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Nice Better Than Gay Paris

May 25, 2008
The area's largest city is Nice, which, contrary to popular opinion, is not a sickly 'nice', but a little bit naughty with a pervading tolerant spirit and string of gay hangouts between your Nice holiday apartment and favourite beach.

La Plage de Coco beach is Nice's gay beach. I say beach, but I mean rocky platform. A second private beach - Plage Castel - is more popular and categorised as gay-friendly, as is its neighbouring public beach. There are at least two further gay beaches just outside Nice including La Plage d'Eze - or simply 'Eze'.

Eze is a busy, gay, mainly nudist hangout, but you'll need wheels to get in on the action. If you don't have a car, or a friend with a car who'll wait outside your Nice apartment while you check you've got your sunglasses, spare sunglasses, lotion, lip balm, drinks, snacks and dips (there's nothing for miles, or at least a mile), take the bus (the no.100 leaving from outside the main bus station).

You'll need to go down some steps, take a right across a first beach (not gay), and cross the rocks before you arrive in this tranquil haven of bare beauty - a good ten-minute trot across the pebbles.

Oh, and if you don't like pebbles, don't book a holiday apartment in Nice. Or, take a trip to La Plage de La Batterie for some sandy moments. In high summer you'll be sharing the sand with young families, meaning a lot of children. Ange and Brad have recently been clogging up Nice beach space with their growing clan.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were among those attending the nearby 61st Cannes Film Festival, running May 14 - 25. While this is a strictly invite only affair, Nice has an open door policy on all its festivals - being a popular vacation resort there are quite a few - as well its annual winter-month festival, Nice Carnival, held in February.

Since the arrival of the railway to the French Riviera, hordes of British leisure travellers have spent their summers in Nice accommodation off the Promenade des Anglais. With the advent of budget airlines, Nice became ever more accessible. In recent years the French Riviera including Nice has received increased recognition as a gay destination too.

Nice is the fifth largest city in France, so the scene is smaller compared to the scene in larger European cities. But there are ample gay hotspots both in and around Nice, from beaches to bars and clubs, and there's plenty of accommodation in Nice aimed solely or principally at the gay community visiting the area. Most if not all of these hotels, B&Bs and Nice apartment rentals have good standards of service, and some are very well situated - close to the beach and main attractions.

For many Nice's appeal is its vibrancy and energy which is at once relaxing and energising. Founded by the Greeks, who first named it after a shoe ('Nike' the Greek goddess of victory), Nice first became a busy trading port, and then later a major tourist centre and backyard for the moneyed folk including Elton John, who splits his time across his Nice villa and other residences. Who knows, maybe you'll fall in love with and buy an apartment in Nice too.
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