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Gay South of France

Gay South of France

A guide to the Gay South of France

Gay Provence, Languedoc and the Côte d'Azur


The south of France has always been a firm favourite with gay and lesbian visitors – with tourists traditionally flocking to romantic Provence or the glamorous Côte d’Azur. But the southern end of the coast, Languedoc-Roussillon, from Marseille to the Spanish border, has become increasingly popular – especially with gay tourists looking for a more traditional French experience.


France has done a reasonably good job of reining in development along its coast - unlike Spain. The Côte d'Azur has been the playground of the rich and famous for decades, so it has naturally avoided the ugly tower blocks that have ruined much of the Spanish coastline. Prices there, unfortunately, can be pretty ridiculous - fueled by spendthrift Russian, Arab and Chinese billionaires. The influx of millionaire-money means that the Côte d'Azur has a more international feel, and so can feel less authentically French. It is fun though if you enjoy a bit of glamour and bling.


Head into the hills and you reach Provence. The countryside is extremely beautiful, with Cyprus pines punctuating vine and lavender-covered hills, and pretty villages sprouting up here and there with their terracotta rooves and towering church spires. But again, some of the authenticity has been lost over the years - some villages are comprised almost entirely of holiday homes - which fall empty after the summer when their owners go back to Belgium, Germany and the UK.


Discover the 'real' South of France

Should you want a more authentic experience, you may want to explore the still relatively unspoilt Languedoc-Roussillon region. Whereas Provence and the Côte d’Azur are more Italian influenced, Languedoc is more Spanish-influenced in terms of its culture and food. The area also offers some beautiful cities – such as Montpellier, Béziers, Narbonne, Perpignan and Carcassonne – and gorgeous towns such as Uzès and Pézenas.


There are a number of gay guesthouses and bed and breakfasts in the Languedoc. Some are on the coast, whereas some are inland – in the wine-growing areas. (Languedoc, until recently, was the world’s largest wine-producing area.) The coast here isn’t as pretty or glamorous as the Côte d’Azur – and areas such as Cap d’Agde are quite built up. Just 30 minutes in from the coast, however, the hills start to undulate, covered with vineyards and studded with pretty, wine-making villages. The beaches are only half an hour’s drive from this hinterland area. Gay visitors staying at a gay-only or gay-friendly hotel, guesthouse or bed and breakfast in these area can then escape the crowds of the beaches and head back to the relative calm of the hills – which also offer superb walking, wine-tasting and historic sights.


The Cote d’Azur offers a beautiful coastline, glamorous coastal towns and a certain amount of ‘bling’. There are a number of gay-only hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs along the coast. It isn’t cheap however, and anywhere nice will mean a hefty bill at the end of your stay. The Cote d’Azur’s main towns, – Nice, Cannes, Antibes, St Tropez and Fréjus – all offer excellent standards of food, good bars, and a decent gay nightlife.


Getting There

Low-cost flights to the south of France have boomed in recent years. So if you live in Europe, or have taken a flight from outside Europe into one of its main cities (London, Paris, Barcelona etc…) – then getting to the South of France is very easy. Gay travelers have a number of airports to choose from – all served by low-cost airlines such as RyanAir, Easy Jet, BMI Baby, Jet2 and FlyBe. From east to west they include Nice, Toulon, Marseille, Avignon, Nîmes, Montpellier, Béziers, Carcassonne and Perpignan. Remember also that Barcelona is not far from Languedoc – and so Barcelona and Girona are good airports to use. Toulouse, Rodez, Cuneo and Turin in Italy are also possibilities.


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Gay South of France

Gay Montpellier and gay beaches


Events in the South of France


French culture has always been quite relaxed about sexuality - and the country has led the way with gay rights within Europe in many respects. The south of France - playground of the rich and their artist friends - has always welcomed gay travellers, and many of the beaches along the coast have gay sections. Naturist beaches abound - so if letting it all hang out is your thing, you'll find plenty of good opportunities. The towns and cities of Provence, the Côte d'Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon offer a pretty good gay scene - with plenty of gay bars and saunas.


France's 2nd 'gay capital' - Montpellier

Montpellier is the gay capital of the south of France (and said to be the 2nd gayest city in France after Paris). It's relaxed squares and open-minded student population have made it a mecca for many French gays looking for a better life. In fact, the city ranks top in polls of where the French would most like to live - thanks to its beautiful pedestrianised centre and proximity to great beaches. Maguelone beach, a favourite with the gay crowd, is only 10 minutes away - and offers some cool beach bar-restaurants and a naked section.


Where to stay?

When searching for gay places to stay in the south of France, first think about where you want to be situated. Provence offers beautiful scenery and pretty towns and villages. It is, however, relatively expensive – both in terms of accommodation but also in terms of restaurants. The food here is generally very good. Aix-en-Provence is a good place to start – being the largest town in Provence (unless you count Marseille on the coast). It’s a little formal and stuffy – but very beautiful with lots of nice restaurants and a few gay bars.


If the Côte d'Azur is your thing - maybe try Nice, which offers the biggest gay scene at the end of the coast. Cap d'Antibe is lovely, as is St Tropez and Cannes. Again, prices here will be higher for pretty much everything - and a lot of the beaches along the Côte d'Azur are small and stony as opposed to the huge sandy beaches of Languedoc. Marseille is interesting to visit - especially since its waterfront has been re-developed - but perhaps not the best place to base yourself. Toulon we'd give a miss.


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If you’re looking for gay hotels South of France, there are plenty of exclusively-gay hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses on offer in this part of the country – and a huge number of 'actively gay-friendly' accommodation.


Some are French-owned, and others owned by non-French. Most are gay rather than lesbian. Most offer a pool – due to the hot weather in summer – and many are clothing-optional, either around the pool area or within the entire property. (It’s best to check the website of the gay hotel or B&B in question to check whether they allow nudity at the property before you come.)


The quality of the gay accommodation offered in the south of France can differ quite widely. Some gay hotels are located in châteaux – and very smartly decorated and furnished – with prices to match. Others are far more relaxed, but with varying levels of cleanliness and facilities.


We can recommend the excellent Cinq & Sept gay guesthouse in Languedoc - which is 25 minutes from beaches and located in a traditional wine-making village. And The Lotus Tree - with its gorgeous views and relaxed gardens.


There are quite a few hotels, guest-houses and B&Bs run by gay couples that aren’t exclusively gay. These offer the most gay-friendly option for gay travelers, as your hosts are likely to know about any gay bars, clubs, beaches and cruising areas nearby.


As with accommodation anywhere in Europe – knowing how gay-friendly establishments are can be tricky. Your best bet is to checkout the reviews by gay travellers on the Gay Welcome website. Remember, also, that you can always just rent a holiday apartment of villa in the south of France.


NEXT: Top South of France Links >

Links to the best South of France links

It's impossible for any website to list the very latest bars, clubs, restaurants, saunas, beaches, magazines, sights, events etc... So rather than try and fail, we've listed below those specialist sources of information that stay on top of each of these things.


Best gay hook-up websites

If you’re looking to meet up with locals in the South of France - try CitéGay, Planet Romeo, Gaydar or Grindr.

Planet Romeo




Best tourist information sites

For more on what to do in the South of France - check out the excellent, Visit Provence, and French Riviera Tourism sites.

Visit ProvenceFrench Riviera Tourism


Best gay and non-gay events

If you’re looking to see what’s on in the south of France, check out Gay Welcome's Gay Events section.

Gay Welcome


Best gay and non-gay events

You'll find good food throughout the south of France. To find the best restaurants in the region generally, try TripAdvisor.



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