LGBT Center Côte d’Azur for an informal social gathering. I quickly realize on my first day in Nice that the city’s social nature is as identifiable as its famous coastline.

The welcoming storefront recently celebrated its 11th anniversary. If you can find it — and speak a modest amount of French — queer locals will steer you toward some of their favorite hangouts, restaurants, and nightlife.

And for the city’s residents, free health and social services and get-togethers like the one I’ve happened upon have solidified the venue as a valuable community hub.