Transport options between Nice and Eze….

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I have had lots of feedback from readers about transport options between Nice and Eze that I have decided to add this to my ‘to-do’ list.  So, coming soon I will be writing a blog post on transport via bus, train and self-drive.

Stay tuned…

 

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TRANSPORT – Air traffic controller strikes

Another strike to the French transport system is in the pipeline this week with a proposed six-day air traffic controller strike starting today that will affect many French airports.

The French public and indeed tourists in the country are losing patience with continuing changes to their work day and holiday itineraries, and now the news of a strike affecting flights is a blow again after a separate strike from SNCF rail that has recently slammed the country with rail disruptions and reduced schedules.

The air traffic controller strike will not be as vast as initially thought as one of the two unions involved has since pulled out.

Around 80% of UK flights to and from France will continue to operate, though passengers should be advised to expect delays to any flights using French airspace.

Main French airports affected are Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse as well as Paris airports.

Nice Airport strike updates can be found on their website http://en.nice.aeroport.fr/ or another great website to bookmark for global strikes (including France) is www.easytravelreport.com .

As always, it is advisable for passengers to check directly with their airline regarding cancellations and changes.

 

ANTIBES – Nuits Carrées (Fri 27 June & Sat 28 June)

If I could recommend one local music festival on the Côte d’Azur after the grand events for Jazz à Juan, Fête de la Musique and Nice Jazz Festival, it would be Nuits Carrées.

Image logo copyright Nuits Carrées

Image logo copyright Nuits Carrées

Since it’s inception, Nuits Carrées is firmly one of my favourite weekends of music for various reasons including:

  • Entry price – no huge entry fee, it costs just 10€ for one evening, or 16€ for both nights.  A low price doesn’t mean a dip in music quality either – the range and duration of artists is top level.
  • Location – amazing setting in the amphithêatre at Fort Carré in Antibes
  • Eco-responsible – they make efforts for a sustainable and eco-friendly approach
  • Accessible to all – people of all levels of mobility can come here; the venue entrance, refreshments area and toilets are wheelchair-friendly. The amphithêatre itself has graduated steps but you can still find a place to view the acts.
  • Music – a fantastic cross-section of musical tastes including electro, hip-hop, funk, jazz.  It’s an aural rollercoaster and I love it.
festival crowd, Nuits Carrées

festival crowd, Nuits Carrées

Nuits Carrées is an eco-festival of sorts; you purchase a reusable ‘eco cup’ when you arrive and refill it through the evening to recycle at the end.  No discarded styrofoam cups or aluminium cans littering the ground here.

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You will appreciate that the toilets are eco-friendly; instead of those horrible smelly Portaloos with chemicals that are regular features at music festivals. The toilets are constructed of chip-board and there are buckets of sawdust – yes, sawdust – to tip into the bowl afterwards.  No odour and much more pleasant.  If you have reduced mobility there is a wheelchair-accessible toilet with ramp.

This year the festival billing includes Dukebox Champions, Saint Michel, DJ Kentaro, Lords of the Underground, Submotion Orchestra, and Sweatshop.

Would you like to be here enjoying music at this festival as the sun sets?

WHAT:  Nuits Carrées

WHEN:  Friday 27 June and Saturday  28 June, doors open from 7pm until late

WHERE:  Amphithêatre at Fort Carré, avenue du 11 novembre, 06600 Antibes

How to get there:

By car:  There are two free public carparks nearby the festival entrance, though limited carpark spaces.

By train:  Antibes train station is less than 10 minutes walking distance to the festival.  Exit the train station, and at the traffic lights just outside the station walk downhill on the road to the left, then follow the footpath to Fort Carrée.

By bus:  From Antibes Old Town, a navette bus (number 13) runs every 10 minutes up to 10.50pm (here is the timetable Ligne13_oct13reed_web  ). It travels a route from the entrance to Antibes port to a stop by the carpark across from the festival entrance.

