The Côte d'Azur's sun-drenched beaches, palm-lined promenades and fantastic cuisine make it one of Europe's most sought after destinations. But the French Riviera is much more accessible than the sky-high prices of St. Tropez and Monaco would suggest.
Perhaps the most sought-after destination in all of Europe, the French Riviera is truly stunning. It can also be stunningly expensive. But when I visited in the summer of 2015, my friends and I managed to find a charming little Airbnb for only $48 per night. Split between four of us, it ended up being much cheaper than a hostel, and more convenient. Certainly this could not have been in Monaco or St. Tropez, you must be thinking. And it wasn't. But where we stayed, in Nice, is equally impressive.
What to Do
Our accommodation, in a studio above centrally located Place Garibaldi, was updated by tiny. The place was really only one room, with a kitchenette, loveseat and coffee table, and a loft overhead with a twin mattress. And four of us stayed there. In fact, there was so little space to sit that Levi and I spent most of the time sitting side-by-side in the open windowsill.
Staying in Place Garibaldi put us in an excellent position for exploring Nice, only a few blocks from the beach and right above a light rail station in the middle of the plaza. Place Garibaldi also abuts Vieux Nice, the city's cobblestoned Old Town.
Where to Stay
The French Riviera's biggest attraction of course is the gleaming Mediterranean. Unfortunately, most of the Riviera's beaches are rocky, not sanding. Consider bring a couple extra beach towels and laying them on top of one another to create a cushion. Or, as I did, spend the majority of your time enjoying the warm Mediterranean Sea. This will also protect your lungs from the smoke-filled air that still plagues many European beaches.
No trip to France can be considered complete without sampling the local food and wine scene. Nice, like any other French city, is bursting with options. Just strolling through the alleyways and winding roads of Vieux Nice, you're certain to find a ton of good options. Consider Chez Palmyre for an inexpensive and authentic French dining experience. Make sure to plan ahead. The restaurant is small and very popular.
For many, visiting the French Riviera is a far-off dream. With its reputation for glamour and luxury, some don't even consider it. But picking the right town, such as choosing Nice instead of nearby Monaco, can save you hundreds of dollars and offer a more authentic Côte d'Azur experience.