South of France on the Cheap? Yes you Cannes!

south of france

Cannes, in the South of France has been the playground of the rich and famous for decades. Home to the famed film festival and boondoggles like Cannes Lions, it’s the port of choice for billionaires and their yachts. But can we, the great unwashed masses, enjoy the city? Yes, we Cannes! (Top photo by Julian Sanine).

south of France
Photo: Stefan Jurca.

Where to Stay: The secret to Cannes is, while hotels on the Croisette will clean your wallet shamelessly (The Carlton charged me $100 for five beers — not kidding) and snub their nose at you for the pleasure, there are bigger better, chicer (and most importantly WAY cheaper) apartments to be had just meters away via Airbnb. Recently, during the Cannes Lions advertising festival, half the crowd skipped the high-priced hotels and headed to the rental site to stay in gorgeous apartment like this two bedroom, two bathroom place, located just 100 meters from the beach scene.

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south of france
Photo: Tim Gage.

Where to Eat: In the mornings head to the Marche Forville, aka the “Belly of Cannes,” for some of the best fresh produce you will ever eat. I’m not kidding — it ruined me for NYC produce. Pick up some prosciutto, cheese, baguettes, fruit … and voila! You have a tasty breakfast and prep for a lunch picnic. To carry everything, stop by the shops on the north side of the market and pick up one of the straw baskets with leather handles, which sell for 14 euros ($19), as opposed to $200 in NYC shops. It doubles as a super-chic carry-on bag for the flight home.

In the evening, head to Fred L’écallier (aka “Fred’s) for langoustines, bouillabaisse, octopus, and the catch of the day. I got the red snapper in a salt crust, which I still dream about.

Another option is La Table du Chef, a tiny, friendly restaurant that has no menu because the daily meal is based on what was found in the Marche Forville that day. A four-course meal will set you back 41 euros ($55), which is one of the best bets in the city.

Where to Drink: Splurge on drinks at Le 360 bar atop the Radisson Blu hotel at the end of the pier at the old town. The location and the height give you the perfect vantage point to view the city while you sip a cocktail.

For just some laid-back drinking, take the roads from the beach and walk into the old town for a bevy of outside cafes, which will happily serve you a glass of rose for half the price of the beachside hotels.

south of France
Photo: Chris Spark.

Pro Tip: Once you’ve explored and experienced Cannes – take a road trip to the small towns nearby like Frejus, Var, which is filled with Roman ruins, Biot or Grasse. All are just as beautiful, but way cheapr than Cannes. Grab lunch at the open air markets, sleep in a small inn or bed and breakfast and enjoy dinners with spectacular views at multiple restaurants.

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