Avid LGBTQ travelers love to flock to Paris’ gay bars, restaurants and nightclubs, especially to its vibrant and bustling neighborhood known as Le Marais. However, as inclusive as Paris is, it mainly caters more to gay male culture than to lesbian, transgender, or other queer folk. This doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas that keep this in mind. As the south of France and cities along the French Riviera attract more and more tourists with each passing year, the sunny beach town of Nice stands out when it comes to  inclusivity, adventure, safety, and fun local events for its LGBTQ visitors. 

If you’re looking for unforgettable experiences that are fit–and sometimes designed specifically–for the LGBTQ community, then Nice should be your next go-to destination. On y va!

lgbtq guide to johannesburg
Photo by Paul Rysz.

Bars and Restaurants 

Luckily, it’s very easy to spot LGBTQ-friendly restaurants, bars and cafés in Nice. These grub spots will usually either fly rainbow flags over the business storefront or display a colorful city-certified plaque that reads “Nice, a natural iridescence.” This verifies that the business is LGBTQ-friendly. However, do not be alarmed if flags or plaques aren’t visible. Many restaurants, bars, cafés and other venues are very welcoming to the community as well. 

Chez Mémère, or grandma’s house, may fool tourists with its homey, traditional southern French charm during the daytime, but when night falls, its atmosphere is defined by an LGBTQ decadence. Dinner is served by some of Nice’s oldest and most energetic granny drag queens dressed in grey curly wigs, nightgowns, chained reading glasses, and of course, red lipstick. You’ll definitely leave with more satisfaction than just a full tummy. 

Despite the wave of drag culture sweeping across the United States and the United Kingdom, drag queens are historically rare in France. However, drag queens and drag shows are beginning to become a staple in queer bars. From drag shows on Sundays and rosé happy hours in the evening, Insta Bar not only likes to remind people they’re always welcome, but that it’s also home to France’s most famous faces in drag. 

lgbtq guide to nice
Photo by Robin Benzrihem.

Nightclubs and Events

Since Nice is not as populous as other major cities in France, don’t be surprised if you see familiar faces bussing tables, mixing drinks, or even performing in drag at more than one nightclub or bar. Popular nightclubs like Le Kluber and Le Glam Bar often have guest appearances by local drag queens, DJs, and dancers on weekends, which makes Nice’s LGBTQ clubbing experience familiar and extraordinary. 

Summer and fall are the seasons when club events run from Wednesday to Sunday, but during the rest of the year visitors can mostly cut loose with locals on Fridays and Saturdays. In case you’re in the mood for a toned-down club evening, underground clubs like Le Six are well known for their karaoke nights and relaxed lounge setting on Wednesday evenings. 

Pink Parade 

Nice’s famous Jazz Festival brings in thousands of people every year, but many Niçois locals also look forward to the Pink Parade for  one of the biggest parties of the year during pride month. Every summer, the streets are filled with LGBTQ locals and allies waving rainbow flags and wearing festive costumes, while DJs on floats occupy nearly every corner of the promenade. The Pink Parade celebrates LGBTQ solidarity in Nice, while also acting as one of the largest queer events in Europe.

lgbtq guide to nice
Photo by Kevin Oetiker.

Tours and Attractions

The best part about visiting Nice is the ability to take a new day trip every day to its neighboring small towns and countries. Monaco is one train stop away, while the colorful town of Ventimiglia, Italy lies right beside it. Both are worth visiting and are friendly toward LGBTQ travelers.

For LGBTQ art and history, the Contemporary Museum of Modern Art is walking distance from the beach, and just next door if you’re staying near the city square. During the fall, you can also catch some of the oldest queer-forward films at the In & Out Film Festival

The hilly and fairytale-like city of Èze houses artwork from both underrated and unknown artists. LGBTQ art can be discovered in many of its small corners during the hike up the mountain to the city’s exotic garden overlooking the French Riviera, which has its fair share of private gay and LGBTQ beaches along the coast. 

There is a reason that France has become such a popular country for LGBTQ travelers. Along with hotspots like Paris, its smaller cities have also embraced queer culture and have become ideal places to visit.

Do you have any recommendations for LGBTQ travelers in Nice? Be sure to share in the comments below!

Header photo by Oscar Nord.