If you haven’t been to the Côte d’Azur yet, you might be worried that such a stay might be too expensive. After all, the Côte d’Azur is the El Dorado of the High Society. Who doesn’t have a yacht, an estate or a winery here! How can you afford that?
Let me explain how you can get along here without your financial cushion shrinking painfully. The most important information in advance: everything is cheaper off-season. Nevertheless, you can also spend a cheap holiday here in July / August. (Since I provide you with affiliate links (see explanation on the right), I would like to point out to you that this article contains advertising.)
That depends a little on your starting point. Let’s say you’re already in Europe. Then you can use the usual means of transport: Car, train, plane.
In France, you have to pay a toll for using the motorway. The motorway network is managed by 11 different operators, so the prices vary. On average, you pay 9 cents per kilometer. That helps us precious little now, doesn’t it? Here is a cost calculator for French tolls.
But depending on your starting point, you also have to pay a toll in other countries, be it for the use of the motorway, a toll sticker, the passage through tunnels or the crossing over passes.
So here’s an example: We take Munich as our starting point and travel by car:
Switzerland – Liechtenstein – Italy – France = approx. 85 € fees.
Austria – Italy – France = ca 90 € fees. (Source: viamichelin)
We always drive this second route and all I can say is: I don’t like it very much. These constant landscape changes make the whole thing quite exhausting. In the beginning we did the tour through Switzerland a few times because it is much shorter. But all these ups and downs through the Alps left us a bit dizzy and completely knocked out by the end of the day. Now we spend one night in Innsbruck and are still able to put one foot in front of the other in the evening. The part from Lake Garda to Milan needs strong nerves. The truck convoys are pushing ahead on the right and middle lanes and you have to be well rested to sidestep the Italians. They are not so much into keeping tracks. The French, by the way, either, so it’s good exercise. Besides, you’re on holiday and deeply relaxed, aren’t you?
The ride through the Po Valley is either long (in fog) or boring (without fog).
Fuel costs in Europe
The prices vary strongly. Switzerland is the most expensive, followed by Italy, then France and Germany, Austria is the cheapest. (Source: Clever Tanken, difference approx. 30ct/l) We always try not to have to refuel in Italy, the difference between France and Germany is not so serious.
When you choose Interrail, you buy a ticket that can be used all over Europe. You have to consider how often you want to use the train. For example, 3 days cost €220, 15 days €445. The ticket is valid for one month. It is the cheapest and most eventful way to experience Europe and its inhabitants and all those who have made it rave about it all their lives.
Coming from Paris, you should take the night train. And set the alarm for the sunrise…
The usual way to travel to South of France. Tickets Barcelona – Nice cost around €130 in July. Well, you have to pay extra for a seat reservation, a piece of luggage bigger than hand luggage, you have to come to the airport and from the airport to the lodging and then you also have to plant a tree, keyword: ecological footprint. According to atmosfair, that would be about €12 for this flight and the CO2 emissions would correspond to one-fifth of the average climate-friendly annual budget of a person. Think about it briefly before booking a flight thoughtlessly.
By Bus (WINNER!!)
Definitely the cheapest way to get to the French riviera. I found a return trip Barcelona – Nice with Flixbus for €39! (You need to add fees for seat reservation, extra luggage and the whole nine yards.) The travel time of 10 hours is ok too. Ok, the travel time dependents on the traffic, but a train also likes to strand in some station and then doesn’t move for a while. Regarding the climate, this is the method of choice anyway: train is better than airplane, but bus is better than train. Keep track of your own energy balance with an energy saving account.
You can find all kinds of accommodation on the Côte d’Azur, from camping sites to 5 star plus hotels. But today we’re talking about budget travel. That’s why I’ve researched the budget options for you. In this article I have already talked about the types of accommodation.
Motels, 3-star hotels, B&B, holiday apartments, camping
If you like to camp, you should definitely book a place in time. So assuming you want to be right by the sea. Further upcountry you can probably find a nice place at short-term. Apart from that, the accommodation depends on your preference. The man and I prefer to stay in holiday flats. There, the dog and we have some peace and quiet, we do not depend on breakfast times, only meet strangers when we are fully awake and have more space. Our dog likes to sleep in a different room. (He was housebroken from one day to the next and then moved out of the bedroom the next evening by pulling his blanket out of the door. Of course, I brought it back immediately, whereupon he pulled it out again. Ever since, he’s been sleeping in the other room. It’s also more peaceful for us, our dog is a loud bedfellow and spends half the night with cheeping, yowling, howling, growling, smacking, scratching…).
In the high season (July / August) you pay about €50 per night for 2 persons, a car, a tent and no electricity, but on a place directly at the sea side. A page for campsites is camping.info. Or you check maps.google.
