Nice RandoBus for Hiking

Hikers now have a ride up to the mountains: a dedicated hiking bus up to multiple mountain villages in the Mercantour, for just 10€ round trip!

It’s a great service for those without a car, or even those with a car: with the RandoBus there is no parking hassle, no gas, no taking multiple cars for a group …plus you can meet new like-minded people on the way up, and nap on the way back to Nice!

How to buy the Ticket:  Tickets are online-only, so you’ll have to sign up for a Lignes d’Azur account (in English), then reserve your seat and pay for the ticket online at least one day before.

Schedule:  The RandoBus runs Friday/Saturday/Sunday July through the end of August (then just Sat/Sun through September) and all buses leave from the tram stop Grand Arenas near the airport.

Trails:  Once you arrive, head directly for the tourist office, where you can get trail maps and advice in English on choosing the best ‘piste‘ for you.  In general, French trails are well marked with ‘balises‘ placed just where you need them.

Bus #90 La Bolline is the main hiking bus which winds up the Vesubie valley and stops in numerous towns with super hikes, including Roquebilliere (with connecting shuttles to the hot springs, or to Gordolasque),  Saint-Martin-Vesubie (you can start your hike from there, or take a connecting shuttle to Madone de Fenestre and Boreon), La Colmiane and Saint Dalmas le Selvage and many more.  The weekend hiking options with this bus are almost unlimited.

Then there are the buses through the Tinee Valley to the ski resorts (2 hours away) that of course double as a hiking-hubs in summer: Bus #91 to Auron  and Bus #92 to Isola 2000Once you get up there, there is a shuttle that runs a loop between all the ski resort villages, for lots more summer hiking options.

Insider tip:  There is also another mountain bus that is not really publicized: the regional Zou #670 Valberg with a different bus stop, different pricing, and different way to get your ticket.  It goes to Valberg, but also passes through several great little hiking villages on the way, like Beuil, known for its marmots and honey.

Where to catch it: This one leaves daily in July/August from the Vauban bus station (tram stop Vauban, then cut through the shopping center and go through archway).  On the way back at the end of the day, the bus makes a stop at the Park Phoenix tram stop, which might be more convenient.

Cost:  this bus only costs 2.50€ for a one way ticket, which you buy from the driver as you board.  Or better yet, buy your 2.50€ Ticket Azur ahead of time from the machine at any tram stop, and the bonus is that this ticket also gives you one free tram ride in Nice on your way to the catch the bus at the Vauban bus station.  (By the way, this transfer ticket only works outbound; on the way back the only way is to buy the ticket from the driver as you board.)

The Nice tourist office has great hiking guides RandoOxegene (only in French but with good maps and all downloadable online), but for English check out RivieraRambling, a terrific site dedicated to walking and hiking on the French Riviera.  Both suggest circuits and detail the well-marked trails from all the little mountain towns, so you can plan a hike that matches your abilities and go at your own speed.

The Cote d’Azur’s surrounding mountains and valleys are so picturesque, every time I go up I wonder why I don’t do it more often… and now it’s so easy there’s no excuse!

Photo credit: Trailhead by Best of Nice

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