The Cote d’Azur, notably Cannes, is the ideal place to immerse yourself in the French Riviera’s glamour. And this is how we experienced the French Riviera on a budget!
Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s adorn the streets, beautiful people sunbathing on the beach and casinos pick up their best customers by helicopter from their yacht (yes this actually happens).
All this may seem unreachable for those who do not have a million budget, but there are many ways to share the festivities on the Cote d’Azur without ruining themselves.
Here are Our Insider Tips for Visiting Cote d’Azur on a Budget
1. Rent an Apartment
There are thousands of holiday apartments on the Cote d’Azur that are empty for much of the year, and you can make some really great bargains in Cannes – a four-person apartment in the Pointe Croissette area can go as little as €200 a week.
However, prices rise sharply in May when the major film festival takes place as in August, which is a popular tourist month.
September and Spring are the best times of the year for those who want to make a bargain and the weather usually also be good enough for beach visits. I suggest checking out Cannes Estate for a beautiful newly renovated apartment for a bargain price!
2. Eat Like the French
Your biggest expense on the river will undoubtedly be your food. Prices are high both at restaurants and in local shops. The solution is the Carrefour Supermarket in Antibes and Nice where you can make really good bargains and pack up with food to cook yourself.
Eat locally: freshly baked bread and cheese is an unbeatable combination that does not cost the shirt and the ultimate way to experience the French Riviera on a budget.
3. Check for Restaurant Deals
There are some phenomenal restaurants along the coast, but they usually come with phenomenal prices too.
Check out the carte du jour (today’s menu) which may contain some great deals, especially at lunchtime. If you are looking for something really affordable, check out the PhilCat kiosk in Cannes which serves huge lunch salads for a couple of euros or queue for Pizza and Co in Antibes.
The family-run La Sousta in Cannes also offers tasty and reasonably priced dinners for just over €10 per head course.
If you really want to get away with something, try the €33 menu at the trendy Mantel restaurant – here you will be served with an incredible three-course menu for the price of one of their main courses.
4. Take a Budget Flight
Start your French Riviera budget trip by booking a budget flight. The easiest and cheapest way to get to the Cote d’Azur is by plane to Nice.
From Sweden you can fly with the low cost airline directly from Stockholm Arlanda and Göteborg Landvetter. Accommodation in southern Sweden flies smoothly with Norwegian from Kastrup. The price of an air ticket to Nice is on average a thousand dollars return and slightly higher in the summer months. Search for the cheapest flight deals on Expedia.
5. Take the Bus
For the transfer to and from the airport in Nice, the best option is the local bus, a trip that costs only ~€1.5 (alternatively you can buy ten tickets for €10 and save money on future trips).
Bus number 200 takes you all the way to Cannes (timetable is available here), but be prepared for the journey to be long. Bus number 8, with open ceilings, is not only cheap (€1.5 per trip) but also gives you a great view of the city. This is our secret tip to traveling the French Riviera on a budget.
6. Experience the Local Culture on a Budget
The Matisse Museum in Nice has a collection of artwork by local artist Henri Matisse, and best of all: entry is free.
Another must be the hill in Antibes with a guy on the top, from here you get the best view of the superyachts in Antibes harbor and in Fréjus there is a Roman amphitheater to admire. Finally, no trip to the French Riviera would be complete without a visit to beautiful Monaco. All the aforementioned cities are easily reached, and not least cheap, by train. A return trip from Cannes to Monaco costs around €17.
7. Set the Screen on the Beach
Large parts of the coast consist of private beaches where a sun lounger can cost up to €30 a day. But there are also public beaches that are free to visit and where the sunbeds on average cost €4.
Bijou Plage, a general beach at the Pointe Croissette in Cannes, is a sandy beach with excellent opportunities for snorkeling. In the area around Cap d’Antibes there are a lot of cliffs where you can sunbathe for free.
Exclusive Plage Garoupe on the east side of Cap also has a small public beach and many rocks to snuggle around. The beaches are often frequented during the weekends, so plan your visit during a weekday. But if the temperature is below 24 degrees, you probably will have the beach for yourself – local residents usually stay away during the “cold” days.
Feel free to share a bottle of rose on the beach and enjoy the sunset, an excellent alternative to an expensive wine at the restaurant.