With Apollo, the gayest statue on the Riviera, now reigning over Place Massena (…and looking out on to plastic statues of nude men glowing in pastel colors!), is it any wonder that in just two years, Nice has rocketed from 12th place to #1 on the French magazine Tetu’s list of France’s most gay-friendly cities outside of Paris?
A new politic in the Mayor’s office has been a major influence: Just a few years ago, outgoing mayor Peyrat was against a Gay and Lesbian center opening in Nice, but the new Mayor Christian Estrosi not only made it happen, but presided over last May’s inauguration himself.
Certain streets and districts have started to adopt the trend, like rue Old Nice and especially rue Bonaparte in the Port, known as the ‘Petit Marais’ after the chic legendary quarter in Paris. Nice has even started a ‘Gay Welcoming’ program to sensitize businesses to the advantages of this discerning clientele, and has promoted a list of gay-friendly hotels and restaurants.
There are still occasional instances of gay targeted vandalism and violence, the latest being last April when a public kiss incited a beating, but these types of crimes are not only happening with less frequency, but they are also less tolerated: After that last incident, the gay community came out in force for a 200-person “kiss in” to protest the violence.
Actually, when you think of it, Nice has had a gay vibe for years: Nice’s most famous hotel, Le Negresco, has displayed a giant Niki de Saint Phalle statue rotating in the middle of its ballroom, for over a decade!
Nice-Matin: Quand Nice fait son Coming Out