April is here! For most people this means the arrival of spring is well underway. For myself, this is when the cogs really start turning for preparation leading up to the big May events, Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix.
Of course, I’ll be publishing in-depth guides for both Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix soon aimed at helping first-time visitors (or regulars) to the events get the most out of their stay on the Côte d’Azur.
APRIL EVENTS ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA
The French Riviera has a number of major events occurring in April including CANNESERIES, MIPDoc, MIPFormats, MIPTV, Monaco Ocean Week, the Maria Callas Exhibition at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Top Marques Monaco, Performance d’Acteur comedy festival, Antibes Art Fair, Red Bull Air Race and the Cannes Triathlon to name a few 🙂
Unfortunately, there are also a number of transport strikes which makes things challenging logistically.
Transport strikes are part and parcel of living here in France, however the damage that a transport strike does to the tourism and event industry is exponential : visitor expenditure for delays, cancellations, arranging alternative transport (rather than using trains/buses) means they have less money to spend overall on accommodation, food and beverage, event advertising, shopping.
Strikes often occur here during bank holidays or vacances scolaires (school holidays) which are optimum times for unions to capitalise on huge movements of people.
Regional councils need to appreciate the planning and budgets that go into leisure and business tourism and if basic amenities such as reliable public transport to and from the airport as well as between towns is not readily available, tourists will choose to go elsewhere to major cities where amenities run smoothly.
This post aims to give you some handy tips to manage life-on-the-ground if you are attending any of these upcoming events on the Côte d’Azur.
With well-timed grèves (strikes), regional TER train services will be affected by over 30 days of strikes scheduled 5-9 April and until 28 June that will cross over with a number of major French Riviera events.
Here are the dates for the upcoming train disruptions:
Sunday 8 and Monday 9 April
Friday 13 and Saturday 14 April
Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 April
Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 April
Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April
Thursday 3 and Friday 4 May
Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9 May (Note: Wednesday is a big departure day leading up to the Ascension holiday weekend)
Sunday 13 and Monday 14 May (return from Ascension weekend)
Friday 18 and Sunday 19 May (departures for Pentecôte weekend)
Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 May (Note: Thursday is the first day of the 4-day Monaco Grand Prix event)
Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 May
Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 June
Thursday 7 and Friday 8 June
Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 June
Sunday 17 and Monday 18 June
Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June
Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 June
IMPORTANT: For the dates above with train strikes, schedules will be published from 17h for the following day’s travel; for example if you want a timetable for Tuesday 29 May it will be released online from 17h on Monday 28 May. To see the train times on these strike days, go to: https://www.ter.sncf.com/paca/horaires/info-trafic-greve-sncf-ter
The main TER route people use is called Ligne 8 and runs between Les Arcs and Ventimiglia which includes the stations for Cannes, Golfe Juan, Juan les Pins, Antibes, Biot, Villeneuve Loubet, Cagnes-sur-Mer, St Laurent du Var, Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Eze-sur-Mer, Cap d’ail, Monaco, Roquebrune Cap Martin and Menton.
For TER strike updates, you can also visit: https://www.sncf.com/fr/itineraire-reservation/info-trafic/ter
Envibus which run the bus routes for Antibes, Juan les Pins, Sophia Antipolis, Biot and Vallauris has transport updates on their website www.envibus.fr or the Communauté d’Agglomération Sophia Antipolis (CASA) website; look under the ‘Transports’ tab.
Lignes Azur which run buses for Nice, Cagnes-sur-Mer and Villeneuve Loubet have timetable updates on their website www.lignesazur.com; go to ‘Se deplacer’ and ‘Infos réseau’ for strike updates. For changes to routes, go to the regional transport website here: Buses on the French Riviera
NICE CÔTE D’AZUR AIRPORT
Unfortunately, communication from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is not particularly great during strikes.
Air France is well known for industrial action at holiday periods and has scheduled strikes for the following April dates below. This includes a mix of pilots, cabin crew and ground staff so contact the airline prior to travel to check the status of your flight as generally 50% of flights are cancelled, delayed or brought forward.
