Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gay Cruising in Mont Boron Park

Cruising in the Mont Boron Park in Nice is really no secret; word has been out about it for as long as I can remember. 

And although this type of gay cruising is not my thing, I do get a lot of email requests asking specifically about this area of Nice.

I have only been to Fort du Mont Alban in the Mont Boron Municipal Park a couple of times myself, usually to go for a hike, and because I have an interest in the architecture of historic buildings.

What I can do is give you directions on how to get there and my thoughts on what I have experienced on Mont Boron.
What you get into at the park will be strictly your business.

Mont Boron is situated at the eastern edge of Nice and is often referred to by the locals as being their version of the Hollywood Hills because of the exquisite, private villas dotted up and down the hillside.  Even Sir Elton John has a large estate on Mont Boron.

Within the park on Mont Boron are about 11kms of trails winding around one side of the hill to the other on which you can go for a bike ride, hike, or even find a spot for a picnic.  It is a fantastic way to spend the afternoon if you wanted to step away from the city for a while.

My trips to the top of Mont Boron have always been by way of a friend’s car and on the times I have gone, we have taken a different route each time.

If you are driving by way of the port area (which is on the edge of Mont Boron), you will start to see signage noting which direction you need to go to head into the park.   You will also see signage leading you to the top of the park by way of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Another option to get there is by bus.   I would take the #14 bus from the stop right next to Galeries Lafayette in central Nice on rue Sacha Guitry.  The bus will take you to Mont Boron where you can walk towards the fortress area, it runs approximately every 20-30 minutes and will easily get you there and back.

Be sure to ask the driver when the last bus comes down the hill from the park.

From what I have seen and heard, once you do get to the top of Mont Boron, people tend to start cruising near the fortress.

This fortress I am talking about is the Fort du Mont Alban.   You will not be able to miss this place, although closed; this massive 16th century structure is commanding.  There are plans with the city of Nice to convert the fort into a contemporary art museum in the future, but for now you can still stroll around the battlements.

The panoramic views from this location are out of this world.  On one side of the hill you have the city of Nice where you can also see out towards Antibes and Cannes.  With the other side of the hill you can see out towards Monaco overlooking Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat with Villefranche-sur-Mer nestled below.
It is breathtaking!

Since there are no specific trails that I know of in which to follow, my advice would be to walk towards the communications tower heading south away from the fort overlooking the city of Nice.

The last time my friend and I went for a drive there, it was starting to get misty outside like it was going to rain any minute (which is evident in my pictures).

We were not even 50 feet from his parked car near the fortress and we could already see men on various splintered paths looking for some action.  It wasn’t flagrant, but it was enough that our gaydar had kicked in.

We had planned to just go for a short hike around the area, I was going to attempt to take some pictures from where we were overlooking Nice but the weather got worse quickly so we just headed back to the car and left the grounds.

You could see other men too, heading out off the trails and either getting back into their cars or hopping on their motorbikes because of the weather.  We kind of made a joke about it in the car when we were leaving how everyone was coming out of the woodwork.

I would say, even if you do not find what you’re looking for, Mont Boron is still a great place to get some fresh air, discover the fortress and you cannot beat the views.

Just don’t spoke the horses if you know what I mean.  Be aware of your surroundings and keep in mind that families go into the park as well.
Be safe and have fun!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feature 1: Marta Szczesniak - Photographer

The French Riviera belongs to a part of the world where artists are appreciated for their skills and abilities.  They are free in a supportive and encouraging environment to produce very unique types of work in a variety of fields and disciplines, be it visual art, dance, music, literature or any other form of art.

Traveling through the cities and villages of the Cote d’Azur, you will come across all forms of visual art displayed openly in places like public parks, as part of the architecture in buildings and of course within the numerous galleries and museums in the area.  You’ll even find visually striking art inside various banks.

There seems to be ample community support for these endeavors, to the point that everyday places are infused with a degree of art.  Here, one can have their work showcased in a nurturing environment, whether they are painters, sculptures or photographers.

In keeping with this spirit, I thought, since I seem to have a very large, worldwide readership, why not start introducing these artists from time to time to the rest of the world?

The first person I would like to introduce is my friend Marta Szczesniak.  Marta’s photographic work is widely recognized not only in the Cote d’Azur, but also throughout France, including Paris.

Whenever I might happen to be on Facebook and see that my friend Marta has posted a new set of photographs, I instantly get excited to look through them all to see what kind of project she has been working on next.

I am always left inspired.

If this is your first visit to France and perhaps the French Riviera, have you ever thought of doing something different, like say spending a fun day in a photo shoot at one of the many luxury locations in the region?

You could update your modeling portfolio to reflect a different part of the world, or maybe you just got married and would like some honeymoon vacation photos.  Perhaps you have a corporate project or function that requires a photographer.
Just to throw a few ideas out there.

Marta has been a good friend of mine for quite some time now.  I find myself thinking back to our first meeting as she had left quite an impression.

We had arranged to meet outside the train station in Beaulieu-sur-Mer one sunny afternoon to go for a walk in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. We wanted to get to know one another better as we had previously been communicating mainly through Facebook, which is how we initially met online, as I had “liked” one of her photographs I came across.

As I walked out of the train station, I knew who she was immediately by her bright smile, her long flowing hair, and the bounce in her step as she crossed the street and we excitedly approached each other.  I was struck by how naturally beautiful she was.  You know how you sometimes get a good feeling inside when you first meet someone?  This was my first feeling when I met Marta.  It just felt right and it was an instant friendship. You’ll find she also brings this sense of brightness to her work.

I have never known someone to take their passion for their work so seriously, yet also combine that passion in getting the perfect job done with an element of fun.

Marta has been living in the South of France since 2006 and has been working as a professional photographer since 2005 but her love of photography started long before that as she remembers the hours spent watching her father develop his prints in a makeshift darkroom when she was a child.  From there, the rest just came to her by second nature.

I’ve never known Marta to walk away from a challenge.  In fact I see her constantly evolving.  Every time I look through yet another new set of her stunning photographs, I’m learning more about Marta and which direction she is taking.  Marta is certainly not afraid to try new photographic techniques, projects and is always upgrading her skills as she moves forward.

When Marta looks at a potentially photographic venue or area, she takes into account the light, character and full surroundings before confirming a location.  Having worked in many parts of France, she knows instinctively many areas that would best suit a photography session.

As you can see from this small selection of Marta’s work, she has done everything from modeling shoots to architecture and interior shots, and has an extensive and impressive list of press credentials.  I don’t even have enough room here to include her already-extensive work for weddings and corporate events!

Each shoot is meticulously planned and organized no matter how big or small, yet there is still flexibility in her work that helps keep a shoot fresh and exciting.
Marta has a vast contact list of stylists and makeup artists, etc., to help bring a shoot together.

As for photography equipment, you’ll find Marta comes well prepared because of her project ranges. The list of equipment she has is quite extensive.  In our conversations it’s not unusual to hear about a new lens she is working with or how she has mastered yet another computer program.


Marta is currently based out of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, but it’s not unusual for her to work on projects in Cannes, Nice, Monaco and all parts in between, with many jobs taking her to Paris.


Marta is not only a dear friend of mine, but she has a great heart and she puts that along with her other skills and efforts into her passion for photography.

Feel free to contact Marta for any work or ideas you might have in mind by the links I have attached here:
Whether you are an individual, couple or even a corporation, Marta will put your mind at ease and do the best work possible for you.