Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nice Train Station - Gare de Nice Ville

Nice’s train station was completed in 1867 and although not as grand as I’m sure it’s early days, it still holds it’s character and is quite the center of activity for the city. There has been talk for a while that renovation work will be taking place over the next couple of years.

If you are arriving by train to Nice for the first time, I will give you a quick run down about the station.

Basically, when you step off of the train on to any of the few platforms around, walk towards the lower stairwells which all lead to the same tunnel.  Proceed through the tunnel to the end where you will see another set of stairs leading up and into the main lobby of the station.

Once you are away from the platforms and tunnel you will now be in the main part of the station lobby where you can exit the building.

That being said, if you are entering the train station to leave Nice, the lobby area of the station is where you can buy things like snacks, magazines and purchase your train tickets from one of the ticketing machines.  In a later post I will provide more details on how to use the train ticket machines, but rest assured, they are very self-explanatory.

In the lobby, before you head for the train platforms, there is an automated train schedule board above the glass doors looking towards the platforms.  Here you will find out which train is heading where, which platform it will be located at, and for what time. Schedules, and which platform you should be at can change so do your double-checking here.

Once you have confirmed your destination information, validate your ticket in the little automated yellow boxes before heading to the platform.  It’s very important you do this because if you get caught on the train without your ticket being validated, you will get a fine.

Go down the stairs towards the tunnel, inside the tunnel itself will also be monitors telling you which set of stairs leads to your platform.  On the platform itself are even more monitors.

It’s all actually very easy so don’t worry, just expect at high season for there to be more crowds of people.

If you have arrived by train to the station, have made your way to the lobby and are now about to leave the train station.  Here you will be able to choose your choice of transportation to where you would like to go.

Taxis are readily available out front of the train station, as are city buses. 

Alternately, since the train station is located on avenue Thiers, walk left along the station and follow avenue Thiers to the very popular avenue Jean Médecin which is a very short, maybe 3 minute walk away, here you can catch the city tram.

The tram only costs 1 euro (purchase ticket at street station, validate on board tram) and with only one tramline, it’s easy to use.  Again, it depends on where you are going.  Here is my link providing more information about Nice’s tram system: Nice Tramway

Otherwise, I have found the area around the train station to be safe.
  I recall in the early 1990’s the area could feel a bit sketchy at times, usually at night, but I have personally come and gone from the train station at all hours without incident. 

Like with any city, take the usual precautions.

I’m also the kind of person that likes to walk everywhere, so if you were trying to gauge time, for myself, a walk from the train station down avenue Jean Médecin to the beach takes me about 20 minutes.

Enjoy the experience.

Update: February 20, 2012
Plans have been revealed about the massive upgrades and renovations to take place at the train station and area.  The look of the project is a mixture of traditional and modern design.

There will be a complete overhaul to the station itself, the platforms, interiors, and underpasses all with the aim to improve upon passenger comfort, security and safety.

A large square will replace the current car park to encourage pedestrians to walk or take the tram located 250 metres away from the station.  I like that idea!

As a popular tourist destination, the hub accommodates an impressive seven million passengers each year to various destinations across the country and Europe. It’s also the heart of the Riviera’s rail network, providing accessible routes to Italy, Monaco and Russia.

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