Before hopping on a train to the south of France, I was in Paris for a week. Although I’ve now visited several times, a week was the longest I’d spent in my favorite city on earth. I have to admit that there were a few days where I thought I’d go broke because…Paris is expensive! I didn’t have kitchen access so eating out for every meal was quickly draining my pockets. It made me wonder if tackling Nice on a budget was even possible. Spoiler alert: IT IS.
How I got to Nice
When I was originally coming up with a tentative itinerary for this trip, I had purchased a flight from Paris to Nice. Within 24 hours that flight was cancelled because a train ride (first class, mind you) was the same price. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why catch the train when you can fly in a fraction of the time? Well I’ll break it down. If I flew from Paris I’d need to take an hour long ride to the airport, get there two hours early, take a two hour flight, and then get from the airport in Nice to my airbnb. And don’t get me started on how much the train to the airport costs. That’s already 5 hours. On the flip side, I could take a comfortable 5.5 hour train ride and walk on over to my airbnb. That’s what I did. And that train ride cost me 53€.
Where I Stayed
I’m reporting to you live from my studette, just minutes from the Nice Ville train station. That was nice to find out when I was on the train seeing if I could walk the distance versus figure out if I needed to hop on a bus. Even nicer was hunting for a grocery store on my first day checking in and stumbling upon the sea. Like the actual sea. THE SEA, Y’ALL!
I have a tiny balcony that I don’t go out on because it’s not warm enough, but the fresh air is lovely. I even have a whole kitchen setup, albeit cramped and just one burner for cooking. I mean, do I have to leave the apartment to use the toilet? Sure. But the shower’s in here. You can’t have everything. This airbnb for 3 weeks ran me $570 and for the south of France, I think it’s a steal.
Nice on a Budget – FOOD
I felt hard pressed to find a meal in Paris for less than 15€. Even the “breakfasts” consisting of a croissant or baguette, juice, and a hot drink were 8€+. I purposely ate twice a day just to save money because I didn’t want to keep fruits and snacks in my hostel room. So I wasn’t too surprised when I got to Nice and restaurant prices were about the same. You may find a few gems with a meal or two slightly under 15€, but if you’re on the hunt for a bargain, it may be hard to find.
I do this thing where I compile receipts from my grocery store runs so I can share with you the price of basic things. I can’t tell you how happy I (and my bank account) was that I had the chance to cook. Here’s a quick run down of common items:
1€ = $1.24
Cheap Delicious Wine: 4-5€
5L Water: 0.91€ (yes, you read that right)
Baguette: 0.75€ (sometimes more, sometimes less)
Basmati Rice (500g): 1.17€
1L Milk: 1.55€
Frosted Flakes (400g): 3.41€
Frozen Paella: 4.95€
3 Pears: 2.05€
3 Bananas: 0.78€
Ginger: 7.90€/kg (I paid 1.85€ for a huge piece)
Bag of Mesclun: 1.95€
Chicken Breast: 2€ (sometimes one breast is packaged at a discount)
Cup of Shaved Parmesan 80g: 3.25€
Now because I have just one burner to cook with, even making rice and then sautéing veggies afterwards is a semi-nuisance. I tried my best to keep my meals simple and to a minimum. So I wasn’t playing Chef Mo in the house, and you can tell by my shopping habits (not all listed here). However, I will say that grocery store prices aren’t horrendous. Definitely not Malta, but I also won’t have to file bankruptcy after grocery shopping.
To be honest, I’ve yet to catch the bus around Nice because I’m in a central enough location to tackle other neighborhoods and areas by foot. However, the buses seem to be the main mode of transport. When visiting other cities I hope on the train at Nice Ville and have paid as little as 4.10€ to go to Monte Carlo, Monaco (one way) and as much as 7.20€ to go one way to Cannes. And those tickets were bought the day of travel.
Having been to expensive countries such as Denmark and Iceland, Nice is so low on the list of “expensive” places that I wouldn’t even put it in the same category. So the final verdict: Nice on a budget is more than possible.
Have you visited Nice before? Were you on a budget or could you splurge?