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Lou Queernaval in Nice, discover France’s first gay carnival

Lou Queernaval in Nice, discover France’s first gay carnival

Feather boas…glitter…cray cray make up…sexy topless men…

This is Lou Queernaval, France’s first gay carnival and part of the famous Nice Carnival.

We spent 3 days dancing and partying through the streets of the city celebrating Lou Queernaval clad in our medieval outfits.


The carnival originated in the Middle Ages as a festival authorised by the church, allowing anyone wearing a mask to safely ridicule those in power.

Anyone without a mask got flogged with stockings filled with flour.

Celebrateing Queernaval France's first gay canrival

Which one of these Lou Queernaval boys should be flogged with bags of flour?

This is the time of year when Christians go crazy with overindulgence, eat loads of meat, fatty foods and party like mad before the 40 days of fasting for Lent begins.

Sebastien discovering Nice food during Queernaval France's first gay carnival

Sebastien’s greedy pre Lent plans at the Acchiardo restaurant in Nice’s Old Town

Nice’s carnival is one of the most popular in the world, attracting millions to this side of the French Riviera to enjoy 2 weeks of parties, parades, incredible outfits, lively fun atmosphere and loads of fun.

Lou Queernaval in Nice part of Nice carnival

The iconic Apollo statue of the city proudly watching the Nice carnival processions as the King of the Carnival marvels back at his naked torso

In 2015, Lou Queernaval, started as one of the events during the Nice Carnival, making it the first and only carnival in France and one of the fewest in the world.

Lou translates to the in the local Niçois dialect.

Queernaval host Erwann leading France's first gay carnival

Erwann, the presenter and one of the organisers of Lou Queernaval standing proud with his Nomadic Princes, ready to take the stage and lead the processions



Absolutely everyone is welcome at Lou Queernaval.

Families also join in the fun.

Many locals come out to celebrate and enjoy this unique cultural experience with their children dressed up.

Family friendly atmosphere of Queernaval gay carnival France

These 2 bundles of trouble joined Lou Queernaval dressed up as iPods


Most of the events during the Nice Carnival are paid and ticketed. However, Lou Queernaval is completely free, open to all and waiting for you, yes YOU, to grab your outfit and join in the fun!

Queernaval gay carnival France topless angel with Stef Seb

Join in the fun with the Lou Queernaval boys…which outfit tickles your fancy?


We stayed at the jazzy Ellington Hotel, ideally located near the main shopping roads and walking distance to the beach, gay bars and the quaint Old Town of the city.

It’s also conveniently located close to Place Massena where all the Lou Queernaval action happens, so you can pop back to change out of your outfit after the carnival before hitting the after parties in Nice’s gay bars.

To find out more, check out our guide to the gay friendly hotels of Nice.

Nice Old Town Stef Seb

Change of costume and heading out to Nice’s gay bars for the Lou Queernaval after parties


As well as Lou Queernaval, Nice has a thriving gay scene. There are plenty of bars and clubs to keep the gay boys happy here. 

And did we mention those very pretty Niçois boys waiting to welcome and party with you?

Discovering Lou Queernaval in Nice with sexy Nicoise local boy

This pretty Niçois waiter at the Acchiardo restaurant modelling this plate of yummy beef duabe and merda de can before we all headed to Le Glam club

Gay bars of Nice

There are a handful of popular hangouts throughout the city to suit all tastes and even sexual preferences. We love to go to gay bars to socialise, meet friends, get giddy with cocktails and laugh along with the drag queens. Here’s a few of our favourites:

  • Le Bar Bitch and it’s sister bar Le Bar Butch opposite: really fun hangouts to get the evening cocktails started. They usually feature a few hilarious drag shows (in both English and French). After it shuts at midnight, most head over to Le Glam or Le Six.
Bar Butch Bitch gay bars Nice

Sebastien deciding if he’s more Bar Bitch or Bar Butch

  • Red Kafe: good to hangout during the day and usually have a happy hour everyday from 6-9pm. On weekends they have drag stars like Miss Koka making an entrance.
  • Les Garçon: this is a restaurant not a bar, but worth mentioning because it’s at the heart of the gay scene and is gay owned so attracts a largely LGBT crowd. It’s the perfect place for dinner before painting the Old Town pink.
Les Garcons gay restaurant Nice

Kidnapping one of the pretty waiters at Les Garçons restaurant in Nice with our friend Josh

Gay clubs in Nice

  • Le Glam: a very popular gay club where most people will end up. It has themed nights, drag shows and cabarets. This year it was the venue for the Lou Queernaval after party.
Discovering gay carnival in Nice at Le Glam afterparty

Exchanging make up tips with our new friends at the Le Glam Lou Queernaval after party

  • Rainbow Power at the High Club: High Club is a large mixed club on the Promenade des Anglais but becomes very gay when it hosts the Rainbow Power.
  • Le Six: set in a slightly smaller venue and has popular nights from Tuesday to Saturday running through the night and sometimes featuring famous DJs. When we were there, the model/DJ Manuel Blanche was in charge of the decks.
Manuel Blanche Nomadic Boys Queernaval Nice Carnival

That moment we met French DJ and model Manuel Blanche in Nice who rocked Le Six


Lou Queernaval is one of many party parades during Nice Carnival.

