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Cote D'Azur train/bus travel - can this be done?

Cote D'Azur train/bus travel - can this be done?

Old May 29th, 2002, 11:06 AM
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Cote D'Azur train/bus travel - can this be done?

Hi, I'm just putting the finishing touches on our Provence/Cote D'Azur itinerary and I was wondering if the following train/bus travel is feasible. I've checked the train schedules on the Die Bahn website so I know the routes & times, but I'm not sure if this is logistically the best method. Any comments would be appreciated.

1. We're staying in Nice and would like to see Menton, Monaco, Eze and Villefranche-sur-Mer in one day. We know it's rushed but we are up to the challenge if we just spend a few hours at each town. My question is, if we purchase a round trip Nice-Menton train ticket, are we allowed to make stops at all these towns along the way and get back on the train? or would we have to purchase individual point-to-point tickets?

2. We'd like to see Cannes, Antibes and Grasse in one day. I was thinking of taking the train to Cannes, then catching the bus to Grasse, then bus to Antibes, then training back to Nice. Will our train ticket from Nice to Cannes allow us to stopover at Antibes? Is there anywhere online where I can see the bus schedules to/from Grasse? and Vence/St.Paul de Vence for that matter?

We do have an extra day to see the above towns if we don't get to them as per the above itinerary. But these towns are along the same route so it seems efficient to visit them in order. If we were to drop one of the above places, which should it be? Grasse is a must-see because my friend is a perfume nut.

3. To get from Nice back to Paris, we were thinking of taking an early train to Avignon (3 hours), seeing Avignon, and then catching the high speed train from Avignon to Paris (3 hours). This beats just taking a straight 6 hour train from Nice to Paris. Are there left-luggage lockers at the Avignon-TGV station so we can drop off our stuff and explore?

Thanks for any help!
Old May 30th, 2002, 06:59 AM
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Anna: We did the Cote d'Azur by train/bus this spring. We stayed in Nice the whole time as our center of operations, but I think if I had to do over again, I'd stay in Villefranche or Antibes. I liked Nice, and we had a great time there, but the grafitti and the dog poop do start to get to you after awhile.

I liked not having a car--the train route and bus routes are really good, and we as a family like to be really busy all the time. We did daytrips by rail or bus every day with minimal hassle.

Here are my answers based on our experience:

Question 1. I don't know if you can get on and off legally on the train, but we did it. But, but, but...having been to all the towns you did, there is no way and no reason to see all those towns in one day. It's not the travel time to the towns on the rail: it's the working your way through the towns in an enjoyable manner when you get there (I assure you we walk fast!!). A good grouping would be Menton/Monaco or Eze/Villefranche-sur-Mer/Beaulieu. Please remember that Eze is not accessible by train. Eze sur Mer is. You have to get a connection by bus to Eze or walk up the cliffside path. We took the hike up and liked it, even if there's not much up there. It's the best view on the coast.

Question 2. I think doing Antibes and Cannes in one day is fine. They make sense on the rail route, and although we're walkers/hikers, we used the little tourist trains near the beach to do two different quick surveys of Cannes so that we could combine Cannes and Antibes in one day. Would like to have taken the boats to the islands, but the weather was so awful that day that even if the man in the Iron Mask were still alive, we weren't budging.

Doing Grasse with these towns doesn't make much sense timewise. In fact, as a family, we hated Grasse--visiting it was our worst decision of the trip. It was a long trip to a town that didn't "rank" with the beauty of the other towns/villages in the area. A stop at the village of Mougins on the bus trip up to Grasse was one of our more serendipitous decisions, though.

Therefore, I would group Antibes, Cannes and add possibly Cagnes sur Mer (to visit the Grimaldi Castle area in Haut Cagnes sur Mer and to visit the house of Renoir just up from the town center bus area).

Or by bus directly from Nice you could do Vence, St. Paul de Vence and Cagnes sur Mer. Just be alert for the St. Paul de Vence bus stop--we weren't the only people who have passed it!

Anna, when I was driving myself nuts deciding how to schedule the Provence/Cote d'Azur in 10 days, two persons on this board gave good advice. The first person said that to make the trip enjoyable, I should limit the stretches of Cote d'Azur and Provence to visit or just pick either area and enjoy it. The second person said that instead of worrying about the train via Avignon, take the 1 1/2 flight from Paris to Nice and be done with it--told me it would be just as cheap as the TGV if not cheaper and that my family might then still like me by the end of the trip.

So I threw away my Die Bahn intinerary, got $123 rt airflights Paris/Nice, and plan on seeing Provence next Spring. And my family does still like me (they have yet to forgive me, though, for my overscheduling in Maui four years ago).

