The Cote d'Azur is favoured by people with private jets, superyachts and Prada-sized pockets. But you don't need to have fancy pants to enjoy yourself in Nice and Monaco, writes Kate Ford.
Stroll through a Nice market
Visiting a market in a new city is never a bad idea. Even if you aren't browsing with intention to buy, you can really soak up the spirit of the city you're in. Nice is full of markets, from fish to flowers to flea.
My favourite is the Cours Saleya. Each morning you can cruise the market aisles in the Old Town and get a visual taste of the region. The stalls are plump with soap, vegetables,
cheese, arts and crafts — a seemingly infinite number of fragrant and beautiful delights.
On Mondays the space becomes a Brocante, or flea market, and is filled with bric-a-brac and antiques. Search through the miscellany, admire the costume jewellery and imagine how great all the silverware would look in your home. This is a truly romantic market for a stroll.
Walk around Monaco's Old Town
To escape the glaringly expensive yachts or the string of supercars, immerse yourself in the traditional glamour of Monaco's Old Town.
Walk up the 16th-century stairs (or take the lift up) to the Palace Square. Each day the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at 11.55am, outside the palace doors.
Take your time walking around the Old Town perimeter to find numerous lookout spots with ocean and city views and plenty of old homes that make you wonder what kind of job is required to be a resident of Vieux Monaco.
Gaze out at the Mediterranean from Nice
There are plenty of great lookout spots in Nice where you can stop to pinch yourself.
Sit on the chairs that line the beachfront of Promenade des Anglais for an uninhibited view of the Med's expansive blue hues. Summer crowds make it hard to procure a spot but if you visit during the shoulder season you can park up for the day and still feel the sun's warmth. Continue walking towards the port to find Montee Lesage, an extraordinary vantage point. Climb the flights of stairs to be rewarded with wide views of the ocean and Nice's Old Town.
Catch the Nice-Monaco bus
Possibly the best €1.50 you will ever spend, the 45-minute bus ride from Nice to Monaco is a journey of beauty.
During weekdays the bus departs near the port of Nice every 15 minutes from 5.30am to 8.30pm. It takes you on a picturesque drive through seaside towns like Villefranche and Beaulieu.
Eat like a prince, pay like a pauper in Monaco
If you have a supremely tight budget — as we did — you can satisfy your hunger with simple pleasures. Next to the supermarket on the main strip you can buy a very affordable slice of tasty pizza. Take it with you to eat either in front of the sea, or to a park bench from where you can watch dog-walkers and admire the old buildings.
If your budget extends a bit further, walk to Monte Carlo's Metropole Mall and eat at one of the affordable restaurants there. Common mall food court it is not, but you'll find more affordable dishes than at the glitzy restaurants on the strip.
Indulge in a glass of wine in Nice
There's nothing like a bit of good old-fashioned people watching — especially when you're in the French Riviera.
A great spot for this is at one of Cours Saleya market's surrounding restaurants. Park up with an inexpensive glass of wine and watch the bustle of people going about their day. Turn it into a game and guess the number of people you will see holding baguettes. I bet you will get close to three digits in an hour.
Have coffee and a pastry in Nice
It really would be rude to visit Nice and not indulge in a pastry, or five. To start the day well, visit a local bakery and order a coffee and a pain au chocolat.
You can't really go wrong in terms of places to get pastries — although the coffee can leave a lot to be desired. Eclairs, millefeuilles and fruit tarts are piled in cabinets but really, is there anything better than dunking a croissant in your morning coffee?
Marvel at the Matisse Museum in Nice (€10)
The south of France has inspired some of the greatest artists in history. Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, and Edvard Munch are a few examples.
Henri Matisse, one of the masters of modern art, lived in Nice for almost half his life. The Matisse Museum celebrates his work, containing one of the largest collections of his art.
Step inside and admire paintings, sculptures, furniture, and some of Matisse's personal items. The artist is buried in the cemetery near the museum.
Saunter around the Prince's Palace of Monaco (€8)
Originally built in 1191 as a fortress, the Prince's Palace of Monaco has a dramatic history which involves both murderous sieges and decadent glamour.
Currently home to Prince Albert II, tourists can walk through the state rooms during summer months and see a fittingly rich display of artefacts, lush furniture and impressive art.
The palace features the last known portrait of Princess Grace (Kelly) to be painted before her death in a car crash.
Qatar Airways flies from Auckland to Nice, via Doha, with return Economy Class fares from $1574, on sale until January 16.