From Cannes, take bus 200 and there is a temporary stop in Antibes on boulevard Vautrin as the new Passerelle bus interchange at Antibes is not open yet.  From here, you can cross the railway overbridge and walk to the festival from the train station. The bus stop looks like this below, it is opposite a computer repair shop:

Bus 200 Cannes to Nuits Carrées, get off at the temporary stop on boulevard Vautrin in Antibes

Bus 200 Cannes to Nuits Carrées, get off at the temporary stop on boulevard Vautrin in Antibes

From Nice, take bus 200 and there is a temporary stop at Antibes as the Passerelle bus station is not open yet.  The stop is outside Hotel Le Collier, there is a small sign ‘Arret Provisoire’. Get off the bus here and cross the road to Antibes train station, follow the directions above from the train station.

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My tips:  Take a small torch for later in the evening, the toilets have no lighting.  Take cash for the bar and restaurant.

Visit the festival website for details on where to purchase tickets and the line-up for both nights www.nuitscarrees.com

NICE – Tremplin CrAzy Off (Thu 19 Jun and Fri 20 Jun 2014)

In association with Ivoire Music and the city of Nice, there is a free music event in Nice this week – six bands will perform in front of a jury of media and professional musicians.

The winner of this first stage of the CrAzy Off will receive prizes including an audio/video session at a studio, and a performance slot on the Sunday evening of the Crazy Week rock/pop festival in Nice to be held next month between 16-20 July 2014.

The upcoming Crazy Week festival is a big rock pop event for Nice with past music acts including Thirty Seconds to Mars and Mika.  This year’s acts include Simple Minds, Morcheeba and Joe Satriani. Note:  CrAzy Off is a free event; Crazy Week you must purchase tickets.

Photo copyright ulule.fr

Photo copyright ulule.fr

The CrAzy Off programme schedule is:

Thursday  19 June

7pm:  Livin High

8pm: Nothing

9pm: Noon XOXO

Friday 20 June:

7pm:  Inside Out

8pm:  Marie Antoinette

9pm:  Sive

What:   Tremplin Crazy Off

Where:  Place Masséna, Nice

When:  Thursday 19 June and Friday 19 June from 7pm

Cost: FREE

Tremplin CrAzy Off partners include the City of Nice, Alpes-Maritimes Conseil Général, Hard Rock Café Nice and RTL2 radio.

For more details about CrAzy Off, or tickets to Crazy Week, check out the concert organisers website for more details www.ivoiremusic.fr

ST JEAN CAP FERRAT (Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild)

A must-see tourist attraction on the French Riviera, here is my review of this splendid site.

History of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild:

Built in the early 1900’s by Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, this imposing pink-hued Villa occupies a prime site on the peninsula at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Béatrice was the daughter of the banker and art collector, Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, and at 19 she married a wealthy Parisien of Russian origin, Maurice Ephrussi. Her marriage eventually collapsed after 21 years, and when Béatrice inherited a large fortune after her father passed away she decided to build the Villa.

No expense was spared in creating a mansion suited to her tastes. Tapestries, porcelain, furniture, artworks, frescoes are of the highest standard and craftsmanship, including a writing desk in the boudoir built for Marie-Antoinette.

She was an avid travel enthusiast, had a love of horse racing and casinos and her sometimes eccentric personality was notable in her choice of pets including a menagerie of poodles, an Indian mongoose, Peruvian parakeet, monkeys and gazelles.

Today, the Villa is owned by the Académie des Beaux-Arts who work alongside Culturespaces to defend and promote French artistic heritage.

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Layout, accessibility and attractions:

The ticket reception (and attached gift boutique) where you purchase your entry ticket is accessed via 5 steps. Persons with restricted mobility however can access the Villa grounds via a double-entry vehicle gate, directly outside the ticket reception. There is a panoramic view from the entrance driveway of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the Corniche mountains and stretching across to Monaco.

