Hi Rosalyn:thank you so much! I appreciate all input.. I'm travelling with my husband and family (18 and 23 yrs old) but I just thought it looked beautiful . I'd like to see the Riviera ... any suggestions on where to go ?

Posted by
18741 posts

The train from Nice to Barcelona takes 9-1/2 hours. I'd consider that totally out of the question for you, because it represents a huge percentage of the time you have to (potentially) sightsee in France. You need to fly.

In addition, allow me to say that I would find two days in southern France wildly frustrating and would never recommend that someone go there for such a short time. There are so many attractive places to see, even if you focus (as you must) only on the Riviera and don't try to get to Provence. Two days, with the first day probably sleep-deprived and jetlagged, gives you about one real day. Maybe you'll have time to see two tiny places if you basically ignore Nice itself.

So if you cannot add a few days to allow for more time in France, I urge you to skip it altogether and see things the tour misses in Spain. The tour gives you just one full day in Barcelona plus a few hours on arrival day. I say Barcelona needs at least four days, or three if you don't mind constantly looking at your watch as you run from sight to sight. The tour doesn't go to Girona, which has a lovely, walled medieval historic district, two interesting churches, a good art museum, etc. It's worth more than a full day. Art fans might want to push on to Figueres to see the Dali Theatre-Museum, but with limited time I'd stick to Girona.

OK, back to the idea of a quick look at southern France...

There are many, many lovely spots along the Riviera. I imagine we each have our favorites. I'd suggest starting with a look at Rick's guide book focusing on southern France, which I understand has a lot more detail than the big "France" guide book.

Tell us your priorities and suggestions will probably flow.

Are you interested in art? If yes, Nice, St-Paul-de-Vence, Antibes and Biot are among the places with worthwhile museums; Nice has at least 6.

Markets? Some cities and towns have a great weekly (or more frequent) market. What days of the week will you be in the area?

Picturesque coastal towns? The TER (local train) runs frequently and stops just about everywhere except St-Tropez.

Hill towns? It takes longer to get to these, which will be a consideration for you, but you could squeeze in one.

How do you feel about cities vs. towns? Is tiny better rather than larger?

How do you feel about crowds? Some of the most picturesque spots get slammed with day-trippers so that you're likely to feel like part of a mob during your visit. The hill town of St-Paul-de-Vence felt like that for me, as did the historic core of Menton.

I haven't been to Monaco, but I have noticed--after reading a huge number of posts on this forum--that it is no one's favorite place, and most folks don't much recommend it. I spent two weeks in Nice and didn't bother going to Monaco, so I don't have a personal opinion about it.

Posted by
16849 posts

I believe you are taking RS Best of Barcelona and Madrid tour, not the tour titled "Best of Spain," so some of the timing that acraven assumed in the reply above will be off. The tour spends 3 nights in Barcelona and 4 nights in Madrid.

But I agree that flying is usually both faster and cheaper than train on this route, and can be booked further ahead. Try www.skyscanner.com.

Do look at https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/france/french-riviera and Rick's guidebook for the same area.

Posted by
6825 posts

How to travel from Nice France to Barcelona Spain

I would a fly in 1 hour 20 minutes in the air.

Posted by
12 posts

Wow, lots of info from all of you .. better than any travel agent. thank you again! I am taking the tour which is Best of Barcelona and Madrid so 3 nights in Barcelona and 4 nights in Madrid.. .. so was thinking (as I said) going to Nice first , then it sounds like I need to fly down to Barcelona instead of taking a train.. to maybe see the Riviera .. I'll have to do more research on that OR just fly into Barcelona a couple of days earlier than tour starts and rent a car and go to southern france like Provence . I'm looking to arrive in Barcelona on a saturday ,stay 1 night upon arrival , then the next day (sunday) drive to France and then return to Barcelona on tuesday. just a keep trip. what is best place to go to close to Barcelona but in France that has some nice sights.. I like country since I will be in the cities (barcelona and Madrid ) for this trip.

Posted by
18741 posts

Thanks, Laura. I should have realized I was thinking of the wrong tour. But I still say I'd go to Girona rather than spending a lot of time traveling up to France for not much more than a day in an area that's worth so much more than that.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks again Acraven.. Girona sounds lovely..! I still would love to drive to France ..and be able to make a little day trip maybe stay overnight somewhere. any suggestions?

