On-line Guide: Carte Isabelle the Cote d’Azur rail pass
Posted May 2018 in Go & Do
The Carte Isabelle family rail pass is one of the South of France’s best kept travel secrets offering unlimited train journeys on the Alpes-Maritimes network for one day for just €35. That means hop-on hop-off rail travel from Cannes to Menton for two adults and two children.
‘Unlimited’ means just that. You can be cruising above La Croisette at 6am, then zipping through Monaco at midnight.
The rail pass also includes two mountain branch lines. The first, up to Grasse, was built 10 years ago to connect the coast with France’s perfume capital. The second, to Tende in the Italian Alps, was built a century ago, and remained part of Italy until 1947. The ten stops on this Train des Merveilles line are a hiker’s dream.
How to get to most out of your Carte Isabelle? Use the pass to the max with these three itineraries.
- For foodies we recommend the daily market at Ventimiglia (it’s actually an Italian station served by SNCF, at Carte Isabelle’s farthest reach). Stuffed tortelli meet Alba truffles, plus rounds of Prosciutto di Parma for a picnic at home. A fantastic idea for a special lunch is in Nice Riqueur’s rue Barla restaurant zone 40 minutes down the tracks where Michelin guide favourites like Jan proliferate.
- For glamour, breakfast on the beach in Juan-les-Pins. Take a coffee on the terrace of the Hotel Belles Rives (former resident, F Scott Fitzgerald) then stroll across the Cap to Antibes. Use your Carte Isabelle to reach Monaco, 35 minutes away. The gaming tables of the Casino de Monte-Carlo cost €17 to enter but beware, dress codes apply!. For an aperitif try the secret A-list spot of La Pinède just below Cap d’Ail train station. Then re-alight for Cannes to hit superclub La Baoli.
- For beaches all you need is a Carte Isabelle, a towel and your sun cream. The most spectacular station sands are Plage de la Buse below Roquebrune and Plage de la Mariniere below Villefranche.