Nice Gay Travel
Nice is the gay destination of the Cote D’Azur, taking LGBT inclusivity to new heights. Discover Nice gay travel experiences, gay bars, beaches & local travel tips.
The Gay Travel Experience: Nice, France
One of the most beautiful and gay-friendly places along the Mediterranean coast, Nice gay travel is quite high on my list of destination recommendations. I felt more at home in the city of Nice than in any other place in France.
Nice is by no means an undiscovered travel destination. Travelers from all over make trips to the sunny south of France, but Nice certainly offers a unique experience to the gay traveler. The best part about my gay Nice experience was the overwhelming feeling that no matter who I am, I will be accepted by a notoriously accepting and open-minded community.
I quickly learned how gay-friendly the Nice truly is while looking for some LGBT-friendly places to visit. A program called Nice Irisée Naturellement (Natural Iridescence), created in 2011, formally unites many community establishments with a quality service pledge.
Restaurants, hair salons, bars and other businesses join together with local LGBT associations and the Visitors Bureau to provide genuinely inclusive services in accordance with set quality guidelines.
You can identify if an establishment is part of Nice Irisée Naturellement by checking the Nice Tourisme Gay-Friendly Nice Pamphlet. In person, you can identify a business by one of the fantastic rainbow sticker logos they proudly display in their storefront.
Gay Nice: Where to Stay
The Old Village is certainly the quaintest part of Nice. The neighborhood’s narrow walkways flow with people perusing shops and restaurants. Most of the buildings are…you guessed it—old. Most don’t have elevators. So, if you’re booking an Airbnb, check what floor the apartment is on.
Equally as adorable is the area of Nice north of the Old Port. A bit more modern and very pedestrian friendly, this is my favorite area of the city to wander around. Wider streets allow restaurants to spread out; you’ll find outdoor restaurant seating just about everywhere.
For a portion of my trip I stayed at Hotel Aston Scala, located on the border of the Old Village and the Jean-Medecin neighborhood. Directly on Nice’s main promenades, the views from the rooftop were stunning. Hotel Aston Scala is recommended by dozens of travel websites, so I figured I would give it a try. This place surely did not disappoint!
You can browse other fabulous hotels in Nice on Trip.com. They’re my favorite site for booking trips since they seem to have the most hotel options!
I stayed in a quaint Airbnb in the Riquer neighborhood for the remainder of my stay. In contrast to the flashy areas near the waterfront or along the upscale throughfares of the city, this Nice neighborhood offered a more authentic and local feel.
A short walk north of the Old Port area, I felt like just like a local. A pedestrian friendly main road with many shops and grocery stores felt like home. Walking to the closest beach took between 15 and 20 minutes, which isn’t bad if you’re looking for accommodations that balance a cost-effective price and convenience of location.
Nice Gay Travel Experiences
Nice is a smaller city, but there will certainly be no shortage of things to do. If you’re visiting during the warmer part of the year (Nice has great beach weather through late September), you’re going to fall in love with enjoying meals outdoors and strolling along Nice’s iconic promenade.
Here are some of my recommended things to do on your Nice gay travel adventure!
Musée du Palais Lascaris: Baroque Art & Music Museum
The Musée du Palais Lascaris is a quaint music and art museum focusing on work from the 17th and 18th centuries. I loved looking at the beautiful range of musical instruments here!
Musée du Palais Lascaris is good for a quicker activity, especially if you need a break from the summer heat or bad weather. If you’re up for a bit of history during your day, stop by as you meander through the Nice Old Town. You can see all the museum’s rooms in about an hour.
Students can enter free of charge with identification. Walk through the metal gate to the office on the left when you arrive at the main doorway. Sometimes the ropes out front can give the impression that the museum is closed.
Go Sightseeing on Castle Hill
Make a journey to the beautiful Castle Hill for a bit of exercise and the best views of Nice. Castle Hill is a must-see for every Nice gay traveler. Here is where you’ll get that iconic selfie and photo overlooking the entire city.
There are several lookout points and a large park atop the mountain. CastIe Hill used to be the site of the Castle of Nice, which was destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century. The greenery, waterfalls and views are spectacular.
Unless you’re interested in a serious hike, you can take the nifty elevator that’s built into the mountainside to climb Castle Hill. The elevator entrance is adjacent to the waterfront promenade. It’ll take you almost all the way to the top.
Once you’re up there, you will only encounter a few inclined pathways before reaching the lookout point. Don’t forget your camera!
Relax at a Café in the Old Village
There is no better place to embrace French café culture than in Nice’s Old Town, or Vieille Ville in French. Place Rosetti is a cute plaza in front of the Nice Cathedral (Cathédrale Sainte-Reparate de Nice) where people enjoy the plethora of outdoor restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops.