My personal tip: if you are museum rats, buy the Cote d'Azur Carte Musee. It gets you into 62 museums on the coast. We saw 30 of them (we started saving money by the fourth or fifth museum). It does not get you into the Maeght Foundation Musee in St. Paul de Vence, but that's OK. We loved that museum so much we're going back to St. Paul de Vence when we do Provence next spring.
Old May 30th, 2002, 08:05 PM
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Hi Amy, thanks so much for your tips. Unfortunately we only have 4 nights on the Cote D'Azur, so we must cram in as much as we can reasonably see. Our hotel for Nice is already booked (we're leaving tomorrow!) so Villefranche or Antibes as a base is not an option for us.

Re: grouping Menton/Monaco and Eze/Villefranche-sur-Mer/Beaulieu, those are good ideas, but we also wish to see Vence and St. Paul de Vence so one of these trips must go. What if we skip Eze altogether? It is difficult to reach as you say, and since there's not much up there except the view (which I'm sure is lovely) it might not be worth the effort. We can therefore do Menton/Monaco and Villefranche-sur-Mer in the same day, yes?

Thanks for the tip on Grasse-- I'll try to wiggle out of seeing it. The museum pass sounds like a good deal.. I'll do more research on it. And I'd love to fly back to Paris from Nice, but since we already have rail passes we must make do. We got a great deal on the flexi-pass: for $199 we get 5 travel days in first class in 3 connecting countries.

Thanks again for your tips!! ok off to finish packing!!
Old May 30th, 2002, 09:41 PM
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Amy, thanks for such an informative post. I've saved it for future reference. Anna, have a great trip and don't miss Fondation Maeght in St. Paul de Vence, like Amy I thought it was worth a second visit.
Old May 30th, 2002, 09:47 PM
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I did Cannes, Grasse, Antibes in one day by bus/train. We took bus from Nice to Grasse, visited Fragonard perfumerie, took a bus to Cannes, walked around little, took a train to Antibes then back to Nice.

You have to choose where you want to spend time. We spent most time in Grasse, about an hour in Cannes and rest in Antibes. We enjoyed our visit at Fragonard. But since you are also visiting Eze, you can also visit the perfumerie there instead.
Old May 31st, 2002, 04:10 AM
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Anna, we just returned from one week in Nice. Don't forget to go to the Chagall museum,there. It was wonderful. If you are in Nice on the first Sunday of the month, all museums are free that day.

We took the bus to St. Paul de Vence. Tell the driver to let you know when you arrive there. It was a wonderful day. We visited the Meight Foundation Museum which was a delight.

Another day we took the bus to Eze village. The bus takes you right to the village. It is much smaller than St. Paul. The big plus is the exotic garden and the seaviews. From Eze, the bus goes to Monaco. We had planned to go to Villefranche, but the bus went only to Monaco. So off to Monaco we went.

I am telling you this because you really have to pick and choose with your length of time. Monaco deserves a whole day. So does St. Paul de Vence.

I always say....less is more.

Whatever you decide, have a wonderful time!
Old May 31st, 2002, 05:13 AM
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I agree that Grasse is not worth the detour. You might as well go to Yankee Candle...anyway, Eze and St Paul de Vence are worthy of a day each. Agree with the less is more approach.
Old May 31st, 2002, 06:50 AM
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Kris, you made my day with the comment about Grasse and Yankee Candle. I'm sure my entire family would agree, but I'm not going to show them--it was my idea to go to Grasse on the trip, and they're never going to let me forget it.
Old May 31st, 2002, 08:22 AM
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Amy - glad you got a chuckle, but don't beat yourself up about it too much - we all make travel mistakes! Anna - if your friend really is a perfume nut, there will be lots of opportunities to experience them without necessarily going to Grasse. I envy you - this is a great time of year to go - we went a bit earlier in spring, so I'm not sure what will be blooming (lavender, etc) but just the perfume and color from the fields will be amazing!
Old Sep 11th, 2003, 07:46 AM
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As i am nervous about driving the steep mountainous roads, i was glad to read that it's possible to tour the area and still visit villages such as Eze by train or bus. But as i'll be travelling in late October, would appreciate if someone can tell me if buses/trains still run during that period. Thanks!
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Old Sep 11th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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Hi Xuanie,

I'm sure the trains and busses run all year long since people live in these towns...they're not just for tourists.

If going to Eze you'll need to know that there are 2 towns called Eze. One is on the coast (Eze-sur-Mer) and accessible by train. This is NOT the town you want. You want Eze Village which you can only get to by bus since it's up in the hills.

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