Visit the Cote d’Azur on a Budget

Visit the Cote d’Azur on a Budget

There is no doubt that travelling to the SoF (South of France) can be expensive. However, there are ways that you can ensure you make the most of your trip without breaking the bank. Besides, the most beautiful things in life are free – the views, the sun, friends, smiles, memories and so much more!


Airbnb has great villas if you are coming with a big family. There are some amazing estates in the wine region of Provence and villas with incredible ocean views on the coast. There are also authentic French-style apartments in the city centers of Nice, Antibes and Cannes. City apartments are also great if you don’t have a car because getting around within and between cities is possible with public transportation. Another advantage of staying in a serviced apartment is that most of them come with a kitchen. Save money by walking to the local boulangerie (bakery) or boucherie (butcher) and cook an authentic French meal at home.

There are also guest houses and youth hostels, which in French are called ‘auberges de jeunesse,’ for those who like to meet the locals or other travelers. I personally have never stayed in one of these, but I have seen them and some are in super convenient locations and have beautiful sea views.

The great thing about staying at a guest house is that you’ll get to regularly interact with a friendly host who is typically happy to give recommendations.


Eat at the Boulangerie

Boulangeries are french bakeries. They open very early and run non-stop. You will find that most restaurants here are open only for a few hours. There is no continued service because of the labour rates being so high, so if you are hungry at 11am or at 16h then you are out of luck because you will not find anything open…except the boulangeries.

Boulangeries have baguettes (incredibly delicious in France) for 1 euro, croissants, pains au chocolat, pains aux raisins and other typical pastries and sandwiches like the popular ‘pan bagnat,’ which is a local specialty that you will find for less than 5 euros in most places.

Skip the expensive hotel breakfasts (which down here range from 15-25 euros per person!) and eat a local french bakery breakfast. Trust me – you will enjoy it more than the overpriced and boring ‘continental breakfast.’

Lunch Specials / Plats du jour

Most restaurants have lunch specials for around 12-16 euros. The difference in price between lunch and dinner at the same restaurant can be almost double! Dinners are very pricey, but you can enjoy the same quality of food, views and service from any restaurant at lunch. Some places don’t advertise the ‘plat du jour’ on the menu – it is usually written on a chalkboard or narrated by the waiter (if you ask), so make sure to always ask. The lunch usually includes an appetizer, main dish, dessert and a glass of wine.

Carafe d’eau s’il vous plaît!

By law in France no one can deny you water. When you go to a restaurant you can ask for a water pitcher for free. Normal water bottles range from 5-8 euros, so you can really save a lot by asking for a water pitcher. When you simply ask for water, most places will immediately bring you an expensive San Pellegrino or Evian (I paid 25 euros for water once!), so make sure to ask specifically for the water pitcher beforehand.


Wine grapes are grown locally here, so enjoy the Rose as much as you want without breaking your budget. Usually the most expensive part of the restaurant bill is the wine. However, most restaurants have ‘house wine’ or wine pitchers that are usually not advertised on the menu. Always ask for the house wine ‘carafe’ specials. At some places you can have a glass of wine for 3 euros (cheaper than a bottle of water!)

You can also skip the restaurant and just go to a supermarket, where you will find good local wine at very low prices. Buy a bottle of wine and have a picnic by the beach, complete with goodies you bought at the local market. Doesn’t that sound like a dream? Well, it is!

Since we are in the area of Provence that produces rose wine, you can find amazing wines for a really good price. There are a lot of wineries around where you can buy wine directly. They also sell it in a canister.


Food markets down here are amazing! They are an experience on their own as you can sample the local smells and flavors. One of my favorite things to do is to buy a baguette at a boulangerie, then go to a local market and buy fresh tomatoes, local cheese and olives and then savor the natural flavors. Not only is this the most economical meal you will find, it is also a beautiful experience. There are also many ‘Halles’ food markets, and they are open early so you can skip the expensive hotel breakfast and go local!

Monaco – there is an indoor food market in Place d’Armes in La Condamine that most people don’t know about, but it has delicious food stands with local food – you’ll find socca (a local dish from Nice), a kiosk that serves everything with truffles, fresh italian pasta, and one of the best sushi places in Monaco (the owners are japanese and have won many awards!) One of my favorite stands is the fresh seafood stand with local fishermen selling oysters, shrimp, etc and serving it to you in a cute way. We usually buy a bottle of wine from the supermarket next door and sit by the market to eat our fresh oysters.

