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A Millennial's Guide to Cannes

Picture of Alex Ledsom
Updated: 24 May 2018
Believe it or not, Cannes, the French Riviera city which plays host every year to Hollywood’s elite, is a great place for millennials to visit on the cheap. It has an expensive reputation but it doesn’t have to empty your pockets and there’s plenty of stuff to do that doesn’t cost a thing. After all, you don’t have to pay for (some of) the beaches, the coastline or the weather. Here’s our guide to what’s possible.

What to eat

The best bet is to eat from the street or the markets. Socca, the local chickpea pancake, is filling and will only cost you a few euros. Fruit and vegetables are normally cheaper in the street markets than in the supermarkets, so head to the Marché Forville (but don’t buy pre-prepared stuff, as the price will rack up). It’s open everyday until 1pm except Mondays. Buy the white baguettes from any ‘boulangerie’ (bakery) — you’ll find one on every street corner — for no more than a euro and buy some cheese to fill it. Just like anywhere else, pre-made sandwiches are always more expensive, as is brown bread.

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Take large bottles of water everywhere you go, as it can get hot and refill them as you go. Most southern French towns have gold-coloured water fountains on some street corners which you can use (rather than the decorative fountains). They are about a foot off the ground so you might not see them unless you’re looking. The water will say ‘non potable’ if it isn’t drinkable. If you do eat out, it’s the drinks that will make the bill heavy (tap water is always free — ask for ‘une carafe’). In many places, the local rosé table wine is cheaper than coca cola (again, ask for ‘une carafe du vin’).

Getting around

Cannes is small enough to walk in the centre but if you travel out of town, use the bus. Bus stations (‘la gare routière’) don’t always tell you the cheapest ways to travel, unless you ask questions, so make sure you do. Sometimes, a book of 10 tickets can reduce the price by 30% and a return might be heavily discounted compared to two singles. These tickets nearly always need to be bought in advance at the kiosks, within opening hours (usually 9–5pm) and might require a little thought to work out what the cheapest solution is.

What to do

Cannes’ Mediterranean coastline is beautiful and doesn’t cost a penny. Head to one of the public beaches — Plage du Midi, Plage de la Bocca and Palm Beach are firm favourites with locals. They may be heaving with people in the summer, but don’t be afraid to fight for your space and head out to empty rocks if you can. Spread out your towel and you’ll have a little more privacy. (Watch locals before jumping into what you think is deep water; they’re normally a really good guide as to what’s safe, but always use your common sense. If there’s no one there in the middle of summer, there might be good reason — jelly fish or strong currents). Take picnics and save your money for ice-cream.

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When you’ve had enough of the beach, head into the countryside. Just outside Cannes, there’s an amazing national park (100 acres) — take the bus — called La Croix-des-Gardes, where you can hike and picnic. When you get back into town, check out Meetup and the tourist office site on Facebook, which will tell you about free concerts and events happening in town.

Where to stay

Your accommodation can take up most of the budget so to keep it down, you could sleep somewhere with shared rooms or a little bit further out of town; the Chanteclair starts at €34 per night or try the Hotel Les Tourrades, where you might be able to find a good deal.

Hotel Les Tourrades, Chemin de la Bastide Rouge, Cannes +33 (0)4 92 19 64 64