The entrance into the Villa is via 3 low-height steps, see photo below:

image copyright and reproduced This French American Life

image copyright and reproduced This French American Life

The interior of the Villa is set over two levels. Ground level has an interior patio courtyard with pink Verona marble columns, Béatrice’s boudoir with Marie-Antoinette’s writing desk, a bedroom and attached salon with mini chaise seats for pets, a dressing room with displays of Chinese robes and 18th century silks, bathroom with hidden cupboards and travel memorabilia, dining room and porcelain displays, tearoom, two salons with rare furniture and furnishings and is entirely accessible for persons with reduced mobility. This ground level also has accessible toilets located off the central patio courtyard.

patio arches

patio arches

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Salon

Salon

There is a first floor that is accessed via stairs only so it’s not accessible for persons with restricted mobility.  As you walk up the staircase, notice the vintage photographs mounted on the wall that show the construction of the Villa and places Béatrice used to frequent, such as La Jettée Promenade that you can read about here https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/tag/jetee-promenade/

This level contains a film room, Directoire bedroom, a tapestry room, a unique and bizarre room decorated with monkey panels and figurines, another bedroom decorated in blue furnishings,and a Chinese-themed room with lacquered panels and displays of jade and rose quartz. The first floor has a lovely outdoor terrace overlooking the French gardens, great for photos.

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French gardens seen from the first floor terrace

French gardens seen from the first floor terrace

chandelier in the Blue bedroom

chandelier in the Blue bedroom

The grounds and gardens of the Villa are unfortunately not entirely accessible for anyone who has mobility issues. The entry courtyard in front of the villa, and the French gardens with musical fountains are accessible. The ground surfaces for these accessible outdoor areas are not concrete-paved, it is small gravel chip.

The rest of the gardens are interspersed with stairways and steps, particularly the path through the Japanese Garden, Exotic Garden and from the Provençal Garden down to the French Garden. If you are wheelchair-bound, or with a heavy or large-sized child buggy/stroller I must be honest and say your options are limited to visit all of the themed gardens.

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The gardens are lovely, and due to the hill-top location of this attraction there are expansive views from the gardens across to Villefranche-sur-Mer and Beaulieu-sur-Mer. There are 9 themed gardens including:

– Spanish garden with water features, fish pond and pergola with vines

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Spanishseat

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– Florentine garden with water feature, statues, topiaries and lavender plantings

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– Japanese garden with traditional elements such as raked sand garden, wooden bridge, zen sculptures, koi pond and bamboo plantings

– Stone garden with gargoyles, arches, columns and statuettes

– Exotic garden with cacti, succulents and foreign trees

– Rose garden

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– Provençal garden with olive trees, herb and lavender plantings

– French garden with topiaries, urns and the musical fountain that performs every 20 minutes

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– Sèvres garden

Best time to visit the gardens? Between May and July when spring/summer flowers are blooming, and the heady scents of the pines, Mediterranean olive trees, lavender and herbs drift on the breeze. The garden would appeal during all seasons due to the large number of trees, shrubs and water features. I would like to visit again on a rainy day as I believe it would exude a lush tropical ambience.

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What do you think my favourite garden was? I loved the Spanish garden with it’s water feature grotto, striking ‘bird of paradise’ plants bordering a central fish pond, a pergola with a stone bench shaded by the vines, and stunning pink bougainvillea crawling along marble columns. Just stunning, don’t you think?

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Béatrice wanted the Villa built in the Italian Renaissance style, and I think the pink hue highlights the impressive design. I also liked the fact the Villa exterior is not ‘perfect’ – there is peeling paint on the pink exterior which lends to the idea it was a lived-in homestead in a coastal location subjected to temperamental winds and salt air, rather than just a display museum.

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The interior will appeal to fans of Moorish and French Louis XV and XVI-style, with patterned, painted, upholstered, golden, brocaded, and decorated everything. It is definitely a visual overload that may not appeal to everyone. For those visitors who are not aware of the prestige and craftsmanship of the Villa’s exhibits, I recommend the free audioguide to learn the history behind the exhibits and glimpse into Béatrice’s personality and family put the Villa into perspective in a modern world.