Outside in that same area of Place d’Armes, there is also a daily fruit and flower market from 6am to 2pm.

Nice – Located in Cours Saleya in the old town (vieux Nice), there is a really nice flower market called ‘Marché des Fleurs.’ It is open from 6am to 1pm every day. In the summer months they also have the ‘Marché d’Artisanat Festival Nocturne.’ The market is open at night and sells local handcrafts.

Antibes – In the center of Antibes is one of my favorite markets. It sells delicious olives, cheese, lavender, and unique local specialties. I love grabbing a few goodies and having a picnic by a hidden beach called ‘Plage de la Gravette.’

San Remo: This is an Italian market that sells clothes, leather goods, bags, shoes and so on, at a very decent price for authentic Italian quality. They also have an indoor market where we usually buy our olive oil, parmigiano cheese, san daniele ham and other italian delicacies. It is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8am to 1pm.


You can get to most places by train while enjoying breathtaking views (make sure you sit next to the window!)

Renting a car gives you great flexibility to go wherever you want. I would recommend you book it at Nice Airport as the local rental cars tend to have higher prices. Simply driving around the SoF is an attraction in and of itself. Always opt to take the ‘bord de mer’ road, which is the one that goes along the coast so you can enjoy the amazing views. Driving in the South of France always makes me feel like I am in a movie.

My advice would be to stay away from the city centers altogether because there are so many charming medieval places away from the touristic cities. If you have a car, you can typically save a lot by staying at least ten kilometers away from large cities in cute little villages.

For example, instead of staying in the center of St Tropez, you can stay in Ramatuelle or in Cogolin. Instead of staying in Cannes or Antibes, you can stay in Mougins, Grasse, or St Paul de Vence. And instead of staying in Nice or Monaco, you can stay in Eze, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, or Villefranche-sur-Mer.


Avoid peak season (June-August), when hotel prices skyrocket (and even some restaurants have more expensive ‘summer menus’) Visiting in March would be much cheaper than visiting in August for example. The winter down here is beautiful, usually sunny and mild. In the spring it rains a lot. My favorite month is definitely September because the weather is still like summer, but the summer season (and prices) are over.

It’s important to note that August is the main French vacation month, so it’s best to avoid traveling during this time as many restaurants and shops will be closed.  This is also still peak season, so accommodation prices will be higher and you’ll be competing with French tourists for the best places to go!


The biggest advantage of the SoF is that there are a lot of things to do for free! The weather is fantastic for most of the year, so you can simply stroll through ancient towns, go to the beach, or go sightseeing without having to spend anything on local attractions.


My favorite place to go for a walk is the Sentier de Cap D’ail, you can walk from Plage Marquet to Plage Mala. Another favorite one is the stroll in Cap Ferrat which has breathtaking views and amazing villas. Of course the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice is a beautiful path to enjoy before the sun goes down.

Visit my other blog posts on the best beaches in the Cote d’Azur, my Cote d’Azur travel guide, and a Monaco travel guide.


If you’re under 26 and a student, I highly recommend bringing your student identification with you as you will get into many French museums for free or at a reduced rate. Similarly, those under 18 typically get into museums for free. Seniors (65+) often get a discount on tickets to attractions. Be sure to bring identification with you as it might help!


Tips for attending The Boot, Düsseldorf Boat show

Tips for attending The Boot, Düsseldorf Boat show

Photo: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann)

It is the biggest indoor show in the world! It is amazing how they manage to
put inside such big yachts and sailing boats inside the building. Check out this
video out on how they assemble it all and the logistics to prepare for the

There are 2,000 exhibitor stands, and every year they get 250,000 visitors ! Half of the visitors are German but there are also people coming from all over the world.

What to Pack

The show is in January hence it is winter in Germany with temperatures
ranging between -2C to 8C.  Therefore it is recommended to wear something warm. Don’t worry
you wont be carrying your jacket around, you can check your winter jacket at
the cloak room inside the show. Don’t pack your sunglasses, as you won’t be
needing those there 🙂 Dusseldorf is often foggy and wet. However you can
pack your swimsuit
, as there is a big wet area for testing all sort of
water toys. There is a big wave are where you can learn how to surf and try
your balancing skills.

There is also a huge Olympic pool where you can do wake boarding, paddle
board, SUP competitions and more.

Since the boot is so big, you would need to walk a lot hence comfortable
shoes (no high heels) are advised.

