Cannes: returning to the scene of the crime. Reminiscing on my first ever trip abroad


Modern day Eurostar terminal in London

So tomorrow I head off by train down to Cannes.  This is not my first visit; in fact Cannes was the first place I travelled to outside the UK, when I was 18.  However that was (mumbles a number) years ago and I don’t remember it too clearly.


Magic Bus: the 2 drivers had perfected the art of changing drivers without stopping the bus

All I remember was that it was ridiculously expensive.  We (me plus a friend, and I use the term loosely) picked Cannes for our holiday for two reasons: firstly because we had heard of it (Cannes festival and all that) and secondly because a company called ‘Magic Bus’ (long since disappeared) did the journey in 24 hours for thirty quid.  In cannes-france-beach-umbrellasthe days before budget airlines (yes, I’m that old) this was a real bargain (ironically when I looked at flights out for this trip EasyJet are doing it now for just thirty-five quid, albeit in that usual EasyJet way of ’35 to get you there and 110 pounds to come back again’).

We did no research in those dark pre-internet days.  Lured solely by the thirty quid journey we failed to realize how expensive Cannes was.  Most of the hotels were full, and even if they weren’t we didn’t have enough money to stay in them, leaving us no alternative but to sleep on the beach.  Even so we still ran out of money in less than a week.


I was not a happy hitcher

My friend rang her parents in tears, and they wired her the airfare home.  I wasn’t prepared for the humiliation of a hundred ‘I told you so’s’ and so I ended up hitchhiking up to Paris and then organizing the cheapest ferry crossing I could find (it was just 11 quid on the smelly Dunkirk route; it’s funny the things you remember).

I never saw my travel companion again; I don’t even remember her name now.  We both lived in London but our paths never crossed.

Anyway on this trip I am hoping to avoid much of the great expense of Cannes by renting an apartment complete with a fridge and cooking facilities, thus limiting my need for the six-euro cola or forty euro ‘set lunch’ that the French Riviera is famous for.  Hopefully my money will last me longer than five days this time.

4 replies »

  1. Haha! I could not help but be reminded of my time in Cannes in 1989… yes pre-wifi too! 🙂

    I caught a ferry from Dover to Calais then train from there to Paris and Cannes to study for a term. If I hadn’t pre-arranged a ‘bed n breakfast’ (basically a bed in a room shared with 3 others from Canada) with another room beside ours with 2 gals from Mumbai in a house run by an old racist couple, wouldn’t have survived!

    However it was a brilliant term full of french lessons, free student passes to the Cannes film fest and remarkable memories. Through the gals, met a friend who remains dear even today 25 years later. We may not see each other very often as live in different parts of Mumbai, but the connect remains strong.

    The lasses I shared a room with? No clue about their names tho!

    • Well as you get older your brain can only hold on to so much information I guess, and I only have vague recollections of those days, probably through rose-tinted (or alcohol fuelled) glasses.

  2. This was great! Many, many years ago a friend and I hitchhiked from London to Paris for the weekend – no phone, no internet, no maps. We somehow managed to get there and back in one piece, without spending more than £50. Ah, those were happy days weren’t they?? (Although I would freak out if my daughters did the same!!)

    • No I never did think hitching was safe, but these days probably wouldn’t need to because there are mega-cheap buses and car sharing schemes and such.
      I would tell teenagers not to do it, rather a case of do what I say not do as I do.
      But yeah it was fun and it was fun because of the element of danger

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