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The Villa holds regular events during the year including Rose Festivals, costumed theme days and garden seminars so check their website under ‘Events’ if you have any special interests.   You can even have your wedding reception there – can you imagine how gorgeous the wedding photos in the gardens would be?

Did you know? The Villa was used in interior scenes to portray ‘Palmyra’ (Largo’s base in North Africa) in the 1983 Bond movie ‘Never Say Never Again’. Exterior scenes for Palmyra were filmed at the Citadelle in nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer.  Read more about Villefranche-sur-Mer here https://accessriviera.wordpress.com/tag/things-to-do-in-villefranche-sur-mer/

image copyright from James Bond Locations

image copyright from James Bond Locations

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Opening hours:

The Villa is open every day.

February to October : 10am-6pm (peak season months July and August the opening hours are 10am-7pm)

November to February: Weekends and school holidays 10am-6pm / During the week: 2pm-6pm

Last admission is 30 minutes prior to closing time.

detail in one of the Salons

detail in one of the Salons

Cost (current as at June 2014, subject to change):

Regular admission: 13€

Reduced admission: 10€ (children 7-17 years, students, holders of Education Pass, jobseekers)

Free admission: Children less than 7 years of age, journalists and tourism industry professionals (on presentation of identification)

For more tips on other reduced admission prices, continue reading below in my section ‘Other tips’.

Admission notes: There is no reduced admission price for either seniors, or persons of physical/intellectual disability.

How to get there:

By car: Access is via the Basse Corniche (N98). There is free onsite carparking at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, though limited numbers. There is no designated disabled carparking space for those persons with reduced mobility, however you can drop off at the gate at the top of the driveway near the ticket office and persons with reduced mobility can enter via the vehicle gate.

By bus: From Nice or Beaulieu-sur-Mer, you can take bus number 81, get off at the stop ‘Passable’ which is directly across from the entrance driveway to the Villa. This bus also has stops for the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station, and Villa Kérylos if you also intend to visit there. Timetable (current at June 2014, but subject to change) is here ligne 81 (au 10 02 14)

From Monaco, Roquebrune-Cap Martin, Eze-sur-Mer or Menton, take bus number 100, get off at stop ‘Pont St Jean’ and the Villa is 10 minutes walking distance.   This bus has a designated stop for Villa Kérylos too. Timetable (current June 2014, subject to change) is found here 100

By train: Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is located 25 minutes walk from the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station. Follow the coastal pathway Promenade Maurice Rouvier (flat, paved path with no stairs), then you will see the brown sign to turn right up a side street. The last 10 minutes is uphill through residential streets. It is not strenuous but bear in mind Beaulieu has one of the highest sunshine hours on the Côte d’Azur so take a bottle of water on hot days, and also to exercise caution if you have a baby buggy/stroller or you are wheelchair-bound as there are no footpaths on the residential streets. Villa Ephrusssi de Rothschild is situated on the hill-top, you can’t miss it.

promenade Maurice Rouvier to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (flat, paved path with no stairs)

promenade Maurice Rouvier to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (flat, paved path with no stairs)

My other tips :

– For maps and information about the local area, the Beaulieu Tourist Office is located right outside the Beaulieu-sur-Mer train station. Or, you can visit the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Tourist Office located at 59 avenue Denis Semaria, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

blue shutters, local house

blue shutters, local house

– When you purchase your entry ticket at the Villa, ensure you receive the free audioguide (it is available in 9 languages – French, English, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Japanese and Chinese). It is excellent for providing background information on the Baroness Rothschild, her exhibits and rooms at the Villa and brings the Villa to life. The audioguide is a hand-held unit and it’s easy to use for any techno-phobes not confident with technology, and the best part is you can wander the Villa in your own time and listen to only the commentaries of exhibits that interest you. Bear in mind, the Villa is a popular attraction and if there are cruise ships berthed at nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer it is often a day-trip destination for cruise passengers so if you visit the Villa in the late afternoon there may not be any audioguides available.