For a full check list on what to pack before you travel to make sure you don’t
forget anything, check the ultimate packing list here.

Where to stay

A very popular hotel where many people stay is The Hyatt
in the city center. Located in the Harbour it has stunning views and
close by to nice restaurants.

If you are looking for a business hotel something not too fancy and yet
close by the Messe where the boot is located, you find the Mercury Dusseldorf

The show also has its own recommendations and sometimes has nice packages including transport and tickets.

Location/ Getting there

It is located at the Messe which is located about 15 minutes’ drive from the city
center. You can also take the tram to get there. However Public transport in
Dusseldorf is known for being not ideal, it sometimes take long waiting times
(and remember that is January hence is cold outside!)

There are no ubers in Germany, they work through the taxi system (hence it’s
the same price) on the bright side, the tram is very economical and takes you directly to the Messe Arena.

From the airport to the city center driving or by taxi takes about 6
minutes and the rate is 20 euros.

From the city center (which they call Altstadt) tothe Messe driving or by taxi takes about 15 minutes.

On your GPS you can put: Messe Düsseldorf


You should check on the map online for the various entrances, this place is
HUGE and going from one entrance to another can take you 20 minute walk, so it
is advised to know which entrance you are heading to.

Don’t pre- stress or panic, at the entrance you have registration kiosks
with a lot of helpful people which will help you get registered with an
entrance ticket.

Map of the show here. 


The best is to buy them online as they are cheaper than buying it at the
entrance. The day pass cost around 19 euros ( is a bargain compared at 200 euros for the Monaco Yacht show!)  and if you buy them at the entrance is 25 euros.

Yacht buyer visitor

If you are going there with a specific brand of boat you would like to buy
(for example a Sunseeker) you can also contact the brand directly to set up an
appointment and they would provide you with free visitor voucher passes.

Boating for Beginners

If you are new in boating, dont panic! at the boot they will show you the ropes and everything you need to know, their message is ‘

Your dream of watersports does not have to be a leap into cold water: Our independent experts in the new start areas start boating (Hall 3) and start sailing (Hall 15) gladly provide practical tips and advice to all those interested in boating. From boating licenses to chartering yachts and suitable equipment, all your questions will be answered competently here. For free, of course! And in the other areas, too, beginners will find help from experts and countless opportunities to try out various watersports activities for themselves ‘

Learn how to sail, surf, dive, get a boating licence, everything FOR FREE!


The show is divided in various halls, divided into categories. Depending on
your interest you can pre-plan your visit. There are 2,000 exhibitor stands, so you can imagine the amount of people and the size of the show!

In total there are 17 halls but these are the main ones:

Sailing Center

Motor Boating

Super Yacht Word

Diving area

Sport fishing Center

Yacht Equipment

Travel World

Beach World

World of Paddling  (is that even a thing?)

Where else can you test canoes and kayaks in a trade fair
hall and try out the latest water toys equipment?

Moving around the show

There are internal shuttles that take you from one Hall to another, they are
called circle line. You can find them outside of the halls turning around.

Going on board a yacht

If you are doing a yacht visit, remember to check the ‘yachting etiquette
 so you know the do’s and the don’t while going on board a boat.

Buying a boat

Some brands make special boat show discounted specials, so make sure to ask
for them! Usually the ones they have on diplay or in stock are the ones going
for a deal.

Where to eat inside the show

There are a number of kiosk, small bistros and snack bars inside the convention center.

Fine dining in the city


it is considered to be ‘the best Italian restaurant in Dusseldorf’. I went
there for dinner and I must say the food was very authentic and the wine was
fantastic. It is also a wine bar with a big wine selection. The waiters and the
chef are all Italian, when you walk in they greet you ‘Buona Sera’ and have the
authentic italian warm welcome.

Rocca 800C

It is a famous steakhouse which cooks meet in a unique and special way at
800 degrees C. The high temperature causes the fat on the outside of the steak
to caramelize, creating an incredibly tasty but dark crust and yet juicy
inside. They have the best cuts from Argentina, Uruguay, USA and more.

The Grill

Located in the main street of the city, this steakhouse is well known for its meat, service and ambience.


