Nice Gay Travel
Nice gay travel advice to experience the best of the Cote D’Azur, including hotels, experiences, gay bars, events, beaches & cruising spots.
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 recommendations. I felt more at home in the city of Nice than in any other place in France.
Nice is by no means undiscovered. In fact, it’s quite a popular gay summer destination. There’s so much to experience, from the gay beach to the local gay bars and cruising clubs.
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 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: Hotels & Where to Stay
Old Nice is certainly the quaintest part of the city, with beautiful narrow walkways lined with shops and restaurants. This is the center of the city and the most popular area to stay in.
Old Nice vacation rentals are great because they often have beautiful balconies overlooking the buzzing historic streets. You can truly feel the buzz of Nice.
Most of the buildings are pretty old and only some have elevators. If you’re considering a place here, check what floor the apartment is on and/or if there is an elevator at least for your luggage.
Note that cars are not allowed within Old Nice, so prepare to carry your luggage from the nearest main road.
Luxury rentals in Nice curated by Plum Guide are another option, best for top-tier quality. If you book far in advance, you’ll be able to find some unbelievable apartments.
The Nice Old Port area is equally adorable. A bit more modern and very pedestrian-friendly, this is my favorite area of the city to wander around. A hotel here would also be great for tourists.
I stayed at Hotel Aston La Scala for a few nights, located on the border of the Old Village and the Jean-Medecin neighborhood. Directly on Nice’s main promenade, 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!
I also stayed in a quaint apartment rental in Riquer. In contrast to the flashy areas near the waterfront or along the upscale thoroughfares of the city, the Riquer neighborhood offers a more authentic, local feel.
A short walk north of the Old Port area, I felt 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 a convenient location.
Nice Gay Travel Experiences
Nice is a smaller city, but there will certainly be no shortage of things to do. Especially during summer, dining outdoors and strolling along Nice’s iconic promenade are so enjoyable.
Musée du Palais Lascaris Baroque Art & Music Museum
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 Old Nice. Total viewing time is less than 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.
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. Castle 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!
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.
Restaurants & Cafés in Nice
There is no better place to embrace French café culture than in Nice’s Old Town, or Vieux 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, cafés, 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 plaza that works well, too. I did a bit of work here one afternoon.
Movida is the perfect spot for brunch or a late afternoon meal. Right on the promenade with views of the water, Movida is in the center of Nice’s restaurant scene. I had some delicious Rosé and tapas here.
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.
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 colorful beach 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.
The Castel Plage public gay beach is on the eastern side of the city’s coast. Castel Plage itself is actually a full-service beach club directly next to this gay beach area.
Many LGBT travelers grab towels to 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.
Spity Beach is the other Nice gay beach, located toward the western part of the shore. 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
Nice has a wide array of gay bars and parties, from comfortable street-side bars to late-night dance clubs. I would not necessarily categorize Nice as a top gay party destination, but there is plenty of gay nightlife.
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.
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
On Tuesdays, Eagle Bar Nice hosts their weekly Blackout Party. If you’re not in Nice for the weekend, this could be a great gay nightlife option. The bar is open from 10 PM to 3 AM.
Also, the bar is not easy to find and there are no obvious signs 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!
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More Clubs In Nice
One of the biggest gay clubs in Nice is Le Glam, popular for a colorful interior with fierce drag queens. I didn’t try this spot since I was at another club. But if I go back, I’ll definitely be paying Le Glam a visit.
Note that overall, many clubs in Nice can be pretty exclusive, denying entry to patrons who aren’t dressed well enough per their standards.
Before entering L’Eleven, I would try to find out if there is a decently-sized crowd inside. Many Nice nightclubs will charge even for unpopular nights where few people are in the establishment!
Nice Gay Cruising
Le Code is the go-to spot for cruising in Nice. Based on various reviews of Le Code, as well as personal experience, it can definitely be difficult to determine if the crowd inside will be to your liking.
Determining if there will be a desirable number of guys in the club during the time you plan to visit can be difficult. 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 AM. 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 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 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 attended these events, but they’re all well-known for being wonderful parts of the Nice LGBT scene.
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.
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.
Weekend activities range from group sightseeing tours, dinners, 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 its 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, France Gay Travel Tips
When to Visit Nice
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.
The best time to visit Nice is June through early September when the other gay travelers flock to the Cote d’Azur for holiday.
Getting Around in Nice
Public transport in Nice is fantastic. There’s a convenient tram that runs late into the night. Even with this great connectivity though, I didn’t need to use the tram more than a few times.
Everything is very walkable. Pretty much anything you want to visit should take 30 minutes or less to reach on foot.
Traveling between cities in France is quite convenient by bus. I traveled all around the Mediterranean coast using FlixBus buses, which are almost always on time, comfortable, civilized, and safe. They’re cheap, too.
Protect Your Feet at the Beach
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 as sand is.
France Gay Rights
France is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world! Today, same-sex couples can adopt children. Proudly, France was the also the world’s first nation to declassify being transgender as a mental illness.
There is a small segment of the population that is fiercely opposed to LGBT rights, and they are quite outspoken. Although I did not witness any of this on my journey through southern France, you may feel it in larger cities.
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 abstinence period before gay men can donate blood. The law changed this time period from one year to four months.
See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world.