Travel for Free in the South of France

Mention Saint-Tropez in a crowd of Francophiles and your audience will have ready-made images in their head of celebrities in sparkly attire and high heels, tipsy on too much Dom Pérignon.

They may also comment on the price of a visit. A night in a mid-range hotel can cost $300, and if you want to stay awhile, then renting a 645-square-foot apartment will set you back around $3,000 to $4,000 a month.

But there’s another way that I’ve discovered. It’s easy, it’s free, and you can do this anywhere.

It all started over a year ago and many miles from here. In the midst of a year-long volunteering adventure in the Philippines, my partner and I realized we needed a lifestyle change.

Free Accommodation When you House-Sit

We wanted to be able to travel when we pleased and for as long as we liked. My partner is an IT consultant and I’m a freelance writer. So as long as we’ve got a solid Internet connection and a decent workspace, we can work from anywhere. That’s when we discovered house-sitting.

In return for looking after someone’s home while they are away, you get free accommodation. They may ask you to mind a pet, water the plants, or clean the pool, and you have a new temporary home in a part of the world you want to visit.

We decided to look into doing house-sitting gigs in France. We signed up for a French house-sitting service online, but hadn’t heard anything, when a friend contacted us to say she’d found an ad in a newspaper. There was a small house on a beautiful plot of land in the hills of Saint-Tropez, a few minutes’ walk to the nearest beach, whose owner needed someone to look after things for a month.

A phone call and a few e-mails later, and it was settled: We’d look after the home in exchange for free rent and no bills while the friendly owner traveled through India, free from worry about the goings-on back home.

Admittedly, it was a bit of an experiment for us. Could we do this? Pick up our things and work in a completely new setting? The answer was “yes!” And there were lots of perks to boot.

Nude beaches and yachts as far as the eye can see is summertime Saint-Tropez. The off-season is something else entirely. And we were experiencing it first-hand…for free. We found a sleepy beach town surrounded by lush green hills and streets lined with pretty townhouses.

There are gorgeous promenades (walks) to be had, both in the town and outside. Saint-Tropez was first made famous by a number of artists, like Signac and Matisse, for whom the town played muse…

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