Yachting Etiquette

Yachting Etiquette

The Do’s and Don’ts onboard a yacht

Tips on how to behave if you are invited as a guest onboard a yacht

Go barefoot

Deck shoes may be worn, but most guest prefer to go bare feet. Ladies please NO HIGH HEELS, not even if you are invited to a party onboard! Remember this rule before you choose your outfit accordingly! (and get a pedicure)

Boys, make sure your socks don’t have holes in them, else you will be getting all the looks (and not the right ones)

Teak is a precious material and it is very hard to find and very expensive to maintain, having shoes, heels (or red wine stains) are every yacht owners nightmare.

If you have a cut or injury in your feet make sure you inform the crew. I’ve seen some blood stains on white carpet that cause more pain to the owner and crew than for the injured guest onboard.

You can take non slip non marking shoes with you if you are staying on board and do not want to go barefoot, just tmake sure to check with the first mate or captain upon arrival if your shoes are approved.

One at a time

When you are going on the Passarelle, make sure it is only one person going at a time. If there is someone stepping out of the boat, they have the priority so let them get down first before you board. it is very dangerous to have 2,3 people walking on the passarelle at the same time.

Greet the crew

You will be more respected if you have the courtesy to greet the crew, ask for their names, shake their hands and show some respect for the captain on board.

No Touching

There are some valuable art pieces on board, interior design materials, etc can be very delicate! If you are visiting a boat, please keep your hands to yourself! Do not start touching everything that sparks!

Also there are some precious metals or simply stainless steel which once you touch it your finger prints get impressed there and it is a nightmare for the crew to keep it shiny every minute.

Not your bed

If it is not your bed, please refrain from sitting on it, lying on it, or taking pictures. Wait until your guest cabin has been assigned to you.

Keep your glass to yourself

If you are holding a beverage, be mindful of out, don’t leave it on top of the interior furniture for example.

Also it is very dangerous if you place a wine glass for example on the hand rail, it can fall into the deck below or even worst in the neighbor boat and could hurt somebody.

No Red wine available

Most yacht do not offer red wine on board, specially during parties in the port. Red wine stains do not come off the floor teak, and it is simply not worth the risk.

Toilet use

If its the first time you are on the boat and you don’t know how to use the toilets (marine toilets are different from house toilets) it is better that you ask a stewardess on board how to use it. Dont be shy, she will be happy to explain it, as this is preferable than having to unplug a toilet while having guests onboard.

Smoking on board

Most cases smoking is not permitted inside the yacht for safety reasons. Many yachts operate a policy of smoking permitted on deck only, however please checkt he policiy as each yacht varies on their approach regarding smoking.

Fake tan = disaster

Some girls like to spray some self tanning bronzer on their legs or put some tanning cream before going on a boat. The residues of these are left on all sofas, lounging beds, chairs and sun beds on board. Avoid the embarrassment of leaving your leg mark behind.

Soft lugagge

It is advised to pack your personal items in a soft luggage bag, as this makes it easier to store it onboard. Hard case luggage are sometimes quite a challenge to store and takes a lot of space.


Usually no pets are allowed on board unless previously agreed and permitted by the Owner. Although I must say dogs are an enjoyment on board! However you need to arrange shore stops for dogs them to go do their thing.


Cruising distances will vary according to the itinerary, the best is to do 6 hours or less per day and be flexible about it.


You can cruise ONLY if weather permits. The captains main job is your safety, therefore please respect his decision. I’ve seen some instances where the guests get upset if they can’t cruise, but there is a crucial reason for it, therefore the captains decisions over rules the guests decision on this every time.

Respect the captain’s authority at all times, his job is to keep you safe.

Guest Cabins

If you are a guest on a yacht, wait to be assigned a room before you go and settle down in a guest cabin.


Most yachts can do small quantities of personal laundry, done by the yachts crew as a service. Please note that these terms also allow the crew to refuse politely to do excessive quantities of laundry on board or to handle delicate items. It may be possible to have certain laundry done ashore professionals if time allows it. These costs will be clearly deducted from the APA.

Volumen Maestro!

If you are on anchor, please, by my guest and jam it up!

However if you are inside a port, please be mindful of your neighbors and keep the music civil after midnight.


Gratuity is expected if your charter has been everything you hoped for, it is a mean of appreciation to the crew. Most gratuities are customary, and left at the clients discretion. However to give you an idea, normally they are between 10-20% of the charter cost. The tips will be split equally between the crew depending on the level of service.

Wave runners

in some areas they are restricted, forbidden or require a license based on local operating regulations.


Don’t be that guy! the one that will never get invited on board again! Click to the article here.