Hot! Balancing Act

Or How to Take the Train from Nice to Finale

Traveling for me has always been a balance of letting go of my Type A tendencies to over plan and opening myself up to the unexpected things that happen when you move on the fly. While I’ve gotten better about arriving in towns without a place to stay, know the basics of city planning to find my way around without a map, and have ridden enough trains and busses to have a feel for schedules, every now and then I’m reminded that these are things I’ve learned over time.

One quiet Sunday in Finale, it was by chance that I logged onto the social networks and received a message from a climbing friend who is Type Z to my Type A. He’d spent the last three days flying from Phoenix to London, Chunneling to Paris, and night-training to Nice. He was now planning to take a boat to Finale – by way of Corsica. File this under: What the What?!

If you GoogleMap walking directions from Nice to Finale, it will recommend getting on a ferry to Corsica then turning around to take the ferry from Corsica to Savona. The whole idea is only for those with plenty of time on their hands or an interest in a sea voyage. Round trip is 11 hours and you will still only be in Savona – 18 kilometers down the road from Finale.

For those interested in the direct route, the train goes from central Nice to downtown Finale in just over 2 hours. But as my friend let me know – for the uninitiated, it’s hard to figure out how to piece it together.  So in honor of what would turn out to be only a footnote in his misadventures, here are directions on how to get from Nice to Finale by train:

There are several challenges getting from Nice to Finale mostly because you are crossing between two countries. Not only will you need to change train lines from France’s SNCF to Italy’s TrenItalia, but the city names also change from French to Italian.

Buying Your Ticket

Go to the ticket window. You will not be able to buy a ticket from the self-service kiosks directly to Finale. The agents at the windows speak English – at least enough to understand where you will want to go. Ask for a ticket to Finale Ligure, Italy. This year, the price is 11 euro.

They should sell you a ticket directly to Finale, but sometime they don’t. If they only sell you a ticket to the border, don’t worry. You can get the remaining portion on the Italy side.

If you are in a hurry and the lines to the ticket windows are long, go to the blue self-service kiosks and buy a regional ticket to Ventimille. But beware – the machines only take coins, not bills or credit cards. Cost for this portion of the trip is about 4 euro.

Finding Your Train

You will be taking a regional train from the main train station in Nice called Nice Ville to the Italian border town of Ventimiglia. The trick here is that in France, Ventimiglia is called Ventimille. Once you have purchased your ticket, check the big board for the next train going in the direction of Monaco-Menton-Ventimille. Get on this train.

Crossing Borders

The train ride along the Mediterranean into Italy is one of the most beautiful coastlines you will see. Try to sit by the window on the right side of the train.  It is a quick ride – about an hour – to the Italian boarder. When you arrive in Ventimille / Ventimiglia  the French train is at the end of its line. Exit the train and look for your Italian train or buy the second portion of your ticket to Finale.


Hopefully, you were able to purchase a ticket for the full journey in Nice, but if not, go to the lobby and buy a ticket to Finale Ligure. You can do this at the ticket window or self-service kiosk. On the self-service kiosk, you will need to type in your destination of Finale Ligure Marina. The machine takes credit cards. Look for your regional train on the big board. It will be heading in the direction of Genova or Parma.

The connection time between the French and Italian trains is not long – typically 10-15 minutes. This is enough time to purchase your Italian ticket if needed, but don’t linger. Ventimiglia is not the most scenic city in Italy.

Welcome to Finale

The regional train will make many stops taking just over an hour to arrive in Finale. You will be near when you reach Albenga. The town before Finale is Pietra Ligure. When you arrive in this station, collect your bags and be ready to exit at the next stop. You will pass through a tunnel and arrive in beautiful Finale.


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