Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cap d'Ail - Mala Beach Coastal Trail

One of my favorite things to do in the South of France is to go for long walks or hikes, especially along one of the many seaside trails, and if it ends up taking me to a beach or two, all the better.

Cap d’Ail near Monaco is one of the best places for just such a trail walk, it is also one of the most calming and beautiful places in the French Riviera.  And here you have a couple of options, you can head towards Plage Mala (beach) while taking in all the amazing scenery along the way, and then, if you felt like it, you could follow back along the same Mala coastal footpath (Le Sentier du Littoral) and walk into the Principality of Monaco in no time at all.

This is also one of the easiest seaside trails to navigate; the only area that requires a bit more attention is when you are on the last leg towards Mala Beach itself.  The end trail section there is snuggled tightly against exquisite estates with plenty of stairs, literally on the edge of the sea, and it is also has some of the most breathtaking scenery.

With any walk like this I wouldn’t recommend wearing flip flops, but some good athletic footwear and don’t forget your sunscreen and water as there are no shops close by to pick up such supplies.

Arriving to Cap d’Ail by train (the last stop before Monaco coming from the direction of Nice) seems to be the most convenient way to travel as finding a parking spot can take forever, especially during high season.

Stepping off the train, you will notice Cap d’Ail is a very quiet, almost heavenly location.   Make your way behind the train station and turn left to exit the grounds.
You will notice immediately on your left hand side, a sign near some stairs posting the direction towards the trail, just head down the stairs, through the tunnel and go towards the sea.

The tunnel may look dodgy but is very safe and for my first visit at least, provided a sense of adventure to see what is on the other side of this very serene area.
Once on the other side of the tunnel, you will not be able to miss the footpath along the sea.  To head towards Plage Mala, go left towards Restaurant La Pinede and take the public trail down towards the foot path and stay on your right hand side walking west towards the direction of Nice, this will take you to Plage Mala in about 20 minutes to half an hour, depending on how fast you walk.  The only thing that might slow you down is stopping to take pictures along the way.

If you wanted to go towards Monaco, then once down the walkway from the restaurant, just turn left and it is at minimum, an hour’s walk away but given the beautiful surroundings, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

In either direction you are going to see some interesting vegetation, alongside some wonderfully manicured estates, you will also notice how the rock formations have changed because of the constant pounding of the waves.

It should also be noted that if it is a very windy and/or a stormy day, the trail will likely be closed off to the public because the waves tend to crash over the concrete footpath.

But back to Plage Mala for a moment, the beach itself is of good size, clean and surrounded by more of that crystal clear Mediterranean blue water.  And although this isn’t technically a gay beach, it is certainly gay friendly.  I don’t know of any places to hook up with anyone around there, but there are some very short off trails along the whole beach area.

All I know is that every time I have made my way to the beach, within minutes you get that feeling you are being checked out.  The last time I went there to swim and tan, I easily spotted a couple of guys who kept looking my way and the next thing I know we were chatting one another up and made plans to hit a couple of nightclubs in Nice later that night.

So at least the beach isn’t cliquey and people seem to be very friendly with each other.  It’s an absolutely stunning location with majestic villas perched precariously on the edges of cliffs overlooking the sea, who couldn’t be anything but happy being there?

On the Mala footpath, people seem to take their time, enjoying their walk or jog, and nodding a pleasant “Bonjour!” as they pass you by.  There are even a few beach side restaurants at Mala Beach itself and near the train station at the sea for you to take a break and get something to eat and drink.  It’s also just as easy to bring a picnic lunch and find a spot along the coastal footpath to take in the afternoon sun and relax.

If you are deciding to continue on to Monaco, it will be obvious to know when you are almost there as you will start to see some of the luxury condominium blocks in Fontvieille in the distance and shortly you will arrive at Plage Marquet just a few blocks west of the border with Monaco at Fontvielle, which gives you another great little beach to check out after your walk.

Personally, I find Cap d’Ail and Plage Mala lovely places to visit any time of year!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Le Code

Want to live out your deepest, darkest fantasies?  Then head to Le Code Private Hard Club Extreme in Nice.  No joke.  Le Code is a straight up, no bullshit, hard core, sex club.  But if you are new at all this, don’t let that scare you off from going.

Although Le Code can’t really be considered (by North American standards) a bathhouse, it is a true sex club, and a refreshing, upfront, no attitude one at that.  Very cool.

In operation for over a year now, Le Code can be found very close to Garibaldi Square and Le Petit Marais district of Nice at: 4 rue Papon.