The Parade of Lights are famous ticketed evening events at Place Massena, repeated several times during the fortnight, where the King and Queen figurines of the Carnival lead a procession of vibrant floats.

Light Show Parade one of events of Nice Carnival

The evening Light Show during the Nice Carnival

Another Nice Carnival must see gem are the colourful Flower Parades, which take place during the daytime at the Promenade des Anglais.

The floats go around with costumed models throwing around 100,000 flowers to an enthusiastic crowd. But some of those outfits, absolutely stunning!

Flower Parade during Queernaval first gay carnival

Dramatic outfits and flower showers during the famous Flower Parade

You really can’t help being awed by some of the outfits during the Flower Parades.

Especially the more tighter fitting ones…

Performer during Queernaval first gay carnival France

Another Nice Carnival reveller preparing for an evening of fun at Le Glam


We came to Nice, dressed up and partied hard with thousands of other revellers during this very pink Queer festivity.

Watch our video and re-live our Lou Queernaval memories right here and also read why we think France ranks as one of the most gay friendly countries in the world. Also see more from our travels in France with our Lyon gay guide.



The Nomadic Boys at Nice Carnival's Lou Queernaval


  1. “Sébastien” is a French name, are you French. Sébastien and Stéphane sounds very French. Who is monsieur de la vache, is it Sébastien de la Vache? Nice name, holly cow!

    • Yes sébastien is French 🙂 But I would argue its origin is actually Greek (Sebastianos ?)

  2. Just read this. Great to see you were with my friends ‘Betty’ and ‘Holly White’ at Bar Bitch in Nice. Wish I would have known you were in town. Would have loved to meet you guys. Safe travels and have lovely holidays.

    • Thanks Maureen ?

  3. WOW this looks so fun!!! Defiantly going on my must do things. Great article and love all the details you included.

    • Thanks Boris!

  4. The play on words throughout this article had me in fits! It looks like an incredible time! I loved the kids dressed as ipods haha! Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks Jo – really pleased to make you smile 🙂

  5. How have I never heard of this Carnival. Looks so colourful and vibrant. The Lady Gaga a-like is excellent!

    • Ha ha thanks 🙂

  6. A gay old time indeed, looking dashing you two! Extravagant and beautiful, those flowers- though I have to say those iPods take the cake. 😉

    • Ha ha ha thanks Mar xxxxx

  7. Looks like a lot of fun! Love your medieval outfits.

    • Thanks Shobha 🙂

  8. Sounds like a blast! I’ve already been to Nice but I’ll check this carnival out when I go back 🙂

    • You’ll love it Adonis 🙂

  9. oh I love those outfits! you do look a pair of charmers!

    Looks like a fabulous party too!

    • He he – why, thank you 🙂

  10. This is a crazy and fun event! Would love to attend!

    • Thanks Bernard – sure is 🙂

  11. Oh my word! That lady on the left in your Le Glam photo is a goddamn spitting image of Lady Gaga! Wish I could have been there to party with you guys!

    • Oh honey B it’s gonna happen very soon…I feel it in my bones 🙂

  12. Sounds amazing!! You had me at cray cray make up, glitter and sexy topless men 😀 Very cool that it’s a family friendly event, I had actually heard that Mardi Gras in the States was also very family friendly too. It’s not something I would have instantly expected, because I would have thought it was more an adult party, but thinking about it it does make a lot of sense, and I’m sure kids would LOVE the floats and the costumes and the atmosphere. Very cool, hope to get to Nice soon!

    • Thanks Meg

  13. Ooh this sounds like fun! Anything that requires dressing up is always fun to me. Love the attires you both picked 🙂

    • Thanks Erica 🙂 We wanted to be angels, but every other gay chose that…and it was COLD!

  14. Omg this looks like so much fun. Added you on instagram after seeing those photos haha.

    • Thanks Lily – what’s your Instagram profile so we can follow you back?

  15. This looks like one heck of a party! I love all the outfits and it would be great to be part of the flower parade!

    • Thanks Vicki – sure would 🙂

  16. Guys, this looked fantastic!! Looks like a good time could be had by all. Thanks for sharing! You never stop putting a smile on my face!! Thanks.

    • Thanks Fred 🙂


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