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– There is an onsite tearoom at the Villa. Menu samples – 2,80€ for an espresso; tea and a pastry of the day 9,50€; salads average 16€ – the view from the tearoom and adjoining terrace is magnificent. The tearoom opens at midday for full lunch and ‘a la carte’ service, but if you want to stop by for a coffee or cake only you have to wait until after 3pm as preference is given to sit-down lunch patrons. Note: The tearoom has the same opening hours as the Villa, except between November and February the tearoom is open only on weekends, school holidays and bank holidays. I don’t have a photo of the tearooms unfortunately because the day I visited it was very busy and I didn’t want to disturb other patrons.

– If you are arriving by train to Beaulieu, there is a supermarket on the way from the train station to the Villa that sells sandwiches, fruit, snack foods, cold drinks. It is located on avenue des Hellenes, it is a ‘Casino’ supermarket (a French chain of supermarkets).

– There are accessible ground level toilets in both the grounds and interior patio of the Villa. You will receive a map of the Villa and grounds when you purchase your entry, and toilets are clearly marked on the map.

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– For a discounted entry price to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, there are a few options:

– Offre famille: Free entry for the second child (7-17 years) with 2 adults and 1 child paying. Free child ticket must be used the same time as the other paying family members.

– If you also intending to visit the Villa Kérylos, you can purchase a combined entry ticket for both Villas (‘Pass 2 Villas’). The usual admission would be 24,50€ to visit both attractions separately, this combined entry discounts the price to 15,50€. You have one month to visit both Villas (single visit to each Villa only) from the first date of purchase (all pricing and conditions subject to change). Ask at the ticket counter.

– If you have arrived to Beaulieu by train using a local train (TER SNCF) from any origin along the Côte d’Azur using either an unlimited daily ‘Zou pass’, or a stand-alone sector ticket, show them your validated train ticket at the Villa’s ticket counter and ask for the discounted entry price. You must visit the Villa on the same day as your train travel.

– A ‘Carte Privilége’ is an annual pass you can purchase for unlimited entry. Costs €55 for a single, €95 for 2 people to share a pass (conditions apply).

– The Villa has Free Wifi. Also, you can download their mobile applications on the App Store and Google Play for iPhone / iPad / iTouch and Android. The mobile applications have commentary and interactive maps, though the only language offering is French at this current date.

mobile application (image copyright from Google Play)

mobile application (image copyright from Google Play)

– Free activity booklets are available for children visiting the Villa. Aimed at children aged 7-12 years, they have games and treasure hunt clues that educate about the Villa and gardens with the help of a mascot, a little mouse named Filou. I forgot to ask for a copy so I’m unsure if they offer this booklet in a language other than French? Will update this post when I find out.

free activity book for kids at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

free activity book for kids at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

– One of the exhibit rooms at the Villa has Fragonard drawings (with ink and wash). Jean-Honoré Fragonard was a French painter and printmaker born locally in Grasse, and Béatrice had a likeness for his artwork. Interestingly, Fragonard completed over 500 paintings in his career, of which only 5 are dated. In 1926, a perfume factory in Grasse took the name Parfurmerie Fragonard in honour of him. If you’re visiting the region and intend to stop by the Fragonard factories at nearby Eze Village or Grasse, you can obtain a 10% discount in the Fragonard perfume shop by showing them the Fragonard perfume leaflet obtained at most local Tourist Offices.

Closing comments:

I highly recommend a visit to Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Whether you are interested in history, Renaissance architecture, art, furniture, you are sure to be dazzled by the Villa interior. I know I felt quite privileged to view the collections there.

The gardens, statues and sculptures are beautiful, and being a popular tourist attraction there may be crowds but sit in the gardens, soak up the views and enjoy the experience.

