Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dolly Party

Stepping off the tram with a mass of people also entering Garibaldi Square, you could hear the music pumping a couple of blocks away and see the excited crowds quickly joining the street party in the Place du Pin area of Nice, otherwise also known as “le petit Marais”.

Dolly Party

This was my first Dolly Party (certainly not my last) and only the third time the City of Nice has allowed such a large outdoor street event of this kind.  The Dolly Party concept has been around the French Riviera for some time now, the organizers hold these parties in public areas such as beaches, streets and nightclubs, and they are not to be missed!

The underlying theme for everyone attending this Dolly Party was to wear white, and there was a sea of white as far as you could see.  Heading into the streets filled with thousands of people of every age, weight, gender, and sexual orientation…everyone was making their way to take in a truly amazing Dolly Party experience!

This Dolly Party was presented by the Cote d'Azur LGBT Community Center in Nice, the AGLAE and L' EuroPrideLGP Marseille also made a special trip to help promote EuroPride 2013 by providing information, handing out buttons, stickers and selling t-shirts.  There was also a AIDS awareness vehicle set up so that you could get tested, ask questions and get more general information about safe sex practices.

Various DJ’s were in attendance such as Sebastien Coda, Nicolas Derman, Richard Vegas and Laurent N who certainly kept the crowd dancing all night long.  And as the DJ’s played, on the same stage the multimedia artist Patrick Moya spent the evening doing live paintings!

Most of the restaurants I had seen, such as Gossip Bar, decided for the event to remove all the tables from inside their restaurants to the outdoors to become a part of the Dolly Party atmosphere and at times it wasn’t unusual to see the overflow crowds dancing inside the restaurants since the tables were no longer in the way.  Other business owners, such as Malabar Station Cruising Bar, had closed off the play area inside of their club and opened other doors to sell beer and wine at a very reasonable price out on their terrace.

The participation from the whole of the community was amazing!  You would lose track of time as you made your way through the crowds to see what might be happening from one end of the Dolly Party to the other, I’ve never seen so many smiling faces and it was very easy to meet new people, dance with others and run into old friends.

If you ever get the chance to go to a Dolly Party, do it!  It will be one of the best times you’ve ever had!Most photos courtesy of Jean-Michel Deroc.  Merci!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Plage de la Batterie

I have hesitated in writing anything about Plage de la Batterie, the nude beach located between Cannes and Golfe-Juan because it seems every year I kept hearing rumors that it was closed, or just not that popular anymore.

What I can tell you is that I have gone by the beach of late and it’s obviously open, and two close friends of mine who really like to go to naturist beaches have also confirmed that information.

The miscommunication could've been because a couple of routes previously used to get to the beach itself have been closed, one of those routes was by walking over the railway tracks, which makes sense for safety reasons for why that route would be closed and people then thinking the whole beach was closed.

So here is how to get there and what to kind of expect.  If you are driving, from Cannes, head east on route N7 for several kms, Plage de la Batterie is just before the town of Golfe-Juan.  You will know when you are there when you see a Shell Station on the north (left) side of the road, and just before the station there is a parking lot.

This is where you can park your car but I would advise you to get there early as it fills up very quickly, especially on the weekends.

If you are taking the bus from Cannes, take bus #200 on the coastal route and get off at Batterie stop, it costs one euro to take the bus one way, tell the bus driver when you get on which stop you would like to get off.

Once you arrive to the parking area next to the Total Gas Station (with red signage), you will see a staircase to the right of the entrance to the car park that will take you down to the tunnel under the roads leading directly to the mixed, nude beach.

Plage de la Batterie has many sandy parts to it and the beach itself can hold about 80 people, it's small but nice.  As with any beach, especially a nude one, the popularity of it can vary, this one though has a steady mix of people and by mix I mean gay and straight people go to this beach.

Nudity isn’t mandatory but most people there are naked, it seems gay men like to frequent either end of the beach with straight people preferring to stay in the central part of the beach, it’s also not unusual to see people perched on one of the surrounding rocks with the waves of the sea lapping against it.
Entrance to Plage de la Batterie

Another thing worth mentioning is many people in the area have been coming to Plage de la Batterie for years, older couples and even families that know each other, especially on the weekends.  So if you were expecting complete discretion, it’s not likely going to happen.

If you are in the area, check out Plage de la Batterie!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cap d’Antibes

As grand as it looks, is as grand as it feels.

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

About a week ago, a fab showbiz journalist friend of mine was sharing with me some of her stories about various celebrities that she has at one time or another seen or hung out with at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes, so for fun we got the idea to go to the hotel for a look around and have a drink near the pool in the Eden-Roc restaurant and lounge area.

As we drove up to the hotel my first impression was that this will be a wonderful experience.

And it's certainly easy to say that the moment you arrive on the 20 acre plus property, you feel unrushed, relaxed and as though you are in some sort of fairytale land.

