It is evident as soon as you leave the terminal building at Nice Airport that something big is going down. Nice is well on the way to getting two new tramways – Ligne 2 and Ligne 3. Like many cities, Nice is building a modern tramway system. Also like many cities across Europe and the UK, Nice once had a significant tramway system not just in the immediate city environment but also spread out along the Cote d’Azur and inland in places into Les Alpes Maritime.
Details of the wide tramway network that existed in the early 20th Century can be found in a series of posts on my blog: https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/category/railways-blog. The majority of these posts were written in December 2013:
Sospel to Menton Tramway; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/sospel-to-menton-tramway; 10th December 2013) – revisited, extended and updated as : (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/the-sospel-to-menton-tramway-revisited-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-51)
Chemins de Fer de Provence; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/chemins-de-fer-de-province; 10th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 2; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-2; 11th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 3; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/chemins-de-fer-de-provence; 12th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 4: Tramways Near Nice; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-4-tramways-near-nice; 13th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 5: More Tramways Around Nice; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-5-more-tramways-around-nice; 14th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 6: More Tramways Still! (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-6-more-tramways-still; 15th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 7: The Line to St. Martin Vesubie; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-7-the-line-to-st-martin-vesubie; 16th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 8: Tramway in the Tinée Valley; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-8-tramway-in-the-tinee-valley, 19th December 2013)
Chemins de Fer de Provence 9: Tramway to Roquestron; (https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-9-tramway-to-roquesteron, 20th December 2013)
Sadly that network went into very rapid decline with the improvement in road transport. It reached its zenith at the end of the 1920s, but by 1934 many lines had closed. By the late 1930s only lines within Nice itself remained open. The remaining lines in Nice finally gave way to competition and the last trams ran on the network in January 1953.
The love affair of the Cote d’Azur and Les Alpes Martimes with Trams was over, permanently. Other forms of transport were faster and more flexible. The trams had hard their day. ….. Or had they? ….
Before the turn of the Millennium things were beginning to change. The city centre of Nice was gridlocked with traffic. Nice had major traffic problems. To overcome these problems, various studies were undertaken, the earliest in 1987 only 44 years after the last trams had run in the city. It wasn’t until 1997 that dedicated bus lanes were implemented and a further study was launched, looking at the implementation of a tram line. The study recommended trams as being less subject to the vagaries of traffic but not as expensive as a subway.
The first tramway, Ligne 1, was confirmed in 2003 and work started in the same year. The line came into service on 24 November 2007 after several weeks of technical trials, even though construction was not fully completed.