I would calculate with approx. €70 – 100 per night. Whereby you can get your own house and only a few meters away from the sea for only €100. Yes really! Have a look here!
The french food
I would strongly recommend that you provide the bulk of your budget for food! Honestly! The French really celebrate their meals and spend a lot of money on it. They like to eat out with friends or cook together. And they are not stingy. Champagne, oysters, fish, lobster, crabs, mussels, wine, salami, ham, cheese platter, fruit basket, tartlets and more champagne – every meal is a celebration! And the quality is outstanding! This topic is budget travel, but I would like to point out that you miss a lot if you only buy cheap and only what you know.
A list of french supermarkets
- Hyper / Super U
- E. Leclerc
- (Géant )Casino
All these supermarkets have gigantic dimensions and offer everything you could need from car accessories to hardware stores, electronics and packaging-free food. Of course, it is nice to have everything in one place. But the regional market or the neighborhood shop should not be missed.
My favorite shop for fruit and vegetables is Grand Frais! You can’t get any fresher and more comprehensive selection of fruit, vegetables, cheese and fish anywhere else. They also have their own butcher.
But you should go to a restaurant at least once. Lunch is cheaper than dinner. A 3-course lunch menu is available for €15 – 20. You can order a caraffe d’eau, which is tap water. It is not rude to do that, you can have a coffee at the end, which will be an espresso. (Here I have explained the French coffee culture.) Eating in bistros is generally cheaper than in restaurants, if you also avoid the tourist hot spots, you will invest your money perfectly. Look what you would miss!
- The railway has special offers. For example, a day ticket is €16 for one person, each additional person (up to 8) pays €10. The price for a weekly ticket depends on the number of stations. Here you can find a very detailed article.
- Day ticket for bus & tram in Nice: €5, week ticket: €15
- Bus operators for the whole coast: lignes d’azur takes you almost everywhere.
- Blablacar – car-sharing, charged by kilometers
- rental cars
By that I mean: going out, visiting museums, shopping – doing something extraordinary that will always remind you of your holiday.
In summer, the Côte d’Azur buzzes in the evening evenings. If you have spent the day relaxing in the sun and in the sea, then you want to go out during the warm nights. It is too warm to sleep anyway. It’s too warm to sleep anyway. Festivals, open air events and concerts take place everywhere. During the film festival in May, there is an open-air cinema with film classics on the beach in the evening – free admission. Also in summer there is an open air cinema on the beach, when there is no party or festival.
There are so many museums at the Côte d’Azur as sand on the beach. Here is a list. Average admission fee to a museum is between 10 and 15 euros. Or you buy the French Riviera Pass (24h – €26 / 48h – €38 / 72 h – €56) and visit ALL museums and many other events for free. For example, you can do a GPS tour through Nice, take part in a wine tasting, go to a casino, do a bus or Segway tour – all for free with this pass. (For €12 extra, you can take even the public bus and tram for free.)
Shopping – well, that always costs money. But you can wait until the season sale, where prices will be reduced by another 30% every week. At the end of the sale you can find brand clothing, handbags, shoes… for 70% off! Sale is of course mostly after the season. The biggest one will be at the beginning of January. It’s worth it.
By the way: completely free of charge is for example hiking on the sentier littoral, enjoying nature, snorkeling in beautiful coves, road tripping along the picturesque Corniche d’Or (well, this costs fuel), reading a book (you can exchange books at many stations, mostly near village squares), going for a bike ride and just sitting by the sea and breathe, relax and unwind.
Go to a market, buy some treats, take your blanket and picnic to the beach and enjoy one of the municipal fireworks. You can attend fireworks festivals in July / August, where different countries compete against each other and perform their shows to music on the night sky. You will find the dates here.
Na dann wollen wir mal rechnen.
Example A: 1 week by bus, 2-bed room in hostel & self-catering
- Arrival Barcelona – Nice by Bus: €30
- Accommodation in a hostel: €350
- Meals for 2 persons: €35 / day = 245,-
- Means of transportation: weekly ticket train approx. €40 / person. = €80
- „Fun money“ (admission, cocktails, ice cream, eating out…): €20 / person. & day = €280
- –> Total: €1.015, so €507,50 / person
Example B: 1 week by car, middle class hotel with breakfast, meals supermarket & restaurants
- Barcelona – Nice by train: ca €110
- 3-star hotel with breakfast: ca €500
- Meals for 2 persons: €60 / day = €420
- car rental: €10 / day = €70
- Fuel costs on site (depending on your enterprising spirit), let’s say 700 kilometers: approx. €80.
- „Fun money“: €30 / person. & day = €420
- –> Total: €1.710, that means 855,- / person
I hope you lost the fear of the „cost-intensive“ Côte d’Azur and will take the adventure to come here. It’s worth it! Believe me.