Jan 28, 2015

A Beefcake Tour of Provence

I've been to France many times, but mostly I stick to the north, Paris, Normandy, Bretagne.

Provence is a long way from the Paris, and it has always given me an oddly heterosexual vibe, maybe from those commercials I saw as a kid about a lady in a bikini getting a "St. Tropez tan," or all of the "boy meets girl" films being aired in Cannes.

But the beaches on the Mediterranean are bound to have some well-packed swimsuits, and there seems to be a surprising amount of  beefcake art.

Here's a seven-day beefcake tour of Provence.

Day 1: Start in Marseille, the second largest city in France, famous for Louis Botinelly's Dresseur d' Orsons, "The Bear Trainer," in front of the Tourette Saint Laurent Church: a naked acrobat is training some cubs to stand up to the sound of a tambourine.  Bear cubs show up frequently in the city's iconography.

But there's also a more traditional, and more nude, statue of David, plus the Musee des Beaux Arts, the Cathedral, and the Palais Longchamp.

Day 2: Rent a car and drive north 1/2 hour  to Aix-en-Provence (to walