Living in Nice on the Cote d'Azur I feel blessed in many ways. It is home to some of the very best food on the planet. The sea is one of the most wonderful shades of blue that you could ever wish to experience. There is a fantastic array of culture including scores of fantastic museums and galleries. Also, its location means that it is easy to visit many other wonderful places such as Italy and, as this journal would suggest, Marseille. I also feel lucky because Nice has one of the best public transport systems in the world.
I noticed this on the very first day I arrived there. I was able to catch a clean, quick and efficient bus into the centre of the town for just 1Euro. I also discovered that there is even a faster version for 1Euro. The buses and trams are very regular and it costs just 1Euro to travel anywhere in the city. There is also even a bike rental system that is available for both tourists and residents. Whenever, I visit other cities, I cannot help but compare their transport systems. For example, in my hometown of Rotherham when I spend five pounds to travel a relatively short distance, I cannot avoid somehow feeling short-changed. Also, when I visit Paris, I am taken aback at the lack of cleanliness and regularity of much of the transport system. So, when my girlfriend and I took a trip to. Marseille, it's transport system was put under the microscope.
It took the scrutiny rather well. We arrived at the Saint Charles SNCF train station. Our first journey was from our there to our hotel in Timone. We were very please to discover that this was seven stops on the metro and would take just 15 minutes. We were also please to discover that we could purchase unlimited travel on the metro system for the excellent price of 5 Euros. Over the course of our stay we discovered that the system was clean and efficient. Trains ran every five minutes on a Saturday. I was also very pleased to find that the carriages were not so crowded - we were able to find a seat every time we took it.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Marseille metro system. However, there were a couple of criticisms I had. On the Sunday, the trains did not run at all regularly. We had to wait almost 12 minutes for a train. The second would be that at night, it didn't feel 100% safe. We saw plenty of teenagers who were extremely loud and were openly using drugs. This made my girlfriend feel rather intimidated. There were also rats running unimpeded around the platform in the Old Port station. My girlfriend was no major fan of this either.
At the end of our trip we concluded that the metro system was very good - certainly superior to Paris. However, we also concluded that it was best avoided after midnight.