I spent some time at Antonia Café, an LGBT-friendly establishment right in this area. There is free Wi-Fi in the the plaza that works well, too. I did a bit of work here one afternoon.
Visit The Old Port of Nice (Port Lympia)
The Old Port area is one of the most beautiful spots in the city. Colorful buildings line the waterfront, where yachts get cleaned, fisherman perform their daily tasks and the sun glistens over the water.
I really enjoyed walking around the Nice Old Port because few tourists spend time here. There aren’t any people to wade through-just picturesque views of local life.
While walking back toward the center of the city, stop to take a photo in front of the giant “I Love Nice” sign. You’ll probably compete with a few other tourists, but it makes a fun, memorable moment.
Beaches in Nice
The beautiful clear water of the Cote D’Azur is such a spectacular sight. Don’t let anyone tell you differently; the sea here is clear, blue and so refreshing. Sure…there are dreamy beaches in places like Holbox, Mexico and Koh Samui, Thailand, but the beaches here in Nice have a special relaxed ambiance that’s truly unforgettable.
The coastline boasts many beach clubs with bars and restaurants, which is ideal if you prefer the luxurious beach experience. There are also plenty of areas where beachgoers dot the coast with their towels. Except for the cordoned off beach club areas, beaches in Nice are free and open to the public. You may want to carry a few euros for public restrooms, though.
Nice Gay Beaches
There are a couple of gay beaches in Nice where you can easily find other gay tourists or locals, especially during the height of the summer holiday season.
On the eastern side of the city, you have the Castel Plage gay beach. Castel Plage itself is a full-service beach club. However, LGBT travelers also hang out in the public area of Castel Plage, adjacent to the beach club. If you plan to go inside the beach club, visit the Castel Plage Website to make a reservation for a table.
Toward the western part of Nice is Spity Beach, the other Nice gay beach. Recently, the Spity Beach Club establishment was reported to be permanently closed. You can likely still hang out on the public beach adjacent to the old club. If you want a beach club experience though, you’d probably be better off going to Castel Plage.
You’re much more likely to find groups of guys at the gay beaches in Nice during the weekends. In the summer months, many people travel to Nice from other areas of France. Beaches tend to have more visitors during these times, especially Saturdays. I personally saved my Saturdays for the beach.
Nice Gay Bars, Clubs & Cruising
Nice has a pretty wide array of gay bars and parties. I would not necessarily categorize Nice as a top gay party destination, but there is surely plenty of gay nightlife for the gay traveler to explore.
Gay nightlife in Nice ranges from comfortable street-side gay bars to dance clubs where you can dance until the sun comes up.
Malabar Station: Mainstay Nice Gay Bar & Cruising
Malabar Station is the most visible, colorfully ostentatious gay bar in Nice. Their rainbow chairs line the sidewalk just outside the Old Town. Many Nice gay travelers pay a visit to Malabar Station because it’s an easy spot to start a night out and maybe grab dinner with friends.
While Malabar Station is fun and always draws a crowd, I wouldn’t say that you’re missing that much if you didn’t get a chance to visit. There are lots of Nice gay bar options, so you might have to prioritize!
Malabar is also popular as a gay cruising spot in Nice. As the time passes midnight on weekends, guys may start exploring the back room of the bar.
L'Oméga Club: Compact Nice Gay Nightclub
I went to a gay party called BearDrop, which is a bear-oriented party that rotates around cities throughout France. They hadn’t hosted a party in a while, but were coincidentally re-releasing the weekend I visited.
This BearDrop party was at L’Omega nightclub, a smaller sized venue (in terms of a nightclub). They had a stellar DJ, friendly staff and a dedicated smoking room (many find it frustrating when smoking is allowed inside European bars). The lights in L’Oméga are also pretty impressive!
Eagle Bar Nice: Leather & Gay Cruising Bar
On Tuesdays, Eagle Bar Nice hosts their weekly Blackout Party. If you’re not in Nice for the weekend, this could be a great option for a gay activity. The bar is open from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM.
Also, the bar is not easy to find and there is no obvious signage visible from the street. Here is the precise location of Eagle Bar Nice, so you can bookmark it for later.
Unfortunately, I found Eagle Nice to be closed upon arrival, without any announcement (their website and Google both indicated they were open). I was a bit disappointed, and still don’t actually know if this was a fluke experience, or if Eagle Nice can close without warning should attendance be insufficient. If you know the answer, send wolfyy an email and let me know!
So, if Eagle is on your list too, have a backup plan or find a local to give some more insight. Even some locals seemed confused when they were showing up!
