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Long-distance buses are rare; regional buses are found mainly where train service is spotty. The weakest rail links in the south lie in the Luberon region of the Vaucluse, in the Alpilles, and in the backcountry of the Haut Var, Haute-Provence, and the pre-Alpes behind Nice. To explore these regions, you must work closely with a bus schedule (available at most train stations) and plan connections carefully. Don't plan on too much multistop sightseeing if you're limited to bus connections, as they rarely dovetail with your plans. To visit the popular hill towns just behind the Côte d'Azur—Grasse, St-Paul, Vence, and Biot—you can catch a regional bus or watch for commercial bus excursions advertised in the bigger coastal resorts. Tourist offices provide information on accompanied excursions. Excursions and bus holidays are organized by the SNCF and a plethora of private tour companies. Ask for more information from the local tourism office.
Buses from the United Kingdom generally depart from London, traveling via hovercraft or ferry from London to Paris. The most direct bus route to the south is from London to Avignon; Eurolines' weekly nonstop service takes 17½ hours and costs £89 round-trip—although check the website before booking as there are often deals that allow you to travel for much less.
If you're planning to travel extensively through Europe, you may wish to purchase a Eurolines Europass, valid for unlimited bus travel between 90 European cities (London, Paris, and Marseille included) for up to 60 days.
Le Pilote (www.lepilote.com.)
Rapides Côte d'Azur. Destinations for these express buses, which travel along the A8 highway, include Nice Monaco, and Cannes. 04–93–85–64–44. www.rca.tm.fr.
SNCF (36–35 in France [€0.34 per min]. www.sncf.com.)
Eurolines France (08–92–89–90–91 in France [€0.34 per min]. www.eurolines.fr.)