South of France for under 100 EUR

South of France for under 100 EUR

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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How to Travel to South of France on a Budget

How to Travel to South of France on a Budget

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.

 

Accommodation

 

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!

Dining

 

Breakfast

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.

Lunch

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?

 

Dinner

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

Desert

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

What's your favourite flavour? Mine is always lemon! 💛#cotedazurnow #icecreamheaven

A post shared by Anastasia Pashkovetskaya (@frugal_hedonist) on

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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Where the Wild Things Are Pt. 1

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Ponta Dundo – a Gem of the Indian Ocean

Ponta Dundo – a Gem of the Indian Ocean

Ponta Dundo, and its equally radiant neighbour Pansy Island, are probably the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Baking-soda-white sands, set in radiating swirls of vivid blue of the Indian Ocean. Low-hanging blue skies and a sun that you can almost touch. It’s breathtaking! But there’s more to it that meets the eye. Aside from being an exquisite location for a romantic day at the beach, or even a wedding, it is steeped in history dating back to the Iron Age.

Pansy Island

Pansy Island

 

The Bazaruto Archipelago was once part of a peninsula connected to the mainland.  At low tide, the retreating waters expose millions of sand spits and tiny isles. One of the most beautiful of these ephemeral isles is Pansy Island – named after the sea-urchin skeletons with distinctive flower-shaped imprints found there. It lies hugging the southern shores of Bazaruto Island, opposite the rolling dunes of Punto Dundo. Rumour has it that during the Portuguese era, convicts would be shackled together and left here to drown with the rising tide. Nowadays, this serves a much more pleasant purpose – a unique destination for desert-island picnic, swimming and general frolicking in the sand for guests of nearby Anantara Bazaruto and AndBeyound Benguerra lodges.

From here, against screen-saver blue skies, there are views of the imposing procession of dunes that have for epochs protected Bazaruto Archipelago from being wiped out by the might of the Indian Ocean. These 30km of deserted white beach, is what is called Punto Dundo – one of the most important historical places in the area.

 

Historical Ponta Dundo

 

From a regional archaeological point of view, Ponta Dundo is regarded as a very special place. The earliest occupation of the Bazaruto Archipelago has its signs here, and traces back to 200-300 AD. It appears that these are the only archaeological sites of this period in all the islands along the coast of South East Africa.

 

The materials and artifacts that have been found here, suggest a connection of the Bazaruto islands with other coastal communities that were settled in Vilanculos Bay during this period. The discovery of Persian porcelain at Ponta Dundo, suggest a connection with the wider Indian Ocean commercial trading network. It is probable that the Bazaruto Archipelago was one of the oldest South East African Coast commercial centres!

Map of Bazaruto Archipellago

Ponta Dundo

Walking at the top of Ponta Dundo

The valley of Ponta Dundo

Admire the views from the top of Ponta Dundo in Virtual Reality!

After admiring the breath-taking views from the top of Ponta Dundo, we came back to the shores and made our way to Pansy Island. We were given the opportunity to have the whole island to ourselves. Not another footprint in the sight, we felt like castaways in paradise. I won’t lie when I say it was incredible, but I was happy that our skipper was just a wave away!

Pansy Island Beach

Not another soul in sight

Paradise found!

Travel to Pansy Island in Virtual Reality!

Visit Ponta Dundo when you book your stay in Bazaruto Archipelago!

Booking.com

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Where the Wild Things Are Pt. 1

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read more

My Bazaruto Fairy tale

Bazaruto Archipelago   Bazaruto Archipelago is a gem of the Indian Ocean that consists of five islands; Bazaruto, Benguera, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. They lie about 20 km offshore, between Vilankulo in the south and Inhassoro in the northwest. Since 1971,...

