At the weekend I received some private investment towards the development of Dark Side, which will enable me to go to Cannes. I immediately started trawling the internet to book my flight and accommodation.
In previous years it has cost me around a grand to attend Cannes, but this year, even with the investment, I can only afford to spend UKP600. As you know from a previous post, I already slashed UKP260 off my costs by getting free festival accreditation instead of stupidly paying for a market badge like I used to, but how could I save another UKP140, especially when booking relatively late?
The first task was to find a flight, and I was surprised to see that the prices hadn’t changed since I looked at them around Christmas. There’s a temptation to just book the cheapest one, but you have to consider all the ramifications to make sure you’re not falling into a false economy trap. For example, last year I was lured in by a cheap flight and arrived a full day before the festival started, but that was probably cancelled out by the cost of an extra night in the hotel. The flight was also late in the day, which is risky because you have to think about how you’re getting from Nice airport to your hotel at the other end. If you read my blog last year, you’ll know that I ended up having to get an expensive taxi to my hotel after my flight was delayed and the train was cancelled.
So this year, before booking the flight, I worked through all the consequences that the flight would have for the cost of airport transfers at both ends. You can actually fly to Nice from Bristol, which is much closer to Hereford than the London airports, but the slightly reduced cost of getting to the airport is outweighed by the higher cost of the flights. In the end I plumped for an Easyjet 7am departure from Luton on the morning of Sunday May 15th. “Aha!” you’re thinking. “That was stupid. How are you going to get to the airport at that time in the morning?” Well, my plan was to get the last train from Hereford on the Saturday night, which (after multiple changes) would get me to the airport for 1:30am. I could then try to get a few hours’ kip in a chair before check-in opened at 5am. At the other end of the flight, I would arrive at a very reasonable time in the morning and have no trouble getting in to Cannes.
In the past I’ve paid at least UKP90+ for my plane fare, but this flight was just UKP76, so my budget-cutting was going almost as well as George Osborne’s, and with considerably fewer protests.
Next it was time to book a hotel. The closer to Cannes you stay, the more your hotel costs. I quickly found that, at this late stage in the game, there was no availability anywhere less than three miles from the town within my price range. Again, you have to beware of false economies. A cheap hotel a long way from Cannes may seem attractive, but when you miss the last bus back at night and have to fork out for an over-priced taxi, you suddenly realise it wasn’t such a great saving after all.
Last year I stayed about two miles west of Cannes in La Bocca, conveniently situated on the Ligne 1 bus route and a railway line running both to Cannes and Nice. I was keen to have easy access to both those transportation lines this year as well; I knew their timetables; I knew their costs. Using hotels.com, I found Les Residences du Soleil (Le Chateau des Artistes), a few stops further out along the Ligne 1 and railway line. At UKP288 for four nights, it was considerably cheaper than last year’s hotel. I’m very lucky that such a good deal was still available with less than two months to go until the festival. It even has one more star than 2010’s Hotel Neptune. And hopefully won’t have sounds of people listening to porn seeping through the walls. At three miles from Cannes, it’s further out than I’d ideally like, but it’s still walkable if I really have to.
Again, I carefully checked the transport options before booking, particularly how I was going to get from the hotel to Nice airport for my homeward flight departing at 11:25am. Fortunately the trains start running early in France, and with Ranguin Station a few minutes’ walk from Les Residences du Soleil I shouldn’t have any problems.
Totting up the money spent so far, and estimating how much I would spend whilst in France, I realised I had saved so much cash that I could afford to stay at the glamorous Luton Ibis the night before my outbound flight, thus removing the need to kip on some airport seats. Sweet.
So, to recap, the costs were: UKP76 for the flight, UKP288 for the French hotel and UKP28 for the Luton hotel, making a total of UKP392 so far.