ANTIBES, COTE d’AZUR: 5 WAYS TO PIMP IT ON A BUDGET
Ahh, the Cote d’Azur. The land of chic seaside towns, fine food and even finer wine, and more millionaires than you can throw a yacht at.
The playground of the rich, famous and tanned, that’s just the place to private jet to when you’ve made another cheeky mill on the stock market.
And, as I discovered during a trip to Antibes in October, just the place to escape to when you’re unemployed and wiping the bottom of the Doritos bag for crumbs because you’re not quite sure when the next paycheck will arrive. Because the French Riviera is also the land where you can fake it till you make it.
Say NO to expensive hotels and YES to AirBnB
So. You don’t own one of the megayachts squished into the port d’Antibes. You’re not tight with any of the gazillionaires hiding out in ritzy mansions on the Cap d’Antibes. You don’t even have two grand to blow on a room at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc.
Oh the shame of it.
But fret not, AirBnB is here. We used them to nab a fantastic modern apartment, right in the centre of Vieil Antibes (the old town) and a three-minute walk from the beach.
It was the perfect mélange of ancient stone walls, minimalist décor and great Wi-Fi, so we didn’t even have to waste euros ordering unwanted espressos to save embarrassment in Wi-Fi cafes.
Decide that yachts are so 2013
2014 is all about the runabout, people. Yachts are just so… OTT, non?
If you’re cool, you’ll be moseying down to the Port d’Antibes, slapping $100 on the hire counter and pointing to the eight-foot runabout with the torn sunshade and five horsepower engine. You’ll have that one, merci.
You’ll putter nimbly past sheer sandstone cliffs topped with lush green pines as you explore the Cap.
You’ll discover hidden coves where you’ll stop for a dip in the sparkling waters. And you’ll thank your lucky stars, as you watch Brangelina get papped mercilessly diving off their superyacht, that you chose the more subtle approach.
Go to the most expensive hotel… and order the cheapest drink
If you want to pretend you’re properly loaded, you must go to the Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc, the grandest of the grand old hotels on the Riviera. It’s more palace than hotel, really, surrounded by lush 22-acre gardens, positioned right on the peninsula and with rooms that cost upwards of $750.
I’m not suggesting you stay here. Hell no. I’m suggesting you have a sunset drink here in their stunning all-white lounge bar with 180-degree views across the Med.
A single sunset drink, mind you, and the cheapest one on the menu – a Corona for $17.
It’ll be worth every penny though, not only because you’ll get to see who’s lazing by the infinity pool (Madonna, Mick and Johnny are all regulars), but also because even the cheapest drink comes with superior snacks, gratuit.
That’s French for free.
Hire a scooter
Ours was called Orbit. We found him at eGoRent for $60 a day and by golly did he make the wind whip through our hair.
Orbit also helped us discover the poshest beach in town, Plage de la Garoupe. This cove, immortalized in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, is where we happily blew $80 hiring day beds on the pontoon, safe in the knowledge that we’d saved far more than that by hiring Orbit over a convertible Aston Martin.
Remember: picnics are your friend
One of the highlights of Antibes is its daily covered market. Head there to load up on olive tapenade, crunchy French bread, juicy nectarines and a $6 bottle of wine, then hop on your scooter and find a beach.
NB: the best ones are hidden better than an heiresses nose job, so splash out on a map to help you unearth them.
Once you do, your afternoon will melt away in a haze of azure waters, gentle sunshine and rosé that’s so delightful you won’t even notice how painful the pebbles you’re lying on are.
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