The modern Nice Tramway began service in November 2007.
Beyond's Nice Tramway Map shows the complete route, running in both directions between Comte de Falicon above the Stade du Ray, through the center of town along Ave Jean Médecin and Place Masséna, past Place Garibaldi and the Acropolis, along Bvd St Roch to Pont Michel.
The Nice tramway is an integrated part of the Greater Nice bus system, run by ligne d'azur. The ligne d'azur information and ticket office is located at 3 Place Masséna; this is on the western side of the Place Masséna, under the arches. The office ia open Mon-Fri 7h15-19h and Sat 8h-18h. Here you can get information, buy tickets, and find a big selection of schedules for different lines.
The cost for riding the Nice tramway is the same as for any of the Nice buses. A single ride cost 1.30 euros, for any distance: from one stop to the next, or from one end of the line to the opposite end of the line. (The 1.30 euro price is also true for all buses in the Alpes-Maritimes.)
The complete 8.7 km route of the Nice tramway was opened technically (not for passangers) on 17 Aug 2007, when the first tram-car made the round-trip journey from one end of the line to the other. Since then, more trams have been delivered, the network has been improved with steady advances, and trams have been moving up and down the line with testing and driver training.
The Nice tramway gets its electrical power from overhead cantenary lines, with a couple of exceptions. To maintain the open ascetic view of the Place Masséna and the Place Garibaldi, there are no overhead lines at those places. When the tram arrives at the last stop before crossing the open squares, the trams' pantographs are lowered and the tram continues on battery power.
A History of Tramways in Nice
In January 1900, a network of trams for Nice and the coast was opened, called the Tramways de Nice et du Littoral (TNL). By 1903 the coastal tramways continued past Beaulieu, Monte-Carlo and Menton. By 1920 there was an extensive network of tramways for the entire Alpes-Maritimes, with lines up the valles to many of the back-country perched villages. About half way through this period, in 1910, motive power changed from steam to electric.
From about 1925 on, with the popularity of the automobile and autobuses, the tramway was declared outmoded and its decline was rapid.
A century later and we've come full circle. The first tramway line is being completed in Nice, and lines extending into the hills and along the coast are planned.
The Nice tramway has been designed for handicapped access, but testing as given mixed results. Mounting and descending with powered wheelchairs has worked very well, but there are potential problems with using manual wheelchairs.
The Nice trams weight about 40 tons, and the floor is 2 cm above the platform for an empty tram. A full load of passengers (about 20 tons) causes the tram to lower 2 cm, equal to the platform level. The design plan is that a half-loaded tram is 1 cm above the platform, an apparently acceptable distance for wheelchairs.
Tramway Towns of France
Here's a non-exhaustive list of other French towns with tramways or some tramway history.
Cannes. The Cannes tramway operated from 1889 to 1933; run by Compagnie des Tramways de Cannes (CTC).
Marseille. Marseille has a two-line metro system operating since 1984. The old Marseille tramway has been closed since 2004; the new modern Marseille tramway made its first small step with the opening of the first section in July 2007.
Toulon. There was a Toulon tramway from 1897 to 1954. A modern Toulon tramway is due to open in 2009.
Nantes. [map] Nantes has the largest tramway network in France, 38 km long. The modern Nantes tramway began operation in 1985. The original Nantes tramway operated from 1879, electrified in 1911, reduced to near-zero by the 1939-45 war, and ended in 1958.
Strasbourg. [map] The original Strasbourg tram ran from 1878 (powered by horse), added steam power in 1883, electric power in 1895, and closed in 1960. The modern Strasbourg tramway begain in 1994.
Bordeaux. [map] The first horse-drawn Bordeaux tramway begain in 1880, changed to electric in 1900 and closed in 1958. The latest Bordeaux tramway began in December 2003.
Montpellier. The Montpellier tramway began with electric power, and ran from 1898 to 1949. The modern Montpellier tramway began in July 2000.
Toulouse. The Toulouse tramway began with horse traction in 1887, added electric power in 1906, and stopped operations in 1957. A modern Toulouse tramway is scheduled for opening in 2009.
Paris. [map] The original Paris tramway began in 1855, nearly 50 years before the famous Paris Metro, and ran until 1938. The modern Parisienne tramways serve mainly the periphery of the city. Tramway line T1 runs between Saint Denis (north of Paris) and Noisy-le-Sec northeast of Paris . Line T2 runs between la Défense at the western edge of the city, south past Saint Cloud, to Issy-les-Moulineaux, southwest of Paris.