Le petit Marais Niçois (Bonaparte et Place du Pin) – Putting Nice on the LGBT Travel Map
In recent years Nice has been racing to catch up with Paris in terms of boasting a LGBT friendly atmosphere to match its welcoming climate, cuisine and many other delights. It has done so in leaps and bounds. 2011 really put Nice on the LGBT travel map, when it became the first city in France to receive the ‘Gay Comfort’ label from the IGLTA. If you’re interested in booking a trip to Nice, check out the apartments available, and then read on for an idea of what to expect.
For rue Bonaparte it all started with a corner café on Place du Pin which led to more gay bars, restaurants and chic boutiques opening here culminating in the accolade of Le Petit Marais Niçois (for the uninitiated Le Marais is the gay district of Paris, roughly equivalent to Soho in London). The number of LGBT events has also been growing steadily; La Pink Parade, Dolly Street, Les Madmoizelles, Rainbow Power nights, Lou Queernaval, In&Out film festival to name a few and Place du Pin often gets involved. Midsummer is a music festival all over France and the biggest and best party is often found under the pine tree after which the square is named.
Walking down rue Bonaparte today from the splendour of Place Garibaldi you can see why locals and newcomers are so proud of this renovated quartier. Numerous bars and eateries line the pavements jostling for position with bijou shops and more traditional fares and wares. It has many smiling faces, the buzz of excitement to come and you will very soon feel at home. “Nice, irisée naturellement” or “A Natural Iridescence” is a quality charter set up in 2015 which participating bars, restaurants and other businesses have signed up to and receive training from local LGBT organizations ensuring that your stay in Nice is as suited to your needs as possible.
Things to See and Do
So, where to go and what to do? Start early with a great coffee from Delibo or Brasilia. Sit and watch the beautiful people go by or take a stroll and dip into some of the art galleries, antique shops or specialist boutiques. Lucien Chausseur (6 rue Bonaparte) will have you craving Italian leather with his delightful footwear from his native Italy. The name on the shopfront is a legacy from the past but the charming current occupier, Domenico Gigante, has seen the more recent changes in this neighbourhood; from a dark, traffic-dominated street with a roundabout around the central pine tree, it has become a pedestrian priority zone with wide pavement terraces and a community spirit, well-deserving of its Parisian comparison. Other trendy boutiques are dotted around; try Boutique Apollon on Rue Cassini for some chic or sexy ‘lingerie masculine’. Lovers of lamp shades to vintage glamour will all find something to satisfy their craving, and hairdressers and florists are on hand if need be!
Lunch should be on a pavement terrasse; à la française. Try the tasty offerings of Le Comptoir d’Electricité but be warned that you may be tempted to stay here all the way through to cocktails! Stéphanie, a Niçoise born in this area, loves this place. She is happy chatting in both English and French and tells me how the bar staff are very professional and know their wines and cocktails. There is a natural ‘mixité’ which she is drawn to and she tells me that EVERYTHING in this area has changed for the better!
Also check our 5 restaurants in Nice with great views.
But perhaps you came to Nice for the beach?! If you prefer a seaside lunch, then a short 15-minute walk along the Port beneath Colline du Chateau will take you to Castel Plage. Situated on the closest part of Nice’s long pebbly beach this is one of the classiest private beaches in town and is gay friendly. By paying for a ‘transat’ or lounger, you can do the beach in style; no tripping over pebbles or sipping warm drinks.
To get the night started you are spoilt for choice. An apéro at Gossip Bar which has a lounge atmosphere and themed nights, a drink on the terrace at Malabar Station before the serious action starts downstairs after ten, or at Pinxcho where you could also stay to eat. Le Dandy, a relative newcomer, is also a good place to catch a few afternoon rays on the terrace or a meatier meal across at Chez Fabien with their excellent rotisserie. Within a few minutes’ walk on Rue Lascaris you have Rosalita Bar with its hip interior including a swing and Italian inspired cuisine, L’Uzine has great cocktails and often live music.
For after dinner entertainment, there are bars and clubs to cater for all tastes; soft to hard, smooth to hairy. Le Code on rue Papon is the next street over, Eagle Bar on rue Emmanuel Philibert is a stone’s throw and for those looking for some French cabaret shows, a short stroll into the Old Town will take you to Bar Bitch/Butch on rue Rossini. But the cherry on the Riviera’s cake for bright lights and holiday beats is Le Glam (a twenty-minute walk across town) where for 9 years DJs from both the French and international gay scene have been taking the party through to morning.
Welcome to the Côte d’Azur; you’ll discover a rainbow but without the rain.