The South of France is probably the most popular summer destination in Europe. While it consitently attracts the rich and famous, you don’t have to be either to have a good time there! Here are my tips on how to travel South of France on a shoestring budget – when to go, where to stay, and where to eat.
Pick Your Time to Travel Wisely
The hype picks up around May, with the Grand Prix of Monaco kicking things off. You sense this when you go out – the restaurants and bars start charging “grand prix prices” – sometimes nearly double the normal price. Coffee for 25 Euros? A bottle of sparkling water for 20? Thanks, I think I’ll pass.
The key to doing France on a budget is to pick your timing wisely. Avoid big events, such as the grand prix, the jazz festival, the firework festival. Basically avoid going there in summer. The best time to travel is September to November. The weather is warm, it’s sunny and it’s nowhere near as busy. You can read more about South of France off-season here.
If you must visit during the luscious summer season (I don’t blame you), avoid staying at hotels. They get booked up way in advance, and sadly don’t offer much value for money. You will typically find a small hotel with the bare essentials setting you back at least 130 Euros a night. Instead, stay at an Airbnb! I’m a HUGE fan of Airbnb and cannot recommend the experience enough. We’ve tried it in France, in Amsterdam, in Sweden, and even in South Africa. Our last hosts in Nelspruit invited us to join them in an evening of wine blending for a national wine blending competition! If you haven’t already tried Airbnb, do it! Here’s a few great options you can find in the South of France under 120 EUR per night.
You know what I mean??? If you haven’t already joined the Airbnb community, I strongly recommend you do! And here’s a little present from me, book using the link below and get $40 off your first booking! You’re Welcome!
Once you arrive at you’re beautiful Airbnb, find out where the nearest bakery is. Each morning, you can treat yourself to freshly baked baguette, croissant or if you’re feeling très français, try a pissaladière
My personal favourite is the Banette bakery. They sell the world’s most buttery croissants for only 95 cents. Don’t forget to dunk them into your coffee for the extra delicious flavour.
What I love about France is that you can eat well, no matter what your budget is! For example, check out Chez Pipo in Nice – which has been serving the best socca in town since 1923! Check out Les Perles de Monte Carlo for a reasobably priced sea-food platters and fresh oysters! If you’re feeling lazy, just grab a pan bagnat from the nearest bakery (it’s basically a Niçoise Salad in a sandwich). What could be better for a quick bite to eat, or a picnic on the beach?
One of my most favourite places to have dinner in Nice is Du Gesu on 1 Place du Jesus, in old town. It’s not pretentious, the food is great, the service is fast and friendly! Definitely try their beignets de fleur de courgette (stuffed courgette flowers) and the lasagna. Make sure to get there for 7 pm on the dot, as the place fills up in minutes!
Restaurant Du Gesu
When in the South of France, one MUST try the Fenocchio ice cream. Another old-timer in Nice, the ice-cream parlour first opened in 1966 on Place Rossetti in Nice’s old town. They serve a collection of 94 flavours – 59 ices-cream and 35 sorbets ranging from the great classics to exciting innovations! Still run by the Fenocchio family, this is a real institution.
Fenocchio Ice Cream Parlour
Tip from a local: when ordering wine, go for the pichet of the house wine. These vary from a quarter liter, to half to a whole and are more often good than not.
Pesto Gnocchi, Lasagna accompanied by chilled house Rosè
I hope you found these tips useful! If you have, why not share it with a friend who would appreciate it? In my next post, I’ll cover what you can do and see in the South of France if you’re traveling on a budget!
Stay tuned. À bientôt!
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