Saturday 7 April
Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 April
Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 April
Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 April
If you need to rebook your Air France flight on any of these dates above, read here for the process: Air France April 2018 Strikes
For general French airport strike updates, my ‘go-to’ websites for information are:
Network Operations Portal (NOP) – read their Headline News for strike updates
Direction des Opérations (DSNA) – bilingual information about the air traffic situation in France
Syndicat National des Contrôleurs du Trafic Aérien (in French) – the official site for the ATC (Air Traffic Controllers) Union.
If you’re visiting Cannes for the inaugural festival for international series, there are a few perks for attendees:
Shopping: If you buy anything at Galeries Lafayette and show your CANNESERIES badge you get a 10% discount (*conditions apply instore).
Happy Hour: Who doesn’t love happy hour? Drop by these bars from 6pm to 8pm during the festival and you’ll get preferential prices on some drinks. Some of the participating bars for ‘Happy Series’ are:
Charlys Bar, 5 rue du Suquet
Ma Nolan’s on rue Buttura
Morrisons Pub, 10 rue Tessiere
La Bouche à Oreille, 7 rue des Garbes
Le Posto Publico, 9 rue Victor Cousin
Le Tube, 10 rue Florian
Plage C Beach, 45 boulevard de la Croisette
The Quays, Quai St Pierre
Taxis to and from Cannes
I constantly get feedback from both leisure and business travellers to the French Riviera, particularly those visiting Cannes, that taxis are too expensive.
In 2017, a study was completed about world taxi prices and out of 88 major destinations Paris, Nice and Monaco didn’t fare (pun intended) too well, all 3 were included in the Top 10 List of Most Expensive World Taxi Prices. French Riviera taxis have been known to add surcharges on bank holidays, weekends, late night transfers, wait time, extra luggage, pets or having 4 or more passengers.
I know people who have been charged a base fare of €85 oneway from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport to Antibes in quiet traffic and €130 oneway to Cannes in off-peak. Ouch!
There is some good news though – for people attending MIPTV (or Cannes Lions, MIPCOM, ILTM etc) the Préfecture of Nice has declared from 1st March 2018 there will now be set fares for certain locations for taxis to and from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. The set prices are:
Taxi between Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and Nice centre €32
Taxi between Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and Cannes €80
Taxi between Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and Monaco €90
NOTE: If you prebook a Niçois taxi there is an additional surcharge of €4, for a Cannes taxi it is €2.
Another thing to be aware of is if you ask your hotel to book you a taxi; some have been known to order a people mover (minivan) or chauffeured luxury vehicle which are pricier, so always check first.
There is of course UBER which is a topic for a whole other blog post….
Airport buses to/from Cannes
For airport buses to and from Cannes, Aéroport Express Bus number 210 leaves every half hour. Tickets can be purchased from Terminal 1 or 2 at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, the timetable is here Airport Bus Cannes 210 . This is the fastest bus between the airport and Cannes. Returning back to the airport from Cannes, the rue des Serbes bus stop in Cannes is not functional due to construction works so you must get the bus from Quai F at the Cannes train station.
Bus 200 also travels between Nice and Cannes, it is cheaper though much slower. I have been campaigning with other tourism businesses for this Nice-Cannes airport express bus #210 to operate until the final evening flight – currently the last bus leaving Terminal 1 leaves at 8pm leaving many visitors arriving on evening flights no option but private transfers, infrequent night train times or a long wait for bus 200.
RED BULL AIR RACE
The Red Bull Air Race will be hosted in Cannes for the first time from 20-22 April 2018.
For road traffic, there are a number of closures before and during the event which will ensure a pleasant spectator experience and limit frustration for visitors to Cannes.
The road on the seaside frontage of the Croisette will close from 22h on 17 April until the event finishes to facilitate set up and breakdown for the event. The Croisette will be closed for traffic on 20, 21 and 22 April between the hours of 7h30 and 21h (Access will be granted from 21h on the northern side of the Croisette for approved vehicles with badge).
To see the map from the Mairie of Cannes regarding road closures, go here: Red Bull Air Race Cannes road closures
If you have found this blog post informative, please share it on Twitter or Facebook. I’ve put a lot of time into researching current sources of information which will hopefully save people time, money and frustration. Thank you!