Before we even made our way into the hotel, we could see that everything we were surrounded by was absolutely stunning and refined, and as we walked into the 5-Star hotel itself, it just got better, this is clean-cut, top of the line luxury.  We were warmly greeted by the staff no matter where we went, and they always seemed to be working at something to keep everything in top form and ready to go.

I loved thinking about how many historic figures and celebrities in the past have walked through the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc’s doors, and how remarkably beautiful the place was, it feels like it has good bones, is strongly stated, yet there seemed to be just enough feminine touches to the décor as well to bring a light softness, and I’ve heard that is carried over into each of the hotel rooms.

In the bar area, just through the lobby, my friend told me plenty of stories of impromptu parties that have happened in that part of the hotel, where such and such major celebrity would be sitting and who was saying what with whom in conversation.  It felt like I was getting some real insider info and I can only imagine how much fun these parties were to attend.

After leaving the bar and heading outside towards the Eden-Roc restaurant and pool, while standing on the landing looking towards the sea with the expansive grounds, you just wanted to pinch yourself.  The view seemed like something out of a movie or super glossy magazine.  Even the yachts in the distance almost seemed too perfectly set up in the view, like it was a prop or something, but no, this was real life.

As we continued, we really noticed how immaculate the grounds are, and it seems as though every single tree no matter how low or high from the ground is manicured, it is so nice to stroll throughout the trails, past the tennis courts and gardens with the scent of flowers and eucalyptus in the air, along with feeling the slight breeze coming off the sea.

The big, wide, stone path really stands out, like a landmark for the hotel; it has even been used as a runway for one of Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel fashion shows, as odd as it sounds, I was thrilled to be walking on it.

Once we made our way down the path and inside the Eden-Roc restaurant and near the pool area, everything felt cool, crisp and pristine.  The walls of the entrance in the lower level is currently lined with small photographs of the who’s who in the world that have been to the hotel, and although the pool looked extremely tempting and the guests swimming and tanning seemed happy and content, our plan for the day was to just have a glass or two of Rosé wine and take in the surroundings.  The atmosphere was fresh, relaxing and the service was top notch!
If you have the chance, book into this gay-friendly hotel, for one of the most opulent experiences of your life and then Facebook everything about it to make everyone back home uber envious!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

La Petite Plage

If you happen to be in Juan-les-Pins, and are looking for a place to eat and perhaps have some drinks, one place I’ve been to a several times already is La Petite Plage.   Set along the seafront, this gay-friendly beach restaurant certainly draws in a crowd; in fact it’s so popular that it is open year round.

La Petite Plage
La Petite Plage can easily be found along Boulevard Guillaumont, amongst the other seaside restaurants close to rue Saint-Honorat.
Stepping off the busy boardwalk down into the restaurant area, you will find yourself on the main terrace being welcomed by genuine smiles coming from the gorgeous staff, and beyond that is the beach where sunbathers are enjoying a drink while they lounge in the sun, with the gentle sea lapping practically at their feet.

As evening sets in the lounge chairs are neatly stacked away and tables are set up on the actual beach and all the tables in the restaurant are decorated with candles making for a very romantic atmosphere, especially as you are watching the sun set.
It seems no matter what time of day or night you arrive, this restaurant is very beach chic, this is not some little shanty trying to make it through the high season, yet you’ll find Le Petite Plage won’t break your bank account either.

I’ve been told that sometimes there will be a DJ spinning off to the side to add to the beachside experience and it’s certainly easy enough to figure out who owns La Petite Plage as the charming, handsome owner (with an extremely hot son) also likes to play a selection of music from time to time.
The menu selection is vast and varied, and although I’m not what you would consider a ‘foodie’, there seemed to be a lot of delicious items to choose from, along with the daily suggested menu, the food comes with a bit of a twist too, as a friend of mine had a hamburger but it had sautéed foie gras on top of the burger.  Really, everything we ate was wonderful and filling.

The same goes for the selection of drinks, we enjoyed our wine but one evening a couple of friends were changing up their drink choices and my mouth still waters visualizing the Pina Coladas they ordered at one point.
It’s been some time since I have seen staff work so hard to maintain and keep the flow of a restaurant going, on my first visit I immediately noticed the staff all had these super tight bodies and I just took that to be what it can be like on the French Riviera with many people being fit and into the outdoors, I also noticed how cheerful they all were, constantly on top of things and helpful.

The second visit confirmed it for me, taking care of the guest needs at each table, especially those staff working on the beach would get you toned legs in no time, add to that carrying the trays to and from the kitchen would totally work out your upper body.  These boys were tight!  And I’ve got to say, the women were hot as well!
A sign to me that a restaurant must doing well is when I see a consistent flow of patrons and those patrons are leaving with a smile on their face.  At La Petite Plage they don’t treat you like a tourist who will go to their restaurant once and that is it, this is a family run business and they treat you like you are a guest at their home, it’s more personal.

There is something wonderful about being in the French Riviera, spending time at a great restaurant and seeing groups of people laughing and chatting away, yet it is also nice when there is room for couples to enjoy an intimate meal and drinks.
All this and more you can experience for  yourself at La Petite Plage.