Posted by
8889 posts

Between Barcelona and the French border, Girona is worth a visit.
Also Cadaqués on the coast

If you drive from Barcelona to France, you must cross the border using the coast road, via Portbou and Cerbère.
The main road (autopista/autoroute and old main road), goes over a pass via La Perthus. The route I suggest goes round the end of the Pyrenees, through coastal villages in mountainous bays.
For example Collioure (photo): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Collioure_002.jpg

Google streetview of the road just a few 100 metres on the French side of the border: https://goo.gl/maps/rb2A7tofSXsUy42w6

Posted by
18741 posts

If you're driving up from Barcelona, you won't want to go too far or else you'll spend all your time inside the car. The small coastal town of Collioure (pop. 2800), while touristy, is very picturesque. It's the first place you come to that folks seem to recommend, and I liked it myself. ViaMichelin estimates the driving time at about 2-1/4 hours each way. Remember the time you'll waste dealing with a rental-car agency, though. There are public-transit options that wouldn't take an awful lot longer; all require at least one transfer and some involve a bus.

Inland from Collioure is the small town of Ceret (pop. 7700), a much less touristy destination. Maybe 30 minutes from Collioure.

Skipping past Perpignan (interesting but not especially lovely) the next obvious destination would be Narbonne, which is considerably larger than Collioure at about 53,000 people. ViaMichelin estimates 2 hr. 45 min. straight to Narbonne, or you can get there by fast train in about 2 hours.

If you hang a left at Narbonne you will end up in Carcassonne, where I've never been. VM estimates about 3 hr. 10 min. from Barcelona. The consensus is that you need to spend the night in Carcassonne to see it when the leagues of day-trippers have gone home.

The good news is that ViaMichelin indicates three possible routes to Carcassonne, so you could do a loop trip if you have a car, though it would take considerably longer than traveling out and back on the same route. The second path would take you near (through??) the Pyrenees, passing the very pretty hill town of Puigcerda. Note that this valley, the Cerdanya, can be very hot in the summer. The third path would take you through Ripoll (interesting church) and Vic (I think worthwhile, but I haven't been there).

I am not suggesting that you try to see Collioure, Ceret, Narbonne and Puigcerda (or Ripoll/Vic) if you have only about 48 hours available, but you can use ViaMichelin.com to play around with the options for various stops along the way.

Parking is likely to be an issue at all the potential destinations, and you could easily have quite a walk from your parking place to the historic area you want to see. Traffic could slow you down as well.

Posted by
7530 posts

You could take a local/commuter train to the border and switch to a local French train and visit just over the border. It’s 2 hours each way, not worth the schlep to me, but you may enjoy the change of language, cuisine.... Provence is a long trip—taking you back to that 9.5 hour haul by train.

To get an idea of routes and distances, use rome2rio.com and plug in your points.

Posted by
11261 posts

I agree with everyone else. I like Monaco more than most others seem to, but it's hardly worth such a detour for just a day or two.

I know you feel that you're getting "more travel" if you see more than one country on a single trip, but really all it adds is complexity. You spend more time (and money) in transit than actually seeing places. In your situation, I'd add time to places in Spain. Consider getting to Spain a day or two early and seeing something easily reached from Barcelona. Look at Girona (wonderful), Tarragona, Sitges, etc.

Posted by
12 posts

I totally agree with what you are saying. I think i'm so caught up with making sure I see perhaps another country but as you say its too complex (too expensive) and I won't end up seeing anything. thank you again for the advice! those places sound lovely and others on this forum said it as well!

Posted by
3116 posts

Now that it’s clear about Nice, I will join the others who have advised that you will get more bang for your tourist time and money by confining yourselves to the area around Barcelona and the closely adjacent part of France. I concur with what has been said about Girona.
Someone mentioned Ceret. If you like modern art, it houses a French Museum of Modern Art. Picasso and several others of his generation spent some years living there. The town is very picturesque, with ceramic reproductions of some of the works also scattered about outdoors.
The Spanish Costa Brava has many interesting towns. If you are interested in ancient history, Empuries has a Greek and a Roman archaeological site, with an accompanying museum.
There are many towns in the Pyrenees with quite wonderful medieval churches and monasteries.
One caution about using viamichelin estimates of driving times, that someone mentioned, is that it is generally thought to be wise to add 25%.