Transport Strike Strategies 2024

Strike protest signTypically, 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 to/from the Nice Airport during a strike

During strike season, give yourself lots of extra time to get to the airport, as demonstrations and marches can snarl traffic for Ubers and  buses, and often the striking taxis block the entrance to the airport (called an ‘escargot‘).  If the tram line 2 is running, that is the surest way to get to the airport during a strike. But if the Airport Tramway 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.
  • To get from Nice back to the airport, use an Uber, taxi or private transfer.
  • Order a private transfer ahead of time with a fixed price (45€) and breathe easy.  I recommend  Friend in France.
  • …Or you can always walk out to the Promenade and try to catch a city bus (if they are not on strike as well!) for 1.70€ plus the 2€ rechargeable card 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 C).
  • If you only have an under-seat carry-on, consider plopping it in the basket and riding one of the new self-service electric share-bikes to/from the airport!  They are quick and easy to sign up for (in English), very simple to use, not expensive, and they’re fully electric so the bike basically peddles for you, like riding a magic bike, and there is a sidewalk seaside bike lane all they way into town.
  • 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 from central Nice it is even closer.
  • If you are heading to Monaco or Cannes and are traveling alone, take a helicopter!  It will cost about 200€, but will be a thrilling 7-minute ride you will never forget… versus languishing in strike-blocked traffic while the taxi meter runs!

Around Town During a Bus/Tramway 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:

  • Why not rent an electric share bike?  The new bikes are really easy to use.
  • Jump in one of those Pedicab bike taxis for short hops
  • Try a Moto Taxi!  Just Google Moto Taxi Nice to find lots of motorcycle cab services.
  • Or if you have a lot of museums to see, break down and get the French Riviera Pass which includes the Hop-on Hop-off bus (which never goes on strike) plus all museum admissions.

Replacing that Train Trip

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 as running on the app, it will run.
  • 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.  Even better: first-time Uber users can click here and save 10€ on each of your first 5 rides
  • Or, if you are going far (Marseilles, Paris, Spain, Italy…), check out the very competitively priced long-haul private buses like FlixBus, OuiBus, BlablaBus or EuroLines going to your destination.

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