Blue sky, blue sea, and palm trees — it’s easy to see why Nice is such a favorite with visitors.
But its popularity can make it expensive, especially when you consider its proximity to notoriously pricey places such as Monaco and Cannes.
However, with a bit of planning, it is possible to keep your trip on a tight budget. Follow these simple tips to enjoy a taste of the French Riviera without the big price tag.
10 Budget tips for visiting Nice, France
Looking to save a few euros on your French Riviera getaway? Here are 10 ways I saved on my trip.
1. Avoid peak season
May through August is peak season in the south of France, especially August when most of Europe is on vacation. By visiting in September, I took advantage of big savings on my airfare and accommodations but still enjoyed the gorgeous weather. It was also a lot less busy than it would have been had I visited the previous month.
Can’t make it in September? Mid-March to April is also a good time to consider a trip.
2. Book a hotel in a central location
I made life a lot easier, as well as cheaper, by picking out a budget hotel in a good location. Lou Souleou Bed and Breakfast was easy to get to using the airport bus and overlooked the picturesque Promenade des Anglais, where you can find many other budget hotel choices. It was also ideally placed for Cours Saleya and Vieux Nice. That meant that within Nice itself, I didn’t need to take public transport anywhere. I also had the bonus of discovering streets and vistas at my own pace that would have been inaccessible by public transport anyway.
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3. Make the most of the free hotel breakfast
Many hotels offer complimentary breakfast — a great way to fuel up for the day ahead. At Lou Souleou, I could pick from fresh bread, homemade crepes, fruit salad, cereals, and yogurt, with a selection of jams, coffee, and orange juice. Meaning it was a long time before I needed to think about splashing out for food again!
Related: Nice hotels under $100 per night
4. Take a free walking tour
I’m a big fan of walking tours to get your head around a place, and in Nice, I took the free tour offered by the Riveria Bar Crawl company. It was a great way of ticking off some of the sights, as well as picking up some insider tips and hints.
5. Use the markets and have a picnic
Eating out could quickly become pricey in Nice. But it’s easy to pick up food for picnics at markets and supermarkets. I enjoyed delicious fresh food from the outdoor market Cours Saleya and supplemented it with pieces from the supermarkets. These are surprisingly plentiful — there’s a large Monoprix on the main avenue Jean Medecin, for example.
What’s more is that Nice is brilliant for picnic spots — enjoy your meal on one of the famous blue chairs overlooking the beach or on the beach itself. You can also have a picnic with the picturesque views from the Parc du Chateau.
6. Enjoy Nice’s street food
Another way to refuel on a budget is to take advantage of Nice’s street food. Pissaladière — a tart/pizza topped with anchovies, olives, and onions — was a great way to fill an empty stomach. I also enjoyed socca — a chickpea flour-based pancake. You can pick up a plate for only €3 from Chez Rene Socca in the Old Town.
7. Invest in a museum pass
The region’s link to modern art was one of the reasons I wanted to visit the south of France, and destinations such as the Matisse Museum were high up on my to-do list. I made a significant saving by investing in a 7-day Musées de Nice pass for €20, allowing me access to 13 museums. With the entrance to the Matisse Museum alone costing €10, this worked out as a great value.
8. Avoid private beaches
You could enjoy Nice’s beaches from the comfort of a sun lounger, but it would cost you up to €20 a day. On the other hand, the public beaches are completely free — you just need to come prepared for the pebbles! Many hotels and hostels loan out inflatable mattresses for the beach. I also found that by taking a short train ride, I found much quieter public beaches, including the luxury of a sand beach near Antibes!
9. Explore the area by public transport
Public transport along the Côte d’Azur is a real bargain, with bus fares at a flat rate of just €1.50 within the region and train tickets not exceeding more than €10. That makes more expensive destinations such as Monaco and Cannes accessible for day trips. It also opens up lesser-visited parts of the coastline for exploration.
One of the favorite days of my trip was when I took the train to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin (€4) and walked the path along the coastline to picturesque Menton. From there, I even walked onto Italy — before taking the train back for just €9.
Related: Cheapo day trips from Nice
10. Enjoying the free entertainment!
I could have rushed around ticking off the “must-dos”, but I really enjoyed allowing myself to take in the sights and sounds of Nice itself. From the skaters, runners and street performers to the atmospheric twists and turns of Vieux Nice, there was more than plenty to soak up for free — making for a relaxing visit, as well as a cheap one!
Have you been to Nice? Tell us your favorite things to do in the comments.
Source: Euro Cheapo