It’s very easy to find and it’ll be obvious you are there when you see the signage and discreet inner entrance.  Just press the buzzer next to the door to gain entry and once inside, pay the admission where you will then be buzzed through a second set of doors to the front lounge and front desk area.

Once you are in the front lounge, a young, hot attendant will direct you next to the front desk area where he will pass you a plastic type crate through a square hole in the wall about waist level height and it’s here you can disrobe as much or as little as you want to put inside the crate.

For Naked Hard Night, or any theme night, it’s a good idea to follow with what is going on, but there also seems to be no pressure if you don’t feel completely at ease with being totally nude or haven’t brought along your best fetish gear.  Once all your belongings are in the crate, the attendant will give you your wristband marked with your crate number on it, and then the place is yours to explore.

My first experience with Le Code happened to be on their Naked Hard Night, for some reason I didn’t expect to see men nude as soon as I was buzzed into the front lounge area, but it was nice to see everyone in their comfort zone about it all.

I think part of the adventure of a place like this is not being 100% sure of your surroundings which then tends to lead to more exploring.  So now without giving everything away let me just say that although Le Code is not grand in size, it can contain a myriad of action over the main ground level floor, then take the spiral staircase down the to the lower level where it seems most of the fast and feisty sex can be found in the prison cell area, sling rooms and other kinky spots.

As in any good club of this type, there is still a sense of safety and cleanliness throughout, its the clientele's mannerisms here that are taken up a notch or two.  And unlike many regular bathhouses, you won’t find the men at Le Code endlessly parading around hallways hoping for Mr. Perfect to come along, or having loud group gossip sessions in some corner.  That being said, no still means no.

Management of Le Code seem to have the patrons in mind, by keeping their club in decent shape, providing information on safe sex practices, along with condoms and lube that can be found throughout the space.  Information about upcoming events and such are constantly being updated on their website, Facebook page and on Twitter.

The charge to gain entry to Le Code is very economical, with free entry given to many if you are under a certain age and on certain times of the month.  The crowd is very diverse and those with all types of fetishes will easily fit into this environment, I’ve seen the pretty boys hooking up with the bad boys along with every other age, shape and size of a man in Le Code.  For some reason here, there doesn’t seem to be a down time, the place always seems to be active.

At Le Code there are ever changing nightly events to suit everyone’s need and desires, here you could easily surprise yourself and discover something you perhaps never knew you could ever get into.

From the first minute I met the staff at Le Code, I found them to be really on top of their jobs and incredibly helpful, especially if it’s your first time at the establishment.  I think its a good sign in a club like this if the customers feel at ease chatting away with the staff as they work behind the front counter.

Le Code is open seven days a week, check out the website for hours:

Le Code

Being such a unique space and with such a definite following,  I can see Le Code being a part of the community for some time to come.

Photos courtesy of Le Code

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hotel Splendid - Cannes

An obvious distinguished landmark in Cannes, and a beautiful looking one at that, the Hotel Splendid has captured many a heart.

This soothing white, 4-star hotel with its gracious touches of curves, wrought iron and light awnings give a feeling of romance, and once inside you’ll find there is a warmth and character that can be hard to try to emulate in the newer and more modern hotels of today.

The choice to stay here was not planned; in fact I was out at a friend’s birthday dinner party in Le Suquet.  After the dinner and then drinks at a couple of local bars, Hotel Splendid seemed to be beckoning me to book a room.

It was very late when I checked in and I did have to be up early to leave Cannes the next day so I did not have a chance to see everything the hotel has to offer, but being very happy with what I did experience, I think it is worth a mention and of course a stay.

Sitting at the foot of the port and across from the Palais des Festivals, Hotel Splendid is conveniently located…to everything.  The address of the hotel is: 4 rue Felix Faure.

You will be surrounded by a vast amount of fabulous restaurants to choose from, along with shopping to suit every taste and budget.  Need to catch a bus or a train?  It’s all within walking distance.

Being late, and since I didn’t book a room ahead of time, the front desk receptionist was gracious and able to give me a great classic double room.  I found that not only is the outside of the hotel enticing, the interiors are elegant with a touch of old world charm and certainly not ostentatious.

My room was the perfect size with high ceilings, plenty of closet space and very comfortable with a large, fully stocked bathroom.  For some reason in Europe I have this thing for checking out the size of the bathtub compared to a North American size, and the one in my hotel room was of normal North American size.

And even though I had to get up early, my sleep in what seemed to be a very soundproof room was one of the best I’ve had in such a cozy double bed.
Hotel Splendid has been a part of Cannes wonderfully long history since 1871, something of which I love.  I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to stay at this hotel, if you get the chance and need a place to stay in Cannes, book yourself a room at Hotel Splendid.