Best ticket deal
A one-trip tram fare is 1.50€ (with unlimited stops for 74 minutes), but your best deal is to buy a 10-trip ticket for 10€ and your per-trip cost is now is only 1€ a trip, including Nice buses, and the card can be used for multiple people and has no expiration date. There is also a day pass for 5€ and a week pass for 15€.
Buying a tramway ticket
Buy the tickets or 10-trip pass from the ticket machine at all the tram stops, which has an English option and takes coins and cards (but no bills). You push the big green button to start, then do all the rest by turning the dial and pushing the green button for ‘ok’.
Now cigarette shops (tabacs) also sell the 10-trip pass, and you can also by tickets and passes from the Mobilitie boutiques across the street from the train station (tram stop Gare Thiers), or at 33 Debouchage (tram stop Jean Médecin), where they do take bills.
Validating your ticket
Once you board the tram, punch your ticket in the little machine, just like on the bus. If you are two people and using a 10-trip card, punch it twice (but then just once for each transfer within your 74 minutes). This is very important as otherwise you can get a big fine if the ticket inspectors come on.
Once you punch it, your ticket is good for the next 74 minutes for as many tram or bus rides as you can fit in, but the catch is: in one direction only. Punch it again at each transfer, but if you are within your 74 minutes, it will just give you a green ‘good to go’ beep. Note, the 74 minutes is for transfers one direction only and not good for backtracking.
The tramway line 1 makes a big ‘U’ through downtown, and comes every 3-5 minutes by day and every 12-20 minutes by night until around 1am. First tram starts at 4:25am, and last one finishes at 1:35am. See the line 1 schedule here.
Line 2, which goes West to East from the airport to the Port, comes every 10 minutes or so (every 15 minutes early or late) and starts at 5:30am going to just after midnight which is great for catching early or late flights. See the line 2 schedule here.
Each stop is clearly announced, both verbally and on the screen, and the line 2 tramway even has free wifi!
A few things to know…
There are two stops (Garibaldi and Jean Médecin) where you can transfer from one tram line to the other, but unlike most urban metro systems, the two lines in Nice are not joined by a common tunnel. In both cases the Line 1 stop is above ground, and you walk a minute or so to enter the Line 2 stop which is underground.
There is also a Line 3 tramway that branches off from the Line 2 right before the airport, so if you are going to catch a flight make sure you take the one for the Aeroport and not CADAM. The trams for the two destinations alternate, so give yourself an extra 15 minutes in case you just miss the airport one and have to let a CADAM one pass before the next one to the airport.
All tram stops have free wifi, just choose the Spot Wifi network, click OK and you’re in.
Which lines, which stops?
Here are some of the main stops on Line 1, and what you will find nearby…
- Liberation – Daily outdoor market (Tues-Sun) with Nice’s best prices on produce, the biggest and best fish market, Gare de Sud train station to the mountains, and the massive Gare de Sud food court and cinemas.
- Gare Thiers – Train station
- Jean Médecin – Nice Etoile Shopping Center, Cinemas, Notre Dame Church, Arab market area, and this is where you can change to the Line 2 tramway.
- Massena – Rue Massena (walking street), Galeries Lafayette department store, Sephora, Zara, designer shopping on Avenue de Verdun, Apollo fountain, Promenade du Paillon water jets, Promenade des Anglais and seafront.
- Opera – Old Town, Nice Opera, Cours Saleya flower and produce market (Tues-Sun) and Brocante Antique market (Monday), Palais du Justice, seaside and beaches.
- Cathédrale – Historic Old Town, Cathedrale Saint-Reparate, Palais Lascaris museum, access to the Chateau, seaside and beaches.
- Garibaldi – Place Garibaldi, Garibaldi Crypt, MAMAC art museum, Natural History Museum, access to the Chateau, Bonaparte neighborhood ‘Petit Marais’, Antique quarter, bus to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, a short walk to the Port to catch bus 100 to Monaco, Villefranche-sur-mer, or bus to Eze, and you can change to the tramway Line 2 on the other side of the square.
- Acropolis – Convention center, Cinematheque movie theatre, Bowling
- Palais des Expositions – Convention center, Park and Ride lot, Carrefour shopping center, and a 10 minute walk to the Riquier train station.
- Vaubaun – Ticket office and bus to Aix-en-Provence, and the start for both buses to Eze.
The main stops on line 2 include:
- The Port – Probably one of the most stunning settings for a tram stop in the world. From here you can stroll through the Port from the super yachts to the tiny fishing boats. Sunday free afternoon concerts in the church all winter. Catch the bus 100 to Monaco, Villefranche-sur-mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat just right of the church, or the bus to Eze 3 blocks behind the church. Bonaparte neighborhood ‘Petit Marais’, the Antique quarter, the Terra Amata cave man museum…
- Garibaldi – Place Garibaldi, Garibaldi Crypt, MAMAC art museum, Natural History Museum, bus to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, access to the Chateau, Bonaparte neighborhood ‘Petit Marais’, Antique quarter, and you can change to the tramway Line 1 on the other side of the square.
- Jean Médecin – Nice Etoile Shopping Center, Cinemas, Notre Dame Church, Arab market area, or you can change to the Line 2 tramway or walk to the train station.
- Centre Universitaire Méditerranée – Beaches, Museum Beaux Arts
- Parc Phoenix – Parc Phoenix botanical gardens and wildlife park; also where you catch the buses to Vence, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and also Antibes/Cannes.
- Nice Airport – to get here, be sure to take the tramway that says Direction: Airport, not the one that says Direction: CADAM which splits off inland just before the airport.
Free Park and Ride lots with tramway ticket
There are seven large ParcAzur lots located at various points along the tramway route (see map below), where you can leave your car for free from early morning until late at night as long as you pay for a 3€ round-trip on the tramway. Click here for details (in English!) on how to use them.
The first Tramway in Nice was built in 1900, but went out of fashion just 20-odd years later in favor of the latest technology: the bus. The last old-style tramway was shut down in 1953. Ironically, it was the perpetual gridlock from too many buses and cars that made the the new Nice Tramway a necessity.
- Back up to main Go/Transport page
Photo credits: Tramway at Place Massena and Tramway by Night by Best of Nice Blog, Old Tramway licensed under Creative Commons