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Benguerra and Beyond

Benguerra and Beyond

An exquisite piece of paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, &Beyond Benguerra Island is a unique beach holiday destination perfect for a romantic getaway. It is situated on the second largest island in the stunning Bazaruto Archipelago, offering some of the world’s most pristine beaches and a sense of wilderness in a sophisticated setting. It is no wonder it is frequently featured on the pages of Condé Nast Traveller and Vanity Fair.

 

AndBeyond Beach in front of the lodge

AndBeyond Benguerra Lodge

Benguerra Lodge first opened as a fishing camp some 30 years ago and slowly evolved into something approaching sophistication, yielding to the the demand of fishermen’s wives and girlfriends who objected to roughing it up in such a idyllic setting. Recently, the lodge was sold to a South African consortium, which cleverly engaged AndBeyond to create the ultimate romantic getaway. The result is a classy but unpretentious beach retreat that stands apart in the company of other resorts overburdened with cliché tokens of luxury.

AndBeyond Benguerra is laid out in a simple safari-camp configuration with a thatched main lodge fronted by a cheerful beach bar carved out of a traditional fisherman’s dhow. The resort is constructed in such a way that its guests, 32 at full capacity, feel like they are the only ones on the whole island. Each suite is hidden in the canopy of indigenous casuarina pine forest, with a private pool, an outdoor shower, and loungers offering front row seats onto the sensational sunsets over the Indian Ocean. The interiors are colonial chique and the rooms is cool and shady thanks to the wooden shutters that keep out the bouncing light of the sand and sea. It’s couples paradise.

Inside Casa Familia villa

Outside Casa Familia villa

Room service

Front row seats onto the sunset

Lunch by the plunge pool

Benguerra Activities

The lodge prides itself in its impeccable service, and staff take the time to get to know every visitor without exception. In the evening we head down to the beach where a restaurant has sprung on the water front, lit by a countless lanterns and complete with a butler for every table. We enjoy cocktails by the dhow bar and meet Erik, the activities manager. He tells us about the recent dugong sightings and anecdotes of living on the island.

The Indian Ocean here is fabulously warm and rich in marine life, with plentiful manta rays and whale sharks, schools of dolphins and loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. The Bazaruto National Park is also home to about 200 dugongs, Africa’s last sustainable population of the big grey mammals thought to have given rise to the myth of the mermaid. Here at AndBeyond Benguerra, you will have the chance to go diving and snorkeling with these majestic creatures.

Map of Bazaruto Archipellago

Dhow Bar

Playing mermaid

Sunset

Among its activities, the lodge offers ocean safaris, diving and fishing excursion, as well as horse riding and traditional dhow cruises. It is even possible to arrange a romantic castaway picnic on Ponta Dundo, one of the most historically interesting islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, with signs of occupation dating back to the beginning of the Iron Age (about 200-300 AD). But more on that later…

Ponta Dundo

 

After a day out exploring the natural beauty of Bazaruto Archipellago in the African sun, it’s a real pleasure to dissolve in the comfort of the suite. As I prepare a bath, any memories of the real world dissolve like salts. As night falls, we’re swallowed by the thick, velvety cloak of the starry sky and the incessant buzz of cicadas.

Bathtime

Book your stay on Benguerra Island.

Booking.com

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Where the Wild Things Are Pt.2

Bush Legends   The Greater Honey Guide is a small bird living in sub-Saharan Africa that is said to guide people to wild honey. The tradition advises that when the bird guides you to the bees’ nest, you must share some honey and larva with your it, otherwise next time...

read more

Where the Wild Things Are Pt. 1

Pafuri ReturnAfrica Camp   The Pafuri camp is unique in many ways. Set between the Limpopo and the Luvuvhu rivers, along South Africa’s northeastern frontier with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the concession attracts masses of wildlife. While comprising only about 1% of...

read more

My Bazaruto Fairy tale

Bazaruto Archipelago   Bazaruto Archipelago is a gem of the Indian Ocean that consists of five islands; Bazaruto, Benguera, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. They lie about 20 km offshore, between Vilankulo in the south and Inhassoro in the northwest. Since 1971,...

read more
Where the Wild Things Are Pt.2

Where the Wild Things Are Pt.2

Bush Legends

 

The Greater Honey Guide is a small bird living in sub-Saharan Africa that is said to guide people to wild honey. The tradition advises that when the bird guides you to the bees’ nest, you must share some honey and larva with your it, otherwise next time he will lead you to a black mamba. On our morning walk through the savanna, our brilliant guide Denis showered us with bush know-how and folklore on the vast number of species living on the Pafuri concession.

