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Nestled 'twixt Monaco and Cannes, OutUK's Adrian Gillan falls for the Brit- and gay-dominated heart and soul of the French Riviera!

Gazing down from Castle Hill - on the luxury liner- and yacht-bobbing Old Port to the East, and the vast, sun-drenched Baie des Anglais, Promenade and Old Town to the West - it's not hard to understand why - along with Ancient Greeks, Romans, Savoyians, Piedmontese, Russians and hoards of Brits, to name a few - so many lovers and artists have fallen for now-380,000-thronged Nice, France's fifth largest city.

Make a B-line for the wonderful, great-value hop-on-off open-top double-decker Le Grand Tour bus circuit - with full commentary, taking in all the main sites.

Matisse and Chagall, Dufy and Klein: they've all been entranced by the Mediterranean clime, plus amazingly luminous light, on this barmy, be-palmed stretch of the glorious Côte d'Azur. Stroll the Promenade des Anglais, with its Belle Époque and Art Deco casinos and hotels, then meander the Baroque labyrinthine, brightly-shuttered warren of Old Town cafes, boutiques, churches and markets.
For a dose of culture peruse the Musée Matisse and Musée Marc Chagall; climb Castle Hill, for its shady all-round vistas and cooling cascades; dine al fresco around the Old Port; shop around Place Masséna; meditate at the spot where Isadora Duncan died, strangled by her own flowing scarf, caught in the wheels of her oblivious Bugatti; even revel at Nice Carnival, pulling in over a million celebrants, each Feb 'n March.

NICE BY NIGHT

Most of the queer action is found in and around the Old Town and seafront; mainly kicking off from midnight on. Note: 7 euro (just over a fiver) is standard French base-rate for drinks in any bar-club!

Grab a bite at spacious, modern, fab-value gay-run and -frequented eatery, Keep in Touch, on rue Halevy (see below). Then down a few drinks at swish Le Six, dominated by an amazing multi-coloured chandelier, and offering regular late drag, due East, in the shadow of the Opera House; or at Fard - a buzzing, trendy and packed, warm-hued joint, smack on the seafront.

For some serious dancing Blue Boy is a small, down-to-earth, unpretentious, friendly club with mildly industrial feel, a short walk west of centre.

STEAMED UP

To steam, check out busy "men's health complex", Sauna du Château - central and just one road back from the front. It's a mixed gender venue geared towards couples.

To cruise, minus the steam, make tracks for Eagle which is a hardcore sex club, just back from the Old Port. It's especially for meeting men, the drag and direct sex dates ! It is built around a large central counter where you can refuel you all night in soft drinks, beers, alcohol and above all in guys. If you smoke, you can stay warm in their special room called The Smokehouse.

To "take airs", by day, try Castel Beach, the easternmost central "plage"; or, by night, try the Old Port harbour wall, towards the red-lit lighthouse. Monsieur: en garde!

GETTING THERE

easyJet flies to Nice from Belfast, Bristol, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted and Newcastle, with prices from £29.99 one-way (incl. taxes) and return from £55.38 (incl. taxes). Check out other airlines at low online prices at eBookers. I stayed at the Hotel Villa la Malouine a delightful, gay-owned &and run villa situated close to the Old Town, mere minutes' walk away from beach and port. Rest under the juicy grapefruit tree or enjoy the sunny terrace, with jaccuzzi! There's also a wide selection of other places to stay at low online rates at our hotel partners Booking.com.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK Le Block (10-12 rue Gilly; T: +33 (0)4 93 80 18 55)
Blue Boy (9 rue Spinetta; T: +33 (0)4 93 44 68 24)
Eagle (18 bis, rue Emmanuel Philibert; T: +33 (0)4 93 26 35 30)
Fard (25 promenade des Anglais; T: +33 (0)4 93 80 63 40)
Sauna du Château (17 rue des Ponchettes; T: +33 (0)4 93 85 73 91)
Other useful gay links:
www.gayprovence.org
www.nicegay.fr
www.nicetourisme.com

Revised January 2015.

 

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