Buying your ticket

If you are buying a full price train ticket, the easiest is to buy it online in English with TrainLine.  You can also buy day/week/family passes online, but those links are in French so not as easy (see my train pass page for the links).

You can buy your tickets and passes from a human (that speaks English) at the ticket office at the Nice train station, but be prepared for a line, especially in summer.

You can also buy tickets from the ticket machines at the train station, which have instructions in English, and take coins and credit cards.  Put your backpack/purse to your front while using the ticket machine, as this is the most common moment to get pickpocketed at the train station:  an obvious foreigner fully focused on the machine, and not paying attention to the person behind them.

Ticket machines step-by-step

Ticket machine at the train stationThe ticket machines are in English (just click the British flag), but unfortuantely many of the pages haven’t gotten around to being translated yet… There is a big yellow sticker right next to the screen that sort of walks you through the process in English; but better yet, check out this quick YouTube video which shows you through the basics.

To buy a regular fare train ticket from the machine:

  • You push the big green button to start, then do all the rest by turning the dial and pushing the green button for ‘ok’
  • Choose what kind of ticket, choose plein tarif for a regular price ticket (if you are buying a day/week/family pass, see below)
  • Choose where you’re leaving from, click ‘ok’, and then where you’re going to
  • How many of you are travelling
  • Which class (take 2nd class, there is not a big difference)
  • One-way (aller simple) or round trip (aller-retour)
  • Which day you are travelling (today)
  • and then click ok to validate the whole thing, and insert your credit card or start popping in those coins!

And finally, you need to validate your ticket in the little yellow machines before going out to your train. Keep inserting in different ways until you hear it print.

To buy a Day Pass from the machine:

  • You push the big green button to start, then do all the rest by turning the dial and pushing the green button for ‘ok’
  • On the left side of the screen you’ll see Zou Pass Hebdo (Zou week pass), or Zou Pass Jeune (Youth Pass)
  • On the right side of the screen, find ‘Products Evenementiel’, click this for the Pass Touristique (Summer Day Pass), Pass Isabelle Family, Family Train/Marineland pass, or the Family Train/Oceanographic Museum pass.  To figure out which one is best for you, click on my train passes page.
  • Choose how many are traveling, and what day it’s for,
  • …then start popping in those coins… on insert your credit card as above.

Here are the 2021 rates for some sample one-way train fares from Nice:

  • Antibes  3€
  • Cannes  5€
  • Villefranche-sur-mer  1.90€
  • Monaco  3€
  • Ventimiglia, Italy 7.50€

Train Schedules   

Your train ticket is good only for the local TER trains. Not good for the TGV, which costs a lot more and requires a reserved seat (and you buy online or from SNCF ticket office).  The vast majority of trains are the local TERs, however, so this shouldn’t pose a problem.

The coastal trains go roughly every half hour in both directions until around 10pm (11pm to near midnight on weekends), but check the schedule here (in English) to be sure, especially for the smaller stations.

The MaGare SNCF smartphone app is infinitely easier than the SNCF website: choose your train station and then with one click (‘see train schedules’) this app replicates the big board currently at the train station of your choice.   Great for when you want to know the timing of the next trains, during the frequent strikes, or if you’re late and want to know if you have to run.

Click here for a page with details on the Coastal Train Line as well as tips on some of the stops, plus a page on the Mountain Trains and Taking the Train to Italy.

Once on the train…

The local trains don’t have wifi, but they do have electrical plugs next to the window seats, so you can at least charge and use your devices.

Taking the TGV from Paris

It’s a great way to go between Nice to Paris: a ticket costs between 19-70€, you relax for 5 hours and watch the scenery, and if you plan it right, you can stop for a day or two in Avignon and experience Provence on your way to the French Riviera.

You zip along at high speed for the first 2 1/2 hours from Paris to Marseille, but then the TGV slows down for the last 2 1/2 hours due to the more antiquated tracks, but the gorgeous scenery makes up for it, especially once you hit the coast…

And new for 2021, they’ve just restarted the Nice-Paris night train!  It leaves Nice at 7:15pm, arriving at Austerlitz station in Paris at 8am.  The return is 9pm to 9am, and both ways run 7 nights a week.  A reclining seat is 19€, a 2nd class bunk (6 bunks to a cabin) is 29€, and a 1st class bunk (only 4 bunks to a cabin) is 39€.  You can book this on the SNCF site, but if the prices that you see are not these deals, wait until you get to Europe to do your online booking.

A few things to know: you’re limited to 1 suitcase, and the food is pricey and mediocre so you might want to stop at a local bakery or local food shop on the way and get a salad, sandwich and a few drinks.  The TGVs have free wifi and plugs at every seat.

Arriving in Nice

There are three Nice train stations on the coastal line: the main one is Nice-Ville which is also known in town as Gare Thiers, but there is also Nice St Augustin near the airport, and Nice Riquier near the Port.

The Nice train station has free wifi and now has luggage storage, and the tourist office is right outside.

Getting in to town

To catch the tramway into town (1.50€ or 1€ with a 10-trip card), just take a left out of the station and walk 1 short block, and you can transfer to line 2 at the next tram stop, Jean Médecin. To take a taxi, just look for the taxi sign (a short hop will cost 10-15€ and beware of being overcharged), better to take an Uber for half the price and no nonsense.

See Related Pages:

Back up to main Go/Transport page

Photo credits:  Nice Train Station courtesy The Blue Walk – European Walking Vacations; Seaside Train Tracks by Captain Scarlet, Trains au Depart by Vmenkov and  TGV by Alieseret, all by licensed under Creative Commons.   Ticket Machine and Reader Board by Best of Nice.

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