Nice Airport

Nice Airport: an Unofficial Guide

Hell in summer, but you get here quickly!

And once you've got here you'll need somewhere to stay: click here to see details of our 2 bedroom apartment on the Promenade des Anglais

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The Gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno bore the legend "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here". He was probably thinking of Nice Airport on a Saturday in August! Actually this is a little unfair on Nice Airport.

Nice is the fifth largest city in France. Nice Airport is the busiest airport in France, outside Paris. It serves not only Nice but the whole of the French Riviera and a good part of the Italian Riviera as well. Generally speaking it copes well, the building is light and airy and the view of the Mediterranean is superb. At peak times in July and August, however, the sheer volume of passengers means that things can get a bit fraught.

There are two terminals, connected by shuttle bus. Terminal 1 used to be for international flights and Terminal 2 for domestic flights. That was obviously too sensible, so changes were made!

Terminal 2 is dominated by easyJet, with UK flights from Belfast, Bristol, Gatwick, Liverpool, Luton,  Newcastle and Stansted. Other easyJet flights are from Basel, Berlin, Dortmund, Geneva and Paris.

They are joined by Air France (who have virtually dropped out of the UK market), Delta (with the only direct flight to the USA, Kennedy), KLM and a few minor airlines.

Terminal 1 is for all other airlines, including Alitalia, British Airways, British Midland, Iberia, Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss and Virgin Express.

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Airport Facilities

Catering

There are, as in every airport, a number of ridiculously expensive poor quality bars, cafes and restaurants. Avoid if possible - even the easyJet sandwich is haute cuisine by comparison.

Left Luggage

There is a left luggage service at Terminal 1 in the business aviation and helicopter zone; cost Euro 4 per item. If you have to check out of your hotel or apartment early and have a late flight it might be worth considering laeving your luggage here rather than carting it around Nice all day.

Post Office

As befits a major international airport, the post office (T1 only) shuts between 12.00 noon and 2.00 pm, despite opening as late as 9.00 am and closing promptly at 4.45 pm. Needless to say it's shut all day on Saturday and Sunday. Want to buy stamps at 1.00 pm? Not while the counter clerk's having a 2 hour lunch!

Meeting Points

The Terminal 1 meeting point is an aquarium situated on the ground floor between the departures and arrivals zone. The Terminal 2 meeting point is located opposite the information desk in public area, signposted above eye-level.

Shops

There are plenty of shops, but basically there is nothing you can't buy cheaper and better in Nice itself. Bizarrely, although Terminal 2 caters to the cheap no-frills market, it is populated by exotic, expensive but empty boutiques staffed by exotic, expensive but terminally bored sales girls! Don't waste your money.

Baggage Handling and Immigration

Baggage handling is usually very efficient, with few delays. However, be warned that there are usually no porters. Luggage trolleys are readily available, but you need a 1 Euro piece to unlock them. There are note changing machines (not always working), but if you haven't got Euros you can't get a trolley.

If you are arriving from one of the "Schengen" countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Benelux) there are no immigration formalities - it's just like a domestic flight. Passengers arriving from other countries, including the UK and Eire, must show their passports. This is generally a painless experience, although there can be queues at peak periods.

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Transportation

As we say elsewhere, the cheapest and most efficient way of getting into Nice is the Airport bus - No. 98 for the Promenade des Anglais, No. 99 for the railway station.

If there are more than 2 of you, you can risk a taxi, but make sure the driver has the meter running and does not take you on an unwanted scenic tour of Nice. If you are going to our rental apartment the driver should go straight along the Promenade des Anglais. If you find yourselves going through the back streets of Nice you are being ripped off!

Car Rental

You can rent a car at Nice Airport, but beware, at peak times you can wait up to two hours for delivery. And that's if you've booked in advance. If you haven't, forget it!

At all costs avoid the following scenario. You arrive at Terminal 2 and leave your loved ones waiting with the luggage while you take the shuttle bus to the car rental area. Two hours later you emerge triumphant with your car, only to find you can't get to Terminal 2 arrivals with a private car - it's reserved for buses and taxis.

You have to park in the Terminal 2 car park - and be very careful to note your position, as it was designed by a descendent of the guy who built the labyrinth in Crete - and attempt to find your less than happy family.

And reflect that your fellow passengers who took our advice and used public transport were already on the beach an hour ago!

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How do I get cheap flights from the UK and Ireland?


In two words - book early! If you book early (and pay early!) you can still get cheap flights even in the summer. But don't expect a bargain if you book in July for a flight in August. There is a bigger choice of flights to Nice than ever these days: EasyJet flies from Luton, Gatwick, Liverpool, Stansted, Newcastle, Belfast and Bristol. BMIBaby flies from East Midlands and Teeside while British Midland flies directly from London Heathrow, with connections to and from a number of provincial airports. Jet2 flies from Manchester and Leeds. Aer Lingus flies from Dublin and Cork. These days even British Airways from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester or Birmingham has the occasional bargain!

Then there's Flybe from Exeter and Southampton and FlyGlobespan from Durham Tees Valley and Edinburgh. Be aware that some of these smaller airlines only fly in the Summer.

There is an excellent website called WhichBudget.com which summarises the current offerings of all the budget airlines, and compares them with the offerings of non-budget airlines.


And what about flights from the US and Canada?


There is only one direct flight to Nice from North America, and that's the daily Delta flight from JFK. It seems difficult to get a discount on this flight, but if you can manage it you will save a lot of hassle. In 2006 Delta inaugurated a non-stop flight from Atlanta to Nice. Whether it will be available in 2007 - Delta alone knows!

Otherwise there are many gateway flights via London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Milan and Rome. Get a good travel agent or try on-line with an Airline Ticket Wholesaler like CheapoAir.com.

Whatever you do try to avoid ground transportation between Gatwick & Heathrow in London and Orly and Charles de Gaulle in Paris. For those of you who know New York, it's like traveling between JFK and Newark - a journey not compatible with keeping your sanity!

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The Nice Airport Official Guide

The above notes are the biased view of someone who has been using Nice Airport for the last fifteen years.

Click here for the Official Guide.

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