I used Rick Steves’ guidebook to prepare for our trip to Nice.
The most useful part of the book for me was the inclusion of the bus numbers that went to different sites and having the bus stops on a map. I don’t know where I would have gotten that information without this book. I was all over the bus system’s website and couldn’t find it easily.
We decided to try to take the bus from Nice to Monaco because Rick made it seem easy. Just jump on the 100 bus and for 1,5 euro you go to Monaco. He even suggested that you make sure you get a seat on the right side of the bus to get the best views.
Armed with this cheerful knowledge we strolled to the bus stop. Our first clue that this might be a bit different than Rick had led us to believe was the vast numbers of people milling around the stop.
We wandered towards the front of the line to make sure we were lining up for the right thing. That’s how long the line was. From the back we could have been lining up for anything. We were promptly yelled at by a man who accused us of line jumping.
Assured that this was a line for the bus, we got in the back. Two buses pulled up. One opened the doors right in front of us. Our part of the line got on whilst enduring the hateful glares of the people who were actually ahead of us in line but found themselves without a place on either bus – including Monsieur I Hate Line Jumpers himself.
There was no getting a seat on the right. It was standing room only and they were packing that bus like a sardine can.
I got a spot standing in a spot for wheelchairs just behind a group of four seats that were facing each other. For the rest of story, do refer to this professionally drawn graphic.
Seat A – Elderly British lady
Seat B – 40ish British lady
Seat C – a guy
Seat D – Elderly British lady
They were sitting in yellow seats which means that old people and disabled people are given priority.
So this French lady gets on the bus. She has an umbrella. (From this point on we will be referring to this as sa parapluie because that is my favorite French word. I was thrilled that it was raining because I got to use the word a lot.)
She starts yelling at the British people in French. Her point was that they were sitting in seats reserved for old people and she wanted the seat. Now she was noticeably younger than the older British ladies so they just looked at her. She started jabbing sa parapluie into the ribs of the guy in seat C.
The lady in seat D jumps up and offers her seat. Non! The angry French woman wants seat C. She keeps hitting the guy until he stands up. It is immediately obvious that he is disabled. He had severe balance issues. The angry French woman recoils. She starts yelling about how she didn’t know he was sick. This wasn’t an act of contrition. She was spitting out the words with scorn and hate.
The lady in seat B gives the crazy French lady her seat. The woman took it but sat with her knees out in the aisle (which was jammed with people) and glared at the world probably because she had to sit near a person she deemed inferior. She kept her back firmly to him.
After about 20 minutes the British people want off the bus. The French lady sprang into action. She let C and D go while making sure C didn’t touch her. She started then brandishing sa parapluie like a weapon. She was like a ninja with that thing. No one was going to get into those empty seats. She actually had the lady from seat A trapped up against the window for a bit until she snapped at the wild French woman. “You could wait until people get out!”
The French ninja sat in C and kept beating sa parapluie on A. She grudgingly allowed other old ladies to sit in B and D. Guess who she was saving A for? Her 20-something non-disabled daughter!
Crazy old bat! I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve ridden the bus in South America.
The bus did get us there though for cheap and with a story that we probably would have missed on the train. We planned on taking the train back but the 100 bus stopped in front of us as we were on our way to the train station so we got on. This time it wasn’t crowded and we got a good seat and the ride went much more like we read about it in the guidebook.