What fascinated me the most are the baobab trees. They can live for up to 5,000 years, reach up to 30 meters in height and up to an enormous 50 metres in circumference. They are made 80% out of water and actually shrink during drought. Baobab trees provide shelter, food and water for both animals and humans. Their bark can be turned into rope and clothing, the seeds can be used to make cosmetic oils, the leaves are edible and the fruit pulp is extraordinarily rich in nutrients. They say that when God created the world, he thought it wasn’t beautiful enough, so he made the baobab.

Fever Tree Forest

 

Another morning, we head to the Fever Tree Forest. On our way there, Denis manoeuvres around a fallen tree on the ground. “Although it would make sense to remove it and clear the road, we keep it there as it forms a microcosm for insects,” he explains. There is a great respect for the natural order of things at Pafuri safari camp. Restoring the balance of the land is a philosophy that permeates everything and everyone here.

At the forest, Denis tells us the story of how Fever Trees got their name. When the settlers arrived, they unknowingly contracted malaria, and blamed their high fever on the trees, whose bark is covered in a lime green pollen that burns lightly on the skin. He also pointed out the wild basil and explained that it can be used for cooking but also as a mosquito repellent. As the long sunbeams streamed through the Fever trees, we made our way to the nearest estuary where we had our coffee (spiked with Amarula) watching alligators going for their morning swim.

Against the Odds

 

The introduction of significant species and partnering with the Makuleke people in sustainable ecotourism marked the beginning of  restoration of ecological integrity of the Pafuri area. Unfortunately, in spite of the efforts to protect the land and its species, there are still many casualties of poaching and loss of habitat. While we were lucky to see a lion and 4 cheetahs (out of the remaining population of 9,000), their sightings are becoming less and less frequent. Even vultures are now endangered because they are eating elephant meat poisoned by poachers. Understanding the precarious destinies of these animals, made me feel even luckier to have seen them in the wild. It seems despite the collective efforts, and all the hard work being done, greed and ignorance are yet to be beaten.

 

Visit the Pafuri camp in Virtual Reality and join us on an an afternoon safari to see elephants!

Although we did not get to see any rhinos, we did hear the persistent mating call of the legendary Pel’s Fishing Owl as we enjoyed our last dinner at the camp. As night fell, the plains buzzed with nocturnal life and we retreated into the comfort of our tent, with a new sense of awe and wonder at the wild.

Yes, that is the view from our tent. You should see it real life!

Booking.com

Have you seen these?

Where the Wild Things Are Pt. 1

Pafuri ReturnAfrica Camp   The Pafuri camp is unique in many ways. Set between the Limpopo and the Luvuvhu rivers, along South Africa’s northeastern frontier with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the concession attracts masses of wildlife. While comprising only about 1% of...

read more

My Bazaruto Fairy tale

Bazaruto Archipelago   Bazaruto Archipelago is a gem of the Indian Ocean that consists of five islands; Bazaruto, Benguera, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and Bangue. They lie about 20 km offshore, between Vilankulo in the south and Inhassoro in the northwest. Since 1971,...

read more

Vilankulos – More than a Gateway to Paradise

Vilankulos - what's in a name?   Vilankulos is a costal town in the northern Mozambique province of Inhambane, sandwiched between Inhassoro, Massinga and the Indian Ocean. It was named after a local tribal chief Gamala Vilankulo Mukoke, but became known as Vilanculos...

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