Caution: Based on a brief visit back in 2004. Heavy list updated for summer timetable 2012.

 

Introduction & Traffic

Nice's airport is located at the western end of the city, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It doesn't only cater to Nice itself - its catchment area extens along the whole Côte d'Azur, notably including the crazy principality of Monte Carlo. So, what does that mean for planespotters? There's a great deal of variety in the traffic movements. Most European carriers have scheduled routes to France's third-biggest airport, which also serves as a focus city for Air France and as a hub for Easyjet. But there's more: In the summer months, charter flights from all over Europe can be seen here. Year round, there's also a never ending supply of business jets dropping by, transporting sun seeking movie stars and shopping hungry heads from far-away states. And yes, there's also the occasional heavy plane saying hello. As of December 2011 for the summer timetable 2012 those are:

AirlineFrom/ToFlightDaysArr NCEDep NCEAcft
TACV Praia, Cape Verde (RAI) VR646/7 Tue/Fri 09.40 11.00 B757
Emirates Dubai (DXB) EK077/8 daily 14.15 16.10 A343
Delta New York (JFK) DL082/3 daily 10.25 14.10 B764
Air Transat Montreal (YUL) TS648/9 Fri 06.40 08.20 A310
Air Transat Montreal (YUL) TS378/9 Mon 12.05 13.45 A310

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Spotting Point: Cap 3000 Parking Lot

Probably the only point where good shots can be made is at the headland behind the parking area of the Cap3000-supermarket.

Just behind the airport on the western side there is a river delta running into the sea, and on the landhead on the other side of the river is the spotting point. There is a big "Cap3000" shopping mall there, and even some hotels. You can try to look for a bus going there (I know there are) or tell the taxi where you want to go to. It is about a 3km/40min walk.
From the shopping mall just head in the direction of the water, climb over some bigger rocks and go out onto the pebbly headland as fare as you can. Don't be bothered by the fishermen there :-)

Unfortunately you are north of the runway axis and looking south, so the sun is only good from late afternoon.

Getting there 3km from the airport south of the parking lot for the Cap 3000 supermarket
Facilities At the nearby Cap 3000 supermarket
Focal Length 300mm is the absolute minimum here for A320-sized jets. Bring 400mm+ for business jets!
Views Planes landing on Rwy 04L and taxiing for departure on Rwy 04R
Best Time Late afternoon only
Attention Heat haze can be a problem; don't go here with a shorter lens than 300mm!

Approach 04L

Landing 04L in the nice evening sunlight!.

Taxiing to 04R

That's Nice!

Here you can see the headland, the river and the airport!

 

Other runway direction: Promenade des Anglais

In the rare event that Runways 22L/R are active, you should be able to position yourself anywhere along the Promenade des Anglais, the seafront walk that runs out to the airport all the way from downtown. Reportedly, it is not possible to see planes on the ground though (e.g. taxiing for departure). The same warnings as above apply regarding the position of the sun (late afternoon only) and focal length needed.

Here's a night shot of a climb-out from Rwy04R seen from the Promenade, just to give you an impression.

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