Prince Harry and Meghan Markle flew (in economy!) to this romantic spot to ring in 2018

  • Phil Boucher
  • Peter Mikelbank
  • People
4:54 p.m Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 AJC Homepage

Prince Harry and fiancée Meghan Markle welcomed 2018 in style – by flying to the south of France.

The engaged couple – who are due to marry at Windsor Castle on May 19 – flew in economy class seats to Nice on New Year’s Eve, sitting alongside regular passengers on a scheduled British Airways morning flight from London’s Heathrow airport.

“They sat at the back,” a source tells PEOPLE. “It was the morning flight from Heathrow. I guess they did it so that they could get on and off separately.”

>> See a young Meghan Markle as an adorable flower girl at her aunt’s wedding

According to local reports in Monaco Matin, the couple headed to nearby Monaco as soon as they set foot on French soil. They later enjoyed the New Year’s festivities in the small principality with friends, along with a spectacular firework display high above the exclusive harbor. The festivities kicked off a thrilling year for the couple, who will spend the coming weeks planning their wedding and their future together.

The local report adds that the couple left the Côte d’Azur on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The south of France is a familiar destination for the royal family – although it has not always been the happiest.

In September 2012, a little more than a year into their marriage, Kate Middleton and Prince William spent time at a château in Provence, owned by the second Earl Snowdon, the Queen’s nephew.

During that trip, photographers snapped images of Kate sunbathing toplesss, prompting a court case that culminated in Closer magazine being ordered to pay $120,000 in damages for invasion of privacy.

>> Meghan Markle's sorority photo from college proves she hasn't changed one bit

“My wife and I thought that we could go to France for a few days in a secluded villa owned by a member of my family, and thus enjoy our privacy,” William said in an emotional statement read in court.

“We know France and the French and we know that they are, in principle, respectful of private life, including that of their guests. The clandestine way in which these photographs were taken was particularly shocking to us as it breached our privacy.”

In earlier times, King Edward VIII and American socialite Wallis Simpson also spent much of their life together in Cannes, following his abdication from the British throne in 1936.

View full experience