The gateway to the French Riviera, Nice is one of two new host cities this time around compared with France 98 (the other is Lille), and they’re pulling out all the stops to put on a great show down on the south coast.
A favourite haunt for expats and people searching the winter (and summer) sun, Queen Victoria was very fond of the city and visited regularly in the late 1800s. That goes some way to explain why there’s a statue of the English monarch in the city, and the English connections go back even further to the construction of the main seafront walkway - the funds for which were donated by an English barrister in 1820, leading to it being named the Promenade des Anglais.
Whether you’re up for an active couple of days down by the seaside or just lying on the beach and soaking up some of the (we hope) inevitable sunshine, Nice and the rest of the Cote d’Azur has something to offer everyone.
Department - Alpes-Maritimes
Population - 340,000
Average June temperature - 20.9 C
All fixtures local time (BST +1 hour).
Sunday 12 June, 18.00: Poland v Northern Ireland – Group C
Friday 17 June, 21.00: Spain v Turkey – Group D
Wednesday 22 June, 21.00: Sweden v Belgium – Group E
Round of 16
Monday 27 June, 21.00: Runner-up B v Runner-up F
Nice is served by Nice Cote d’Azur Airport, which sits just 5km southwest of the main city and is one of the busiest airports in France. A hub for Easyjet, it offers connections to a number of other host cities through Air France and their budget airline Hop!, as well as direct flights to and from the UK and Ireland.
UK and Irish destinations served by Nice Airport
Aer Lingus - Dublin
British Airways - London Gatwick and London Heathrow
BA CityFlyer - Dublin and London City
Easyjet - Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, and seasonal to Belfast International, Bristol, Edinburgh and Newcastle
Monarch - Seasonal to Birmingham and London Gatwick
Norwegian Air Shuttle - Seasonal to London Gatwick
There are a couple of ways of getting from the airport to the city centre - the cheapest is by using the local bus service (number 23), which costs €1.50 from the driver onboard. It takes around 20 minutes to reach the main train station (Gare Nice Thiers). Services run from 5.30am to 8pm.
If you’re travelling outside those hours, there is an airport express buses (numbers 98 and 99) which run basically the same route, albeit a little faster, for €6. The tickets are bought onboard, but also have the benefit of acting as a day-pass for all Nice public transport, which may be worth bearing in mind if you’re planning on taking a bus/tram as part of your onward journey.
The express shuttles run until midnight.
There is also a small train station, Nice St Augustin, which is around a 10 minute walk from the terminal. This connects you with the Nice Thiers in the city centre, as well as destinations along the riviera such as Antibes and Cannes.
Taxis from the airport to any destination in town are likely to set you back around €40.
In theory, the journey is walkable in around an hour or so, following the coast (keep the sea on your right hand side, otherwise you’re heading the wrong way!). depending on how much luggage you have and how prepared you are to pound the pavements. On a hot day with a heavy suitcase, we’d definitely advise splashing out the €1.50 and taking the bus.
Gare Nice Thiers (also known as Gare de Nice Ville) connects with the TGV and national rail network, and receives trains from Paris as well as Italian destinations like Milan, Rome and Venice. Journey times to Paris are around 6 hours.
There are regional TER connections to all the towns on the riviera such as Antibes, Cannes, Monaco and Monte Carlo, Toulon, as well as Intercité services to Marseille and as far as Bordeaux.
The station is located at the northern end of town, around a 2km walk from the sea-front and the sights in the Vielle Ville (old town).
Tucked away in the southeast corner of the country, if you’re driving to Nice you’ll invariably be taking the A8 motorway from Aix-en-Provence.
From northern cities you’ll be following signs for Marseille for a good while, before turning west as you approach Aix on the A7, but we wouldn’t necessarily fancy covering the 900+km from Paris, or the 1150km or so from Lille or Lens without someone to share the driving with.