You really don’t need a car in Nice, with a good city centre location, I would suggest, east of the Negresco, west of the Port, south of Bvd Dubouchage/ Victor Hugo, you can walk to the best parts of Nice itself, while good public transport carries you further afield.
Nice is designed for walking, urban Europe at its very best. The pedestrianised shopping streets round Place Massena, Rue Halevy, Alphonse Karr, Rue de France, Rue Alberti, Vieux Nice, the Port, the Promenade des Anglais, art deco buildings behind the Negresco, all offer hugely varied city walks.
For a more rustic workout, take the stairs from Parc du Castel on Avenue du Mont-Alban, across Mt. Alban/Mt Boron and down the other side into Villefranche. Plus coastal walks track the 100 bus route from Nice to Menton, magnificently tended walkways stretch almost all the way from Nice Airport to the italian border, there are amazingly few breaks.
BIKES AND HIRE CARS
The Velo Bleu racks arrived in Nice July 2009. In 2011, there are excellent bike tracks from Cannes to Nice, through the centre of Nice and along the promenade, with a great airport bypass, that doubles as a pedestrian walk way in this rather overly car orientated part of town. www.velobleu.org.
Peugeot Ion and Citroen Berlingo Electric cars working along the same lines are also now operational. 17 stations to begin with, ca 50 cars, priced at less than 10€ an hour, 50€ a day with a 300 € caution. Plus free parking around town.
Update in Dec 2012
After 5 years of chaos during the tram construction, the public transportation in Nice and the surrounding area has improved enormously, especially the buses. The Gare Routiere was demolished in 2012 and the car park / old bus station area are in the process of being transformed into a couloir vert of green pathways and fountains. Expected completion 2013.
Trams on Line 1 run from the Las Planas Terminus in the north, past the Gare SNCF, along Jean Medecin to Place Massena, above Vieux Nice, across Place Garibaldi, to Pont St Michel in the east. It crosses 67 streets, said to be a record for French trams, has right of way and hopefully discourages drivers from using the inner city centre.
As a visitor staying centrally, the Tram is unlikely to take you anywhere you can’t walk. However, it’s a useful way to get from Vieux Nice to the main SNCF station - a 30 minute walk.
Its the the 1€ bus/tram fares that will really make you smile.
From Mandelieu in the West, to Menton in the East, winding up to the Grasse, Vence, St Paul de Vence, Haut de Cagnes, Eze etc.. 1€ will even get you to the ski slopes of Isola 2000 and Auron… for this route on winter weekends its wise to book in advance.
You can buy day passes, weekly passes and 10€ strip cards that work in Nice as far as Cagnes sur Mer and Cap d’Ail.
Bus information from the Ligne d’Azur office on Place Massena, its next to the Nespresso shop on the western side. Tickets, schedules, maps all available to pick up , along with remarkable queues on occasions. The web site is generally well maintained and up to date these days http://www.lignedazur.com/.
The airport bus 98 costs more.. 4€ – which can create the odd interesting moment, as people try to use the west bound routes which pass the airport. Drivers sometimes simply refuse to take you with bags it now travels between the Airport and Gare de Riquier the SNCF stop in the east of Nice. The 4€ ticket also allows you to use any of the Ligne D’azur buses or the tram til midnight on the day of purchase.
The 98 bus now drops you at the stop Segurane just past Place Garibaldi on Rue Sincaire virtually at the driveway to La Providence where our apartment Clocktower is.
To head back to the airport from here go to the Place Garibaldi/Rue Cassini stop, there is a one way system for the buses.
The 100 bus from Nice to Monaco (and on to Menton) runs every 15 minutes until around 19.00, the last bus leaving at 20.00. Fabulous scenic trip but always busy and rush hours are best avoided.
Buses heading to the hills and the east are an excellent choice but if you are heading west to Cannes or Antibes take the train.
The 100 bus and departures to the west leave from the centre of the current WORKs between the Brasserie pub Mac Mahons on Jean Jaures and the Brasserie Felix Faure.
Cannes to Vintimille in Italy is the biggest French commuter line outside Paris, and since 1998 the number of daily trains between Marseille/ Toulon and Nice/Monaco/Ventimille has gone up from 250 to 700. Monaco bought new trains recently, and in 2010 and into 2011 work went on to strengthen the Monaco tunnel. 2012 – This is now completed and the new train schedule implemented.
Schedules change regularly so its worth picking up the latest from Nice SNCF main station on Ave Theirs or the SNCF boutique in Rue de la Buffa, across Jean Medecin from Galeries Lafayette. The Grasse-Cannes leg is particularly prone to wild cat strikes and general delays.
Work continues on installing a 3rd rail track between Cannes/ Antibes/ Nice, which should help bottle necks, with the aim in 2015 to run 3 trains per hour - more than double the current average. The 1st phase has started, Antibes and Cagnes sur Mer. 8 km is almost completed the 2nd phase Cagnes sur Mer to Nice should start in 2013 and open in 2014.