Le Code: Nice Gay Cruising & Fetish Club
If you’re looking for a spot solely for gay cruising in Nice, then Le Code is the place! Based on various reviews of Le Code, as well as personal experience, it can definitely be difficult to determine if a the crowd inside will be to your liking. It’s a bit of a challenge to figure out if a desirable number of guys will be in the cruising club at the time you show up or plan to visit.
Firstly, you have to time it right. If you show up too late in the night, you might miss the crowd. If you’re determined to visit at least once, I suggest going a little before 1:00AM. It’s late enough that people will be out and about at bars, yet early enough that they haven’t already gone home.
I suggest checking Le Code on Google Maps before you go to see if there is any data available on how busy it is. Le Code is open every night until 3:00 AM the following morning.
Nice Gay Events
There is a wealth of LGBT events hosted in the City of Nice every year. I personally have not been in Nice for these events, but they are all well known for being wonderful parts of the Nice LGBT social scene.
So Fétiche: Nice Gay Fetish Week
The leather community celebrates in Nice during the annual So Fétiche gay fetish week, hosted by Evidence Fétiche. Events take place on the last weekend of November. This year (2020), Nice So Fétiche #5 is planned for November 19-22. Check out details and buy tickets on the Evidence Nice So Fétiche #5 Web Page.
The Nice Fetish weekend is quite a social gathering. If you’re thinking of joining, you’ll have lots of time to make friends with this international crowd. The weekend’s activities range from group sightseeing tours, dinner and brunch parties, and gatherings at local gay bars.
Among the Nice So Fétiche festivities is the official crowning of “Mr. Evidence Leatherman,” at the end of the weekend.
Pink Parade: Nice LGBT Pride Celebration
The City of Nice has a special name for their Nice Gay Pride festivities. It’s Pink Parade! Just to be clear, Pink Parade is the yearly LGBT pride festival in Nice; there is no separate gay pride festival.
Pink Parade Nice usually happens in late July, but sometimes takes place in early August. Marchers take to the sun-drenched streets of the Côte d’Azur to fight homophobia. An organization called AGLAE, organizes the pride event. I didn’t attend since my visit to Nice was in September, but it definitely looks like a blast!
In & Out Queer Film Festival
The In & Out Festival is a queer film festival held in Nice each year in late spring. It first began in 2009, and has grown in popularity, coordinating different themes for the eyes of more spectators every year.
While it’s not specifically a gay event, you’ll undoubtedly find gay men at Nice Carnival. Attending Carnival in Nice is a great reason to bring your most fabulous garb and dress up to get yourself admitted into the Carnival standing area!
Remember that if you are planning to enter into the area where people are in costume, you are expected to dress quite extravagantly. If your costume is only on half of your body or you’re only wearing accessories, the staff will likely not allow you to enter.
Nice Carnival 2021 is already scheduled! It will take place from February 13th to 27th. Check the Nice Carnival Official Website for detailed information. I hope I get to make a trip to Nice for one of these celebrations some time soon!
Gay Travel Tips
Nice is a popular European vacation destination. I visited in early September and I caught the very end of the summer holiday season. There was not as much of a crowd as could probably be expected at the peak of summer, but it wasn’t empty either.
I would say the best time to visit Nice would be during these summer months, June through early September, when the other gay travelers flock to the Cote d’Azur for holiday.
The city of Nice has fantastic public transport. There’s an adorable tram that runs late into the night. Even with this connectivity though, I didn’t need to use the tram more than a few times. The city is very walkable. Pretty much anything you want to visit should take 30 minutes or less on foot.
Note that here in Nice, the beaches consist of large cobbles. They are round enough that you can lay on them with a towel, but it is not as soft and moldable as sand is. If you prefer more comfort while walking along the cobble beach, pack a pair of lace-up water shoes, or perhaps a pair of Birkenstock Sandals.
If you’re a diehard sand fan, walk along the shoreline toward one of the few areas where the city has artificially placed regular sand. I will say though…I definitely enjoyed not having to remove any sand stuck to me!
If you’re headed to the south of France, check flight fares and compare airlines with Vayama: International Travel Solved. They have an awesome interface and make it super easy to optimize your route.
France Gay Rights
Congrats to France for being one of the gay-friendliest countries in the world! France repealed old sodomy laws back during the French Revolution in the late 1700’s. Today, same-sex couples can adopt children. Proudly, France was the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.
France’s latest milestone in advancing LGBT rights involves MSM blood donations. Taking a step in the right direction, the health minister announced a reduced the abstinence period before an MSM can donate blood. The law changed this time period from one year to four months.