In my previous article, I shared my tips on how to travel to South of France if you’re on a budget. Once you’re there, here is what you can do to enjoy the gorgeous french Riviera without breaking the bank.

Villefranche Bay

Day Activities

There is much to see in the South of France – from antique markets, to museums of modern art, to villas that house some of the world’s most impressive collections for visitors to admire. If you get tired of the culture and the beach, you can head up to the mountains and explore the Alpes Maritimes villages that stand defying time, paying homage to some of the greatest artists that have ever lived.

 

1. Visit the museums of Nice

The Museum of Modern Art in Nice houses an impressive collection and always has interesting exhibits. Here you can see works from the likes of Yves Klein and Niki de Saint Phalle. The tickets cost 10 EUR and includes 24 hour entrance to other galleries and museums around town, including Galerie des Ponchettes, Espace Ferrero, Galerie de la Marine, Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image, Musée Matisse, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Musée d’Art Naïf, Musée Masséna, Palais Lascaris, Musée d’Archéologie, Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle… Children and students go for free! Ready? Set? Go!

 

2. Explore the Markets

There are plenty of markets that can peak the interest of a bargain-hunter. There are flea markets in almost every town, some of them offer better quality than others. My personal favourite is the morning market in Cannes – there you can find beautiful antique books, posters and stamps for a reasonable price. Another gem is the Flower Market in Cours Saleya, Nice. It’s full of colour and gorgeous smells. A real treat for the senses!

Flower Market, Cours Saleya, Nice

3. Travel to Monaco and Eze

One of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever taken was on the corniches going from Nice to Monaco. Enjoy the incredible scenery, and visit the hillside village of Eze to get spectacular views of the torquoise sea. Head to Monaco, explore the Principality, paying a visit to the Prince’s Palace and drive around the Grand Prix circuit.

Overlooking Monaco

 

4. Discover the Alpes Maritimes

Discover the beautiful villages in the countryside like Tourettes sur Loup and Mougins. Get a feeling of bygone times, stroll trough the medieval french villages with their pretty little streets and enjoy the old facades of stones and stairs bordered with flowers. Each village offers something unique, whether it’s painters studios, artisan olive oil and tapenade production or glass blowing. It’s a great change from the beach vibes of the coast, and offers incredible photo opportunities!

4. Make a Day Trip to Villefranche and visit Villa Rotschild

Discover the french riviera by bike. Pedal through the old town of Nice towards Villefrance and marvel at the Belle Époque villas on both sides. At Villefranche, take a tour of the Old Town and discover tiny streets full of charm. Go to the 16th-century fortress, built above the sea to protect the bay from pirates and French attacks.

Later, stroll through the beautiful gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, one of the most impressive buildings on the Cote d’Azur. Its interiors are filled with artifacts and collectibles from all over the world. Its gardens are second to none (not even the Gardins Exotiques of Monaco). Arrive early or late, to be the first ones there and have the villa to yourselves. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of tarte citron at the house café.

View of Villefrance Bay

Evening Activities

1. Apèro’s or Happy Hour

There are plenty of places to enjoy aperitifs, or happy hour in the South of France without breaking the bank. In Monaco, Stars and Bars is an American Sports themed restaurant and bar, located on Port Hercule. It is a local institution that serves food around the clock and has happy hour from 5PM to 7PM. There is a big outside lounge and restaurant area that looks onto the harbor and the F1 track. Stars attracts a younger crowd, has a very cool and casual atmosphere and great music. It’s ideal for apero’s before dinner.

Other options are Cosmo Bar and Achillis in Villefranche. They have great wine lists, reasonably priced nibbles to accompany your drinks and great views. The former offers tapas for 2 EUR when you order a bottle of wine, and the latter has great music and vibes (but fills up pretty quickly so get there early!)

 

Achillis Bar, Villefrance

2. Evening Promenades

The evenings in South of France are trully magical. After the sun goes down, the air cools and the lights adorning the Alpes Maritimes and the yachts parked in the bays go on. I love taking a long walk down the Promenades des Anglais, admiring the views and eating my favourite ice cream from Fenocchio ice cream parlour.

3. Evening Picnics on the Beach

 

Beaches are public property in France, which means that you have the right to enjoy even the fanciest of beaches, without paying the notorious prices for a sunbed. Furthermore, these beaches offer incredible views and a fantastic location for an evening picnic. Grab a bottle of chilled rosé along with some snacks from a bakery, and make yourself a romantic evening pieds dans l’eau for next to nothing.

 

Remember – best things in life are for free!

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