Nice and the SNCF

Nice Travel Blog

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Fountain at Massena Place
I decided, since I was in Monaco, that I would not need a friend’s advice and go spend an afternoon in Nice, France, rather than just go to the beach in Monaco itself or go to Cannes (too far and too long on the regional train just for part of the day).  So, off to Nice to walk around and lay on the beach for a Saturday afternoon.

However, Nice is not really all that nice.  What a deceptive name!  Perhaps the construction – what looks like streetcar lines being relaid) for several blocks along one of the main roads from the train station towards the beach makes it seem even worse.  Though once I got to the big plaza area that apparently was just renovated, the town looked a bit nicer.
  Or perhaps it was just finally arriving in the old part of the town where there were a lot of cute shops and places to grab a bit to eat or a drink.

I walked around for a little bit and then up the steps into a park that is on a cliff overlooking the beach.  It was a steep walk (what’s up with that in this part of the world?) But the view overlooking the city and the sea was great.  Plus, if you walk far enough, you come to a man-made waterfall.  It’s no Niagara Falls, but still, it is a nice little prize for walking that far.  Walking down a different path from the entrance by the pedestrian streets takes you right to the beach.  Literally.  And so, off to spend a couple of hours laying out on the smooth pebble/rock beach.  The water was beautiful and blue, but I guess when it starts to become low tide, it becomes a bit more tricky to actually make it into the water.
View from cliff overlooking Nice and the sea
  The “beach” of rocks drops off rather suddenly, and attempting to navigate smooth, loose rocks with bare feet is, well, tricky.  Walking back up the steep drop from being in the water is also tough, too.

When I went to leave Nice and walked back to the train station, no one was allowed in the station and the doors were chained shut.  I’m not really sure what was going on, but I think that someone left some luggage unattended.  How frustrating.  Plus, when they finally allowed everyone back into the station, everyone was pushing and shoving.  If only I had taken this as a warning....

Sunday morning I checked out of my hotel in Monaco and went to the train station with plenty of time.  However, no track (of the three at the Monaco train station) was listed next to my train, which was going to Marsailles.  I went to the ticket counter, and they told me that the train was cancelled because of the rail strike in Italy (where the train originated).  I said I needed to get to Marsailles to catch my TGV to Lyon, for which I had a reservation, so that I could make it to Colmar that night.  The guy was so unhelpful – and again, telling me that the train from Nice to Lyon was full.  Finally he told me just to go to Nice and try to figure it out.  Of course, I had to wait an hour before the next train to Nice (since it was a Sunday) and then when I arrived in Nice, the line for the ticket counter was huge.  And it didn’t help that they only had 3 people working the counter.  Eventually when I got to a counter they told me that the train was full.  However, if I wanted to get on the train from Nice to Lyon so I could catch the very last train to Colmar (arriving at 11 at night!) that I would have to pay full price for a reservation and not use my Eurorail pass.  Really, those SNCF people.....

After being out 70 euro, I caught my train.  But since it was the same route but in reverse that I had taken to get to Monaco, I went to see if the same guy who had been so nice to me on the way down was working that day, too.  Alas, he wasn’t, but these guys were just as nice.  They questioned why I had paid for a ticket since I had a eurorail pass and wrote some stuff in French on my ticket.  In Colmar I told the whole story again and showed all of my tickets and whatnot....  and I got my 70 euros back.  Yeah!  Of course, it was a very long day attempting to get from Monaco to Colmar.  And the SCNF people in the south of France are just no good – but the guys that work the Geneva-Nice TGV are wonderful!
hdichter says:
well, the guy I had at Monaco was rather young, so perhaps you had his father. Regardless, they clearly have different training for the SNCF people in the south than elsewhere!
Posted on: Jul 27, 2007
windypeg says:
Hey Heather! I think I met the same person working the Monaco train station in 1993!!! I wanted a train from Monaco that would get me to Munich...figuring they would send me to Milan and switch to another train, pretty straight forward stuff! But alas no!! Can't do that..had to take a sleeper train to Marseilles and on to Strasbourg, then connect thru Stuttgart to Munich!! Wasted a night and a day.....then while in Munich I bumped into some tourists I had met in Nice, whined about my travel adventure and was THRILLED to find out they had just arrived from Monaco...via Milan! Note to all, avoid whoever that guy is in Monaco! Sorry you got him too.....thought he would have retired by now! lol

Keep up the great stories, love reading about your adventures!

Posted on: Jul 26, 2007
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Fountain at Massena Place
Fountain at Massena Place
View from cliff overlooking Nice a…
View from cliff overlooking Nice …
photo by: Niki-Travelfan