I hope they expand their mobile applications to be downloadable in more languages, and I hope also that one day people who have restricted mobility can enjoy the experience as much as an able-bodied person like myself. Perhaps one day they will incorporate something similar to the amazing Norio robot in operation at the Château d’Orion.

Have you visited Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild yet?

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COMPETITION – Win a stay at the InterContinental Carlton Cannes!

There are just a few days left to win a weekend at the InterContinental Carlton in Cannes.

To be eligible to enter the draw, you must book a parking slot with Click & Park at Nice Airport until 18 June 2014.  Don’t you think it would be amazing to win a dream weekend for two in one of the French Riviera’s most iconic hotels, the Inter-Continental Carlton?

Prolong last month’s Film Festival in the bright and elegant Belle Époque decor by staying in one of the Junior Suites of this famous luxury hotel on the Croisette.

Your Junior Suite, consisting of a bedroom and a sitting room, offers a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean.

Wake up following morning to a Champagne breakfast!!

You can then make the most of your day on the beach…Under the Mediterranean skies, enjoy an oasis opening onto Cannes bay, a restaurant by the shore, a pontoon, a setting bathed in sunlight…

You will also enjoy lunch for two!!!

Put simply, the Carlton spirit – A sense of well-being, a fine sandy beach, a sun-drenched pontoon, the smell of the sea. Life is good under the Mediterranean sun.

To find out more about the hotel and it’s facilities, click on the link http://www.intercontinental-carlton-cannes.com/en/your-stay-in-cannes/1-bedroom-suite/

Notes for competition entry:

Click & Park is very user-friendly.  Book via the Nice Airport website www.nice.aeroport.fr to reserve your carparking.  They even have search options for persons who have restricted mobility to search for available designated spaces.  The parking layout map for Nice Airport is here below:

Map of parking at Nice Airport

Map of parking at Nice Airport

After purchasing your parking slot, you will receive a booking confirmation. The email has a banner at the bottom of page; click on it.

An email will be sent to relationclients@cote-azur.aeroport.fr to confirm you will take part in the “Prolong the festival” prize draw.

This order confirmation e-mail serves as proof of purchase.

This dream weekend for two includes 2 nights in one Junior Suite – Champagne breakfast – 1 beach pass – 1 lunch on the beach (conditions apply as per Click & Park competition regulations available on Nice Airport website).

TRANSPORT – Train and taxi strike French Riviera

A family member was flying back to the UK today, and unfortunately we had the embarrassment of dropping her at Terminal 1 at Nice Airport while striking taxi drivers were lighting flares and yelling chants.  Not a great parting memory of her visit to our sunny shores.

I appreciate there is disagreement amongst transport companies around competition, especially between taxis and VTCs (tourist cars with drivers), however is a very public demonstration – which looked close to erupting into violence – at one of the busiest French airports a good sign of a tourist-friendly industry?

Is there room for both taxis and private chauffeur companies to co-exist for business?

I know of tourists who have arrived at Nice Airport during taxi strikes, and if it wasn’t for a reservation with a private transfer company they would have been stranded waiting hours for transport.  You would probably not be fuming if you have arrived from a flight from Paris alone.  It would probably be a nightmare if you have just finished a longhaul journey with your children.

I have always found the private transfer companies I have dealt with here to be friendly, punctual and have great rates.  Taxis on the other hand I find pricey (example:  A 10-minute journey which I have paid 12€ or less overseas frequently costs me 20€ here), and I have friends who have been refused fares to travel short distances, with or without luggage.

I hope a satisfactory outcome for everyone is achieved by these frequent strikes.  The whole industry needs an overhaul from the high licensing costs for cabbies, to airport charges, and availability of late-night taxis in tourist towns.

For train strikes, you can check the latest updates on the SNCF link below:

http://www.infolignes.com/previsions.php?futur=futur&zoneId=3

Have you been affected by train or taxi strikes?