Nice, or Nissa in Niçard, is believed to be among Europe's oldest areas of human settlement. The Terra Amata archaeological site indicates very early use of fire here. Greek settlers from Marseille founded a permanent settlement called Nikaia, after the goddess Nike, around 350 BC. With strategic location and a good port it became one of the busiest trading ports on the Ligurian coast, under Italian control during most of the middle ages. French and Ottoman forces laid seige to the city in 1543, ending with the pillage of the city, and the abduction of thousands by Hayreddin Barbarossa. The city finally became part of France in 1860.
English aristocrats and wealthy families began spending winters here during the second half of the 18th century, and the city’s main seaside walk, Le Promenade des Anglais was named for these early tourists. Famous painters such as Chagall, Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Arman were attracted by a distinctive luminosity in the sky of this city. The Musée Chagall, and Musée Matisse, among other museums, are now located here.
Today Nice is the second most popular French city for tourists after Paris. Come see if it’s true what they say about sailors in this Provencal port city. Probably because of the proximity of the Mediterranean and the warmer climate, Nice has a laid-back feel that many find lacking in buttoned-down Paris. Gay and gay-friendly establishments, bars, restaurants, guest houses, sex clubs and saunas, are mostly clustered in the old town and port area streets of Raoul Bosio, Marechal Foch, Bonaparte and Benoit Bunico. There are also several gay or gay-friendly beaches in Nice, and up the coast towards Monaco.
Nice’s Pink Parade arrives with a vengeance each July to the seaside Promenade des Anglais, bringing with it floats, lots of shirtless guys, and some very fierce drag queens. They say the part of the “Prom” by the Parking Ferber parking garage gets fairly cruisy after midnight.
Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport is about 4 miles south of the city. Buses and taxis are on hand to take you downtown. Buy bus tickets at the Office of Buses - not on board.
The main rail station is Gare Nice-Ville. The SNCF high speed TGV trip connects Paris to Nice in under 6 hours; from Marseille in 2.5 hours. Nice also has international TGV rail connections to and from Italy, and Switzerland.
Nice-Villefranche has become the second-largest cruise port in France, with over 350 stopovers and 467,900 passengers who visit the city.
Do as the locals do and stroll along the seaside Promenade des Anglais. Buses whisk you to the nearby towns along the French Riviera and a modern tramway has operated between Las Planas and Pont Michel stations, since 2007. Three more lines are in the planning stage. For all regional buses, trams, trains and ferries, see Public Transit or the Nice Cote d'Azur public transportation pages. The latter also has a list of bicycle rental companies.
Currency and Money
As France is part of the Euro Zone, the euro is the accepted currency. Plenty of ATMs are to be found in the downtown area.
Media & resources
The Nice Cote d'Azur website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, has gay pages, and a fully-updated pdf guide to gay and gay-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops and bars - along with other general tourist information.
Têtu is the French national gay magazine, packed with interesting features, profiles and photos. It’s also one of the slickest gay magazines ever produced.
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