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The Nice bus system is fairly extensive as it connects all parts of town as well as the outskirts. (See a bus map) Buses are modern, air-conditioned and fairly comfortable as far as buses go. Yes, they can be quite crowded but the special bus lanes on major streets means they can get you to your destination much faster than a car especially during rush hours.
Convenient as it is, the buses don't hold a candle to the tramway for journeys between the Old Town and north Nice and between the Airport and central Nice. The tram is more frequent and runs longer hours. More.
The only bus journey that can be substantially more convenient than the tram is the new free shuttle that connects boulevard Gambetta with the Old Town and central Nice. It runs every 15 minutes between 9am and 5.30pm 7/7. And, it's a non-polluting electric bus. Check out this map:
Bus service starts early (around 5 or 6am) and finishes somewhere between 9pm and 1am depending on the line. Lines 5, 6, 7, 8 are coordinated with tram lines and run until nearly 1am. The rest end earlier. Frequency varies according to the route but is generally every 10 to 20 minutes. Buses are more frequent on weekdays and substantially less frequent on Sundays.
Airport buses 98 and 99 have ceased operations. Instead, there's the Tram Ligne 2 which carries passengers from the Airport to Port Lympia.There's also bus no 12 which operates from the stop Airport/Promenade, rolls down the Promenade des Anglais and ends at Promenade des Arts. It runs from 5:30am to 9:40pm.
Whether by bus or tram, the price is €1.50 which is markedly cheaper than the former airport buses.
1. You must flag down the bus as it approaches
2. You should board at the front and exit at the rear door
3. You must insert your ticket into the validating machine to be stamped even if your ride is a transfer. There are occasional checks and you will be levied an on-the-spot fine for not having a ticket or not having a validated ticket.
4. You may ask the bus driver to let you know when you arrive at your desired stop but only if the bus is not crowded with passengers. Otherwise, consult the list of stops in the bus or keep an eye on the sign at each bus stop.
5. Before you reach the stop, you (or someone else) must press the red button fixed to poles so that an Arret Demandé flashes in red overhead the driver.
All tickets are valid on buses or trams.
The price of a single ticket is €1.50 and you can buy it on board directly from the driver. The ticket is good for all transfers that take place within 74 minutes but is not good for a return trip.
Do as locals do and buy a 10-ride multi-voyage card for €10. There is no expiration date and it can be used for group travel. Just punch in the validator once for each person. As in the single-ticket, the card is good for transfers in the same direction for 74 minutes. The card must be validated for each transfer.
There's also a daily pass for €5 which is economical if you'll be doing a lot of sightseeing. You can buy this pass from the bus driver or at the machine at any tram stop. To use the daily pass, stamp it in the validatating machine onboard your first trip. After that, you're good to go.
The seven-day pass for €15 is another option if you need to take a number of buses throughout your stay. This pass may not be purchased on board.
Only single tickets for €1.50 and day passes may be purchased in cash on board from the driver. Drivers can give change. Otherwise, there are four ways to buy tickets and passes.
1) There is a vending machine at each tram stop in which you can buy single tickets, multi-voyage cards, day passes and seven-day passes. The machines do not accept banknotes, only coins or credit cards.
2) Sign up for an account at lignesdazur.com and you can purchase your tickets and passes online and have them delivered to your French address.
3) Pay in person at a Lignes d'Azur agency or an authorized distributor. In Nice the Lignes d'Azur agencies are at 1 rue d'Italie or 4 bd Jean Jaures. A full list of the agencies and distributors throughout the region is here.
4) Pay by smartphone. It's easy and practical. Download and install the app Nice Ticket for Android or Apple. Just plug in your credit card number and you can buy a solo ticket, multi-voyage card, day or weekly pass. To validate the ticket or pass on the bus, make sure NFC is turned on and the screen is on. Place the NFC antenna (usually on the back of the phone) against the validating machine as follows:
If a ticket inspector asks to see your ticket, simply open the app. This method is convenient because you don't need to keep track of your card. The downside is that for a multi-voyage pass, it can only be used by one person, unlike the physical card.
The Nice bus and tram system is handled by Lignes d'Azur. It is not the most user-friendly system, primarily because timetables and frequencies vary so much from one bus line to the other. On the other hand, the buses are extremely reliable usually arriving within a minute or two of the scheduled time. Here are some planning tools to get you around the bus system:
Your first stop should be the Lignes d'Azur website. Just plug in the addresses of your departure and arrival points and you'll get a precise timetable. Also important are the up-to-the-minute notifcation of service disruptions. Disruptions and detours are frequent because of strikes, construction work, demonstrations and the many events that take place in central Nice.
Lignes d'Azur has a telephone service in which you can find out exactly which bus or buses to take where and at exactly what time the bus arrives at your stop. No kidding. Just call 08 1006 1006 (€.06 per minute). Operators can communicate in English.
Lignes d'Azur has apps for iPhone and Android. The geo-location feature is most helpful if you don't know your nearest stop. Be aware that the app tells you when the bus is supposed to arrive. It is not unusual for a bus to arrive ahead of schedule.
A new app, Zenbus, is in development and will tell you exactly where your bus is and when it will arrive.
At the bus stop you can get the schedule for arriving buses via SMS. Send the number of the bus stop to 31000. The number is at every bus stop (see photo left).
There is also a scannable bar code at each bus stop, compatible with Flashcode, that gives bus schedules. It's worthwhile to download the Flashcode app for iPhone or Android.
If you haven't visited Nice in a while or if you're relying on an old guidebook, note that the system was completely overhauled in 2019. The new network revolves around Nice tramways, particularly Ligne 2, the east-west route. There are far fewer buses so as not to duplicate the tram route but the remaining buses will be more frequent. The lines 5, 6, 7, 8 run from 5am until until 1am. The Noctambus no longer exists.
Here are the some of the changes line by line:
Old line 15 becomes new line 5, serving Deloye, Rimiez-Saint-George
Old lines 3 and 22 become new line 6, serving la Madeleine, l'Archet, Croix-de-Berra
Old line 16 becomes new line 7, serving port Lympia, l'Ariane
Old line 4 becomes new line 8 serving las Planas, hopital Pasteur (via Saint-Sylvestre, Gambetta and right bank of the Paillon)
Old line 94 becomes new line 9 serving Vence, Cagnes, parc Phoenix
Old lines 23 and 27 become new line 11, serving square Daudet, Vallon-des-Fleurs, Bella-Vista
Old line 23 becomes new line 12 serving the Airport, Promenade des Arts, Saint-Laurent-du-Var
Old line 6 becomes new line 14 serving Vauban, La Trinité
Old line 81 becomes new line 15 serving Promenade des Arts, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Old lines 19/24 become new line 16 serving col de Bast, Cimiez
Old lines 11/12 become new line 17, serving Ferber, les Arboras
Old line 20 becomes new line 18 serving Riquier, Saint-Sylvestre
Old lines 89 and 90 become new line 19 serving Vauban, Saint-André-de-la-Roche
Old line 52 becomes new line 20 serving Saint-Laurent-du-Var, parc Phoenix
Old line 56 becomes new line 21 serving Cagnes, Grand-Arenas
Last updated September 15, 2021
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