Bonjour, I spent last summer in France, I loved it so much I decided to learn the language so the next time I go back I will be able to converse with the natives and someday live there. I only went past Cannes on the train, but I spent a few days in and around Nice...now I know why everyone wants to live on the French Riviera. The beach is better in Cannes though, its sandy while Nices beach is rocky. I didn't spend much more in Nice than in other cities and less than in Paris, but I stayed at the hostel behind the big mall "Nice Etoile". Most college students like myself eat cheap food anyway and luckily wine is cheap (but good) everywhere in France, so the cost is only a little higher in major cities. The best things in France are free, walking around the cities, the beaches, the parks, countryside, the people and even the museums on the first Sunday of each month. There are many wonderful villages around Cannes & Nice. If you visit Nice, you can buy a cheap day travel pass and take the city bus on one of the great scenic rides anywhere, along la corniche, the cliffside road between Nice and Monaco with stops at several villages including Eze. I think Cap Ferrat is one of the most beautiful places in the world, from there one can see Villefranche-sur-mer a charming old village on the hillside, it has a maze of medieval streets, some are tunnels. It wasnt too crowded and there are some nice restaurants along the harbour. As for getting away from the tourist areas, I did just that after the Riviera, I went up into the high Alps of the Savoy. The people of the Savoy are very friendly, the little villages are traditional, so its a taste of authentic French culture and I think they make the best cheese I have ever tasted. Provence is mostly rural, its full of vineyards and olive groves, there are many places that offer degustation where you can taste the wine and meet the people who work at the vineyards. Besides the tourist favourite, the perfume village of Grasse, Provence has many charming slow paced villages were you can meet locals and experience French life, like St. Remy & Salon de Provence. Basically, everywhere you go in Provence is wonderful, I can hardly wait to go back and spend a year or longer in Provence.