This selection of budget-priced hotels takes you along the beaches and resorts of the Côte d’Azur, from Toulon to Menton and the border with Italy. While rates will rise steeply in July and August, the Riviera can still be an affordable destination. All prices quoted are for off-peak season, including breakfast (unless stated) and Wi-Fi.
Hôtel Lido Beach, Hyères
On a quiet, private beach just outside the genteel resort of Hyères, once a favourite of Queen Victoria, the Lido is a kitsch 1960s hotel, recently renovated by Lydie and Eric Briand, who came to start a new life in the south of France from their home in the Alps. A short boat trip away are the beautiful islands of Porquerolles and Port-Cros. Hyerès itself is quiet and friendly, a big contrast to the more glamorous resorts on the Côte d’Azur. This hotel is an excellent place for families, the Briands are big animal-lovers, so all pets are accepted free of charge, and they also have larger studios with kitchens.
• 5 Avenue Emile Gérard, +33 4 9401 4380, lido-beach.com. Doubles from €60
Au Coeur De Saint-Tropez, Saint-Tropez
You need to book well in advance to reserve one of the two rooms of this funky B&B that lives up to its name – in the heart of Saint-Tropez, it’s two minutes’ walk from Ponche bay – and is very reasonably priced compared with the surrounding hotels. The B&B is in the attic of an ancient fisherman’s house, with great views over the rooftops, but be warned that there is a steep walk up three flights of steps. One room is a duplex, the other open-plan with a Jacuzzi, and the decor is very Saint-Tropez, seriously faux-glamour with shiny silver armchairs and purple paintwork.
• 7 rue St-Jean, +33 6 1605 2176, aucoeurdesainttropez.com. Doubles from €90 (breakfast not included)
Hôtel les Calanques, Les Issambres
Compared with the usual golden sand beaches of the Côte d’Azur, this friendly family-run hotel sits on a rocky outcrop looking out over the turquoise waters of a "calanque" creek. Walk through their lush garden of pine trees and palms and you arrive right on the water’s edge in a sheltered cove. The 12-room property is open all year round, and a residents-only bistro offers an excellent €20 dinner featuring Provençale specialities such as pissaladière (a thin tart topped with onion, anchovies and olives), soupe au pistou and locally caught fish.
• Rue du Nid au Soleil, +33 4 9811 3636, hotel-les-calanques.com. Doubles from €58
L’Hirondelle Blanche, Saint-Raphaël
Saint-Raphaël is one of the Riviera’s surprise resorts, quiet and discrete, yet just a quick boat ride away from Cannes and Saint-Tropez. The perfect place to stay is the Hirondelle Blanche, a grand belle époque mansion right on the sea promenade with access to a free public beach. George Methout has beautifully renovated five guestrooms, several with seaviews, and he is a mine of information for sightseeing. You will often find musicians, artists and actors on long-stays here when they are performing and exhibiting on the Riviera.
• 533 avenue des Chèvrefeuilles, +33 4 9811 8403, hirondelle-blanche.fr. Doubles from €49 (breakfast not included)
Les Flots Bleus, Baie d’Anthéor
Many tourists drive straight past Les Flots Bleus, as from the outside it resembles a vintage American motel, but they are missing out on one of the Côte d’Azur’s hidden secrets. The Baie d’Anthéor is a spectacular setting, with the deep blue water of the Mediterranean set against a pastel-red stone mountain. Each of the 18 rooms are vividly decorated, and the surprise comes when you sit down for a meal in the elegant restaurant. Owner-chef Olivier Vollant creates dishes that merit a Michelin star, yet his delicious "menu découverte" is priced at just €23.50, while for a splash-out there is the €56 10-course tasting menu.
• Avenue Eugène Brieux, +33 4 9444 8021, hotel-cote-azur.com. Doubles from €62
La Jabotte Hôtel, Antibes
With Roman Abramovich’s mansion just round the corner it is amazing you can still find well-priced accommodation just by Antibes’ long sandy beach. La Jabotte offers a great deal for its guests. Owned by a welcoming Belgian couple, Claude and Yves, their hotel has a dozen comfy rooms in three buildings that surround a shady garden patio. They put on a great spread at breakfast and provide deckchairs and umbrellas for the beach free of charge – very rare in the Côte d’Azur. And each evening they organise an aperitif for guests where wine or a cocktail costs €6 and they prepare a selection of complimentary tapas.
• 13 avenue Max Maurey, +33 4 9361 4589, jabotte.com. Doubles from €86
Hôtel Aeva, Cagnes-sur-Mer
Cagnes-sur-Mer is smack between Cannes and Nice and Hotel Aeva sits right on the busy road that follows the breathtaking Baie des Anges. The interiors of this 1930s roadhouse have been redecorated like a design boutique hotel and all rooms have double-glazing so there is no noise from the busy traffic. Across from the promenade de la Plage is the private Aeva Beach, which has its own restaurant, lounge bar and DJ at the weekend. The hotel is owned by an ex-footballer from Paris Saint-Germain, and there is definitely a buzz to the place. There is another building at the back with 21 self-catering studios, priced from €70.
• 22 boulevard de la Plage, +33 4 9373 3952, hotel-aeva.fr. Doubles from €80 (breakfast not included)
Welcome Hôtel, Villefranche-sur-Mer
Hidden away just before you arrive in Monte Carlo, the ancient harbour of Villefranche is one of the most idyllic spots on the Riviera, and the stylish Welcome Hotel has been a favourite resort for the likes of Jean Cocteau, Gloria Swanson, Cary Grant and Winston Churchill. Each of its 35 rooms are well-furnished with air-conditioning and have a seaview and balcony. There is no restaurant but an excellent wine bar with tables looking out over the water. Due to its location, room rates tend to shoot up in summer, but this is perfect for an off-season break too.
• 3 quai Amiral Courbet, +33 4 9376 2762, welcomehotel.com. Doubles from €115 (breakfast not included)
Hôtel Victoria, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
The Victoria, reopened last year, has to be one of the top budget addresses on the Riviera right now. The brainchild of young English entrepreneur, Mathew Likierman, he has brilliantly transformed a 32-room 1960s hotel into a chic designer bolthole, whose decor is inspired by Le Corbusier. There is a lively cocktail bar but no restaurant, while deck chairs and towels are provided free for the long public beach right opposite. For the English touch, rooms have a tea and coffee maker plus a minibar where non-alcoholic drinks are complimentary.
• 7 Promenade du Cap, +33 4 9335 6590, hotel-victoria.fr. Doubles from €99 (breakfast not included)
Hôtel Prince De Galle, Menton
Menton is the last stop on the French Riviera before the border with Italy. It is one of the most seductive stop-offs on the coast, with pastel villas and mansions, a lively food market and brand-new museum dedicated to Jean Cocteau. There is also a wonderful long beach with a series of grand hotels that date back to the days of the Grand Tour. Menton was once owned by the princess of Monaco, and the Prince de Galles was where the palace guards lived. It looks right over the water, and is owned by a local family who have maintained a high standard for the rooms and also opened one of Menton’s best restaurants on the ground floor and garden of the hotel.
• 69 promenade du Soleil, +33 4 9328 2121, princedegalles.com. Doubles from €70 (breakfast not included)