Taking the Train in Nice, Tickets and Passes 2024

Inside the Nice train stationHow to buy your train tickets, plus the best local train passes and discount deals, and what you need to know about taking the trains in Nice…

Buying a Ticket or Train Pass

If you are buying a full-price train ticket, the easiest is to just buy it online in English with TrainLine.

Here are the 2023 full-fare one-way train rates from Nice on the local TER trains, plus how long each train ride takes.

  • Villefranche-sur-mer  2.10€, 5 minutes
  • Monaco  4.40€, 20 minutes
  • Ventimiglia, Italy 8.70€, 50 minutes
  • Antibes  5.20€, 25 minutes
  • Cannes  7.90€, 40 minutes
  • Grasse   11.40€, 1 hour
  • Saint Raphael  13.90€, 50 minutes

Trainline App logoIf you buy on TrainLine, you can also easily buy tickets for the quicker but more expensive TGVs and OuiGo trains.

If you don’t buy your train ticket online, you have to buy it at the train station: You can do it with an English-speaking human at the ticket office at the far end of the Nice train station (be prepared for a wait, especially in summer), or from the blue ticket machines at the train station, or the white ones for TGV and OuiGo tickets.  The machines take credit cards, contactless payments, and coins, but no bills.

Very important: 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 use the big knob to click the British flag), but unfortunately many of the pages haven’t gotten around to being fully translated yet… but there is a big yellow sticker right next to the screen that sort of walks you through the process in English.

  • You push the big green button to start, then do all the rest by turning the dial and pushing the green button for ‘ok’
  • First step: click the British flag to get (mostly) English!
  • Now…

To buy a Regular Fare Train Ticket from the Machine

  • Choose billets (tickets) for a regular price ticket (if you are buying a day/week/family pass, see below), then push the ‘ok’ button
  • On the next screen choose Tarif Normal Adult – Enfant (normal adult fare/child fare) or if you are 3 or more adults travelling together, choose Voyages en Minigroupe
  • Choose where you’re leaving from on the left side of the screen (Nice) and push ‘ok’, and then where you’re going to on the right side of the screen.
  • Choose how many adults and children are travelling.
  • One-way (aller simple) or round trip (aller-retour)
  • Which day you are travelling (today)
  • Which class (take 2nd class, there is not a big difference)
  • and then click ok to validate the whole thing, and insert your credit card or start popping in those coins!
  • Very important: 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.

But really, for single tickets just buy them online in English with TrainLine… it’s so much simpler!

To buy a Day Pass from the Ticket Machine – 16€

The more of you travelling together, the better this deal is: each additional person is only 10€.  This day pass is available from May through September, and covers from Italy to Saint-Raphael, but only on TER trains, so no hoppin’ on the TGV (drat!) or OuiGo.

  • Choose Produits Touristiques – Bon Plans (Tourist passes, deals) then push the ‘ok’ button.
  • On the next screen, choose Pass Touristique on the left side of the screen, which is the 16€ unlimited regional day pass.
  • Now choose how many people; you can add up to 8 people for just 10€ each.
  • Choose what day it’s for.
  • …then just touch or insert your credit card as above.
  • With pass-in-hand, you just hop on and hop off the TER trains, free as a bird, with no tickets, no lines, and no punching…

To buy online instead (in French, but it’s easy) click here and buy one Titulaire for 16€, then buy as many Accompagnants as you have people joining you for 10€ each.

To buy a Family Day Pass from the Ticket Machine – 35€

This gives you a day of unlimited travel for two adults and two children under 16, for 35€.  This day pass is available all year long, and covers from Italy to Saint-Raphael, and inland to Grasse, and even the mountain train as far inland as Tende, but only on TER trains: no jumping on the TGVs or OuiGo trains.

  • Choose Produits Touristiques – Bon Plans (Tourist passes, deals) then push the ‘ok’ button.
  • On the next screen, choose Pass Isabelle Famille on the right side of the screen under Bon Plans.
  • Choose what day it’s for.
  • …then start popping in those coins… on insert your credit card as above
  • With pass-in-hand, you just hop on and hop off the TER trains, free as a bird, with no tickets, no lines, and no punching…

To buy the Pass Isabelle Famille online (in French, but it’s easy) click here.

To buy a Week Pass for Train/Tram/Bus+Monaco – 50€

You can’t get this card on the blue train ticket machines, but can only get it  from the grey tram ticket machines at any tram stop (in English), and there is also one of these grey Zou tram ticket machines at each end of the train station.

The Pass SudAzur is an all-access pass for 3-days (35€), one week (50€), or two weeks (80€), giving you unlimited trains (Italy to Theole-sur-mer, plus inland trains) plus all trams and buses in the whole region, plus the local buses in Monaco!  It’s available from July through the first weekend in November.

At the grey Ligne d’Azur ticket machine, first choose the English flag, then ‘Buying a Ticket’, and then when it says ‘Select the ticket or pass’ you need to hit ‘next’ for 4 pages or so until you see Pass South Azur.  Then you choose the one with your desired time frame, or for a child (-18), then choose the start day on the calendar, and there will be an extra 2€ for the rechargeable La Carte, for which each passholder needs their own.

You can also get it at the Espace Zou office at the train station (always a line), or the Zou office directly across the street from the train station (less chance of lines).

…And One More Deal

Show your same day train ticket/day pass at the Monaco Oceanographic Museum and get 2€ off on your admission, normally 19€.

 

France-wide Discount Rail Passes

SNCF offers senior, student, and family discount cards, for 50€ a year, that basically give you 30% off your train travel all over France.

There are deals for unlimited train travel in France that are only available for non-European residents, and must be purchased before you arrive.  I generally don’t suggest these, because to make them worth the money you often need to be constantly on the move, and end up only really seeing the scenery whiz by from the inside of a train.

  • Insider tips:  Buy your European train tickets with TrainLine, where you will get the same price even if you buy them online outside of Europe (sites can see that you are using an American ISP for instance, and boom, you are redirected to the super expensive site for tourists.)  Wherever you buy your tickets (SNCF in France, for instance) just check the price on Trainline before you commit, to make sure you are not getting charged a higher out-0f-Europe fare.
  • If you have a lot of luggage choose the downstairs seating, and choosing a seat on the left hand side of the train for Paris-Nice (both ways) which will give you the best seaside view.  The train changes direction after the Marseilles stop, so if you are facing backward, you will be facing forward for the second half of the train ride.

Train Schedules

Click here for a page with details on the best stops on the Coastal Train Line, plus a page on the Mountain Trains.

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 train listing board at a train station

In French, ‘retard’ means Late

Train station schedules in real-time app logoTo see the real-time departures of the next trains, the MaGare SNCF smartphone app is infinitely easier than the official 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 or not.

The local TER 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.  All the train stations have free wifi so you can charge up some good reading material before you get on.

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 Saint-Augustin near the airport, and Nice Riquier inland from the Port.

The Nice train station has free wifi and the tourist office is right outside.

To catch the tramway into town, just take a left out of the station and walk 1 short block to catch the line 1 tram, and you can transfer to line 2 at the next tram stop, Jean Médecin.  A tram trip costs 2€ for the rechargeable (but refundable card) and then 1.70€ a trip but with 74 minutes of free transfers.  Check out the tramway or buses page for some tips on bus/tram tickets and how best to use them.

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 exterior courtesy The Blue Walk – European Walking Vacations.   Inside the Nice Train Station, Ticket Machine, and Reader Board by Best of Nice.

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