By plane, train, yacht, and more: the Côte d'Azur travel and traffic infrastructure
The French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) is the Mediterranean coastline of France extending from Toulon through Monaco to the border with Italy. The Côte d'Azur is one of the most popular recreational and holiday home-buying destinations among international investors: about 70% of the transactions in the local real estate market involve foreign buyers. Nearly 12 million tourists visit the coastal resorts annually, and 100,000 foreign nationals reside there.
One of the reasons for the Côte d'Azurresorts' popularity among property buyers and an important advantage of the region is transport accessibility. You can get to the Riviera by plane, train, bus, car, cruise liner or your own yacht.
You can travel between the coastal cities by railroad, as well as public and private motor and water transport. The owners of property in Côte d'Azur living in such calm and cosy places as Grasse, Mougins and Biot can get to the best beaches of Antibes or Juan-les-Pins in no more than twenty to thirty minutes.
You can come to the Côte d'Azur resorts from the airports of Marseille, Toulon or Nice. Cannes also has an airport for small private aircrafts.
The most convenient airport – that of Nice (Nice Côte d'Azur) – is one of the largest by volume of passenger traffic in France: it receives about 12 million passengers per annum.
Direct flights to Nice from Moscow or St. Petersburg take about four hours, and a round-trip ticket costs 20,000 RUB on average.
The railway connection on the Côte d'Azur is provided by the high-speed TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) and the TER (Transport Express Régional) rail services.
The TER trains are the most convenient for travel between the Côte d'Azur resorts: they take you from Nice to Villefranche-sur-Mer in seven to ten minutes, to Cannes in forty-five minutes and to Grasse in seventy minutes.
The Italian Ventimiglia, where you can change trains and get to almost any city of Italy, is only two hours away from Cannes. The trains run from the Nice railway station (Gare de Nice-Ville) to all the aforementioned destinations every thirty or so minutes.
The high-speed TGV trains connect the resorts of southern France to Paris, Marseille, Lyon and other cities of the country: Paris is five and a half hours away by high-speed train and Marseille is two and a half hours away.
You can buy the TER and TGV train tickets via the SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français) national railway company website and the station’s ticket offices or machines. When boarding, you need to punch the ticket, otherwise it will not be considered valid and you will be fined.
As little as 2% of the area’s tourists arrive by water transport (yachts and cruise ships). However, the port of Nice (Port Lympia) is one of the most important in the country: about 300 ships and 550,000 passengers pass through the sea gate annually.
Each big coastal city on the Riviera has its own port and yacht marina, while the ports of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Antibes, Cannes and Monaco also receive such large vessels as cruise ships.
You can always rent a cabin cruiser or a yacht, or take a sea taxi, to get to a destination on the coast. For example, a ride from Nice to Cannes on a sea taxi will cost you about €40, and a ride from Cannes to Monaco will cost about €50.
The Côte d'Azur has an excellent public transport infrastructure: the cities are interconnected by dozens of bus routes. The tickets cost €1.5 per ride on average, and you can also buy a ten-ride ticket for €10. You must punch the ticket you buy from the driver. You can use the same ticket within 74 minutes of your purchase if you change buses.
The buses run from 6 a.m.to 9 p.m. The information on the schedule and routes is available on the SNCF official website, as well as at bus stations, tourist offices and newsstands.
More than half of the foreign visitors who come to the Riviera arrive by car or bike. However, renting a car is only recommended if you are going to travel across the distant coastal areas not covered by public transport: the constant traffic jams and scarce parking spaces make the lives of Côte d'Azur automobilists challenging.
The parking areas are free only on the outskirts of the resorts, while in the centre of Nice and Cannes, even paid parking spaces are often hard to find (they cost €1.5 per hour on average). In addition, according to local regulations, the maximum time for parking in the streets is two to three hours: when it expires, you need to return to your car and get a new parking voucher.
Another problem the drivers have on the Riviera is that some roads are turnpikes. These are marked with blue signs at the start (the free roads are marked with green ones). The one-time toll is not high; for instance, the price is €3 from the Nice airport to Cannes and €20 to Marseille. If you often go on trips along the cost, however, then it is better to budget for this expense as well.