Budget Europe 2008

by Ralph Martin


Nice is as well-known for its choking traffic and soot-covered Beaux-Arts facades as it is for its grand hotels and beaches. Now there's an alternative to waiting in those lines of cars: The city opened its new tram system in November 2007, providing quiet, cheap transport around the city's most important stops. A bonus is that the neighborhoods along the entire route have been scrubbed and given facelifts, including a revitalized Place Masséna in the center of town. Don't expect San Francisco–style trolleys—these futuristic cars (pictured) are sleek, aerodynamic, and more akin to glass versions of the ultrafast TGV train ($2 a ride, or $9 for a day pass). Like its brethren in Bordeaux, which opened its tram system in 2003 ($2 a ride), and Athens, which opened its own tram line for the Olympics in 2004 (90 cents a ride), the result is a stylish way to avoid car rental. Especially high on the geek-chic meter is Athens, for its trams' design by Ferrari coachbuilder Sergio Pininfarina, while Bordeaux's ground-level power system keeps unsightly wires out of view. But beyond technology, trams provide access: Athens's Edem stop features an eponymous beachfront restaurant just steps from the tram, the ultimate in hop-on, hop-off tourism.

Nice transit
Tel: 33 892 707 407 (Office of Tourism)

Bordeaux transit
Tel: 33 5 56 00 66 00 (Office of Tourism)

Athens transit
Tel: 30 210 325 3123 (Office of Tourism)

NEXT: Stray off the beaten track on your Grand Tour

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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