Transport Strike Strategies

Strike protest sign

Typically, French strike season strikes twice a year, the months of April/May (to coincide with spring break, the Cannes Film Festival, Monaco Grand Prix, and Mother’s day holidays… sympa!), and during all of autumn, where it is almost a back-to-school ritual.

Strike season usually features a rolling series of bus strikes, train strikes, striking pilots and air-traffic controllers, protest marches, and who-knows-what-else.  The locals are annoyed by this semi-yearly ritual, but just do that Gaelic shrug and put up with it.  So do as the locals do, perfect your shrug, and use these work-arounds and strike strategies for dealing with the transport strikes in Nice:

Getting Around a Train Strike

During a train strike, you can easily replace that train trip:

  • Simply book a ride-share with BlaBla Car (easy and very cheap!)
  • Take a bus, provided they are not on strike, too…
  • Thanks to a Sarkozy law requiring minimum service during train strikes, there are usually around 1/4 of the trains still running, but know that they sometimes get around this by substituting a bus (‘car‘ in French) which leaves from the front of the train station.  To find out what will be running, click here for the day’s schedule from Nice, or download the free SNCF app for up-to-date schedules for the day.   In the top corner of the app click on Info Traffic, then Greve, then your line (for Nice, it’s Les Arcs Nice Vintimille).  If the train is listed on the app, it will run.
  • Check if the private Italian train line Thello is running.  As they are not French, their trains are often running when the French ones aren’t.  They have five trains a day that hit all the major stops in both directions, are clean, comfortable and reliable, and you can buy your ticket on-line in English.
  • Book a private transfer (not too expensive if you are 3-7 people)
  • Take an Uber.  The app gives you the estimated trip cost before you commit, and  again, if you split the cost between 2-3 people, it’s not so bad, even to go to Cannes or Monaco.
  • Or, if you are going far (Marseilles, Paris, Spain, Italy…), check out the very competitively priced long-haul private buses going to your destination.

If the Airport Express Bus is on strike you still have many choices:

  • From the airport, get on the free airport wifi and order an Uber-X for half the price of a taxi (18-20€)… it will be there in 10 minutes.  But beware of ‘surge pricing’, and if your Uber app announces anything over 1.8%, just hop in a taxi as it will be roughly the same price.
  • Order a private transfer ahead of time as a fixed price (35€) and breathe easy.  I recommend  Friend in France.
  • …Or you can always walk out to the Promenade and try to catch a city bus for 1.50€ (if they are not on strike as well!) but know that if a bus is already full, it won’t even stop, so you could be there for a while… (then just call an Uber for plan B).
  • If you are heading to Monaco or Cannes and are traveling alone, take a helicopter!  It will cost you just 30-40€ more than a taxi, and will be a thrilling 7-minute ride you will never forget… versus languishing in strike-blocked traffic while the meter runs!  One way is 140€ to Monaco and 160€ to Cannes.
  • Nice airport is one of the few European airports really close to town, so if you are travelling light, you can always walk along the scenic Promenade des Anglais.  Airport to Old Town is 6 miles/10 kilometers, and central Nice is even closer.
  • To get from Nice back to the airport, use an Uber, taxi or private transfer, but just leave for the airport really early, as bus/train strikes tend to snarl up traffic.

Around Town During a Bus Strike

Overall, the best solution to bus strikes is just to use Uber to replace a bus trip, even a short one: Uber is 8€ for around 5 kilometers, so if you are 4 people going to the Matisse museum, that’s only slightly more than 4 bus tickets, and infinitely more comfortable and friendly.  Again, just beware of surge pricing.

Bus strikes are a great time to break out of your routine and try something new:

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