Don’t Get Burnt in Nice Budget Travel Tips
Nice airport has recently been voted the most beautiful aerial approach in the world, by Private Fly.
For people living in the Alpes-Maritimes it remains a thrill, as you approach from the West along the Var or East past Monaco, before landing on the sea (well that is how it feels!) at the Nice airport — perfectly located on the Western side of the Baie des Anges.
Visitors to this beautiful part of the world should, however, not fear that their wallets will take an immediate hammering as soon as they step out of the airport. If you are not pushed for time, you can enjoy the wealth of this fantastic part of the France – on the Eastern stretch of Provence, for the price of a song or at least a short recital.
Taxi drivers may swarm like flies around the airport departure gates, but smile, and walk on to the Promenade des Anglais from Terminal 1, and you will find a bus that will whizz you along the “Prom” for the princely sum of just a few euros (details here). Grab a free map in the terminal airport, and then navigation in Nice is straightforward, as you see the sweep of the bay in front of you.
This superb value transport system allows you to take the picturesque bus run to Monaco, or up to the Mercantour National Park for skiing or an exceptional natural experience (you can read more details on the park here). You are also able to enjoy the fun of the recently completed tram system – a sightseeing tour on tap. Don’t forget to stamp your ticket as you get on the bus.
The more energetic can hire a Vélo Bleu – for a snip and have a relaxed cycle ride along the flat coast. This is also a useful tip if you want to get to an event along the coast, when the road traffic may be bad, the Bastille Day fireworks in Cagnes-sur-Mer being a case in point.
There are also cute little electric cars for hire – Auto Bleue.
You could do worse than stay in the Saint Exupéry Hostel in the middle of town or select a hotel online with the myriad of online bookings sites – often Airbnb turns up some gems if you are patient. Do check out the reviews on Trip Advisor to make sure you have not chosen a “dog”, there are also campsites along the coast for value stays. In Menton, for example, there is Camping Saint Michel – with a good restaurant on site.
It’s not all about Michelin Star restaurants. If you have somewhere to stay with a kitchenette, stock up on wine (the central Monoprix in Jean Médecin is good) and food in the Flower Market where you can get some fresh and tasty bargains from local small producers. If you are on a budget, there’s a wealth of stalls and kiosks to “fill your boots” with socca, or kebabs or pizza. If your budget is more flexible, head away from the central zone, and ask for local advice from your hosts – the Nice scene is fast-moving for culinary delights! Try menus at lunchtime for the best deals.
Take a food tour (and other ideas for the Riviera) in this article.
Things to do
Much of Nice is the delight of getting around on footwear comfy shoes. With a guidebook, it is very easy to enjoy the architecture and the buzz without spending a penny. Chill out over a coffee or a pression and watch the world go by. In 2014/2015, the new Promenade du Paillon is the place to be seen with museums/attractions such as the Asian Arts and Parc Phoenix are free entry or €2 per person!
Events come thick and fast on the Riviera so for a few euros – you can enjoy the Nice Carnaval, the Menton Lemon Festival, the Cannes Film Festival (go to the Palais des Festivals and ask for free viewing tickets), the Christmas markets, the free concerts throughout the Alpes-Maritimes throughout the summer some of the events can be found – on local holiday company, Spacebetween’s website.
Riviera Residents – do you have any travel tips to add to this “Nice on a budget” list?
Image Credits: Lindsey Sinclair-Noble for Velo Bleu and Promenade du Paillon photos
I have one: Since January 1st, there are no more free museums in Nice. But a little-known money-saving tip is that the first Sunday of each month is free at the Chagall Museum in Nice, the Museum of Asiatic Art (also in Nice), the Picasso Museum in Antibes, and the Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton.
Best of Nice Blog
Thanks Allison for the museum info in #Nice – good to know for readers who are planning a visit.
A “nice” thing to do is pack a picnic and take the bus 100 (direction Monaco) to Mt Boron, Nice and walk up to the forest in Mt Boron. The views are beautiful and the air is cool and clean.
For a real ‘bargain lunch’ Brioche dorée (a bit like a less trendy, slow service Pret à manager sandwich chain) does a sandwich, water, dessert and coffee/tea for €8. Ask for ‘le menu’ as your tray is pushed along the queue cantine style.
For the museums in Nice, it’s true they have started charging but if you are staying with a local, ask to borrow their ‘Pass Musée” – locals are entitled to free entry pass!
Hi Rebecca: Thanks for the great tips on views and picnics that will not break the bank on the Cote d’Azur.