Nestled on the Riviera, Nice is one of France’s most glamorous cities, so doing it on a budget isn’t easy - but it’s not impossible either! Nice is not just a haunt of the rich and famous - it is also frequented by thousands of students and backpackers every year.
A stroll along the Promenade des Anglais to take in the elegant hotels, shops, and restaurants lining the Baie des Anges certainly won’t cost anything. But if you’re looking for value when it comes to somewhere to stay, then it’s best to look beyond the shorefront. Hôtel Paradis
is just a couple of minutes walk from the beach and the city centre. The Villa Saint Exupery Gardens
on Avenue Gravier is further out, but it offers a quieter spot away from noise of the city and has free shuttles for getting into town. Alternatively, hire a car at the railway station and you can avail of free parking at the hostel. A little more upmarket, but still in the affordable bracket, is the Odyssée Guesthouse at 26 chemin de la Gruerie. Just ten minutes from the sea, these apartments are set in a huge garden with fruit trees and access to a pool.
What to See
Nice happens to be one of France’s oldest cities, so there’s quite a bit of architecture to take in. While you’re strolling round, don’t forget to visit the Musée des Beaux Arts
with its extensive collection of 19th- and 20th-century art, and, of course, Place Masséna, with its old fountains and gardens. Fort Mont Alban, a fortification on the hills east of Nice is worth the trek for the views across the city and the lower alps.
Where to Eat
Eating out cheaply in Nice is, without doubt, a challenge. Make sure when you eat out that you ask for a ‘carafe d’eau’ for free tap water. Bottled water can be very pricey. When it comes to wine, ask for a ‘pichet’, or ‘demi-pichet’ to sample the house wine. Few restaurants make the mistake of selling poor house wine. Set menus, often called ‘le formule’ are the best way to keep costs down when ordering. In the old town, try Lou Pila Leva on 10 rue de Collet, or Renee Socca on rue Miralheti; both are old style self-service eateries. Bar de al Bourse
and Chez Plamyre
are good value if you want to be served. However, for real budget eating, simply sit down at one of the many places that are little more than a kiosk and a scattering of tables, where you can have a pan bagnat (a nicoise salad in a loaf) for just a few euro.
might be a relatively quiet place to have lunch during the day, but in the evening it transforms into a raucous music bar with reasonably priced drinks. You’ll find it and many similar bars on avenue Massena. Those who like their music heavier should make a beeline for Snake Pit on rue Bonaparte, a rock and metal bar that’s divided into two areas, one with a screen for videos and one with a DJ. Of course, for live entertainment, the best time to visit Nice is during the annual jazz festival
in July when there are plenty of free events happening around town, proving that Nice is one of France’s true hotspots - and not just because of the sun!