If you think that the spectacular South Of France is limited to the likes of celebrities and the super rich, then for the most part, you would be right. Hotels are expensive and even hostel dorms don’t go for less than 30 Euro a night.
Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy all that the South Of France has to offer even if you’re not loaded. In fact, if you’re up for it, not only can it be free, but if you’re over 25, you might even get paid 500 Euro a month to live there.
This Runaway Retreat is Antibes, France.
If you enjoy camping, you are going to love this campsite. The squat is located in the moat along the walking path at the far end of the Fort Carre. Here you can pitch your tent, start a camp fire, and go to bathroom in the relative privacy of the tall grass. There are showers on the beach just a 5 minute walk away where you can get clean and fill up your water bottles. While in the past this squat used to be inhabited by a group of international homeless people, they have since moved on. Now this retreat relatively private and safe. However, there still is a good chance some homeless will drunkenly wandering in on occasion.
The cheapest way to eat is by going to the local social service facility known as Le Cass. Here you can take a hot shower, and chow down on free cheese, baguettes, and croissants. For dinner, the local church often invites the homeless for a delicious French onion soup served with bread and wine.
Things To Do
The beach is the best aspect of this retreat. It is perfect for swimming and enjoying the sunsets. Other things to help pass the time include playing boche ball with the old men in the park, hanging out with the other homeless kids (mostly polish these days), walking the docks and admiring the huge luxury yachts, and exploring the back alleys of the town.
Another very appealing aspect of this retreat is the ability to make and save a considerable amount of money. The first and easiest way to make money is by applying as a homeless person at Le Cass. However, you must be over 25, present a good reason as to why you can’t return to your home country, and have been living in Antibes for at least a few months. If you are accepted, you will be issued a bank card that is refilled monthly with 500 Euro.
The second way you can make money is by getting hit by cars. I highly don’t recommend this method. It is a scam, very dangerous, and is terrible for your health and Karma. Since French driving laws are incredibly strict, hitting someone will often result in a hefty fine or a loss of license. So, if you are hit by a very fancy car, and pretend to be injured, the driver will almost always shell out anywhere between 500 and 1000 Euro in order to avoid going to court. Needless to say, this is not a smart idea!
The final and most promising way to make money is by offering to clean boats. With so many massive private yachts, there is always a need for labor. The work generally consists of cleaning and polishing, but if you know how to varnish and paint you can get paid considerably more. Pay averages at around 15 Euro. For more info on how to get day work or even a permanent position on a luxury yacht, check out How To Work On A Luxury Yacht.
How To Get There
From North America, flights from JFK to London or Paris tend to run at around 400$ one way. If you fly into London, you can usually find a cheap, 20 to 40$, flight to Nice, Cannes, or Marseille. From Paris you may also be able to find a budget airline flight south. If not, you can take a 3 hour ride on the TGV directly to Nice for 88 Euro. For more help on finding cheap flights, check out How To Fly For Cheap. From Nice, you then take a 10 minutes train ride west to Antibes. From the station, walk down to the port and then take a left towards the fort. Enter the walkway of the fort and walk to the furthest side. There you will see the entrance to the moat where you can set up camp.
This Runaway Retreat is for the very broke backpacker or “aspiring homeless person”. Although it is a good place to hangout, practice your French, and save some money, if you’re not careful, you may get stuck there for life. So be sure not to get too friendly with the drunken homeless people and have a plan to move on at some point.
Good luck and safe travels,