Glittery Cannes film festival, the celeb-filled resorts of St-Tropez and Antibes-Juan-les-Pins...when you think of Provence & the Côte d'Azur, you hardly think budget. But don't fret - you can indulge in France's jet-set playground without breaking the bank. All it takes is a little advance planning and a few tips.

Colourful French fields in Provence ©Linhking / 500px
French fields ablaze with the colour of summer in Provence ©Linhking / 500px
  • July and August are off limits. Just don't do it (unless you fancy being stuck in traffic in the agonising heat). Instead, go in May, June, September or October – when the weather is still warm, the traffic subsides and prices drop.
  • Pretend you're living here for the week and rent a gîte (self-catering accommodation) - they range from charming villas to simple apartments. Check out Gîtes de France for the best selection of properties.
  • You came here for the food, right? Whether you rent a gîte or not, the market is your best source of local specialities - you'll find everything you need for that perfect picnic or simple dinner. Market days vary by town, but most only last until mid-afternoon - make sure you ask about the closest food market (and its schedule) when you book your accommodation.
  • If you've just gotta stay in a hotel, base yourself in Marseille or Nice. In Marseille, hit the tourist office for one of their free walking-tour maps - the best one covers Le Panier, Marseille's boho district. In Nice, hit the curvy lanes of Vieux (Old) Nice and take in the spectacular baroque architecture before going for a stroll along the famed Promenade des Anglais - come at sunset for unbeatable views of the sea and free people-watching entertainment.

Where would you rather be? Reading this article or lolling on a golden beach in the south of France? Thought so. Grab a copy of Lonely Planet's Provence & the Côte d'Azur guidebook and make it happen!

Already planning your next trip? Do it the budget-stretching way with our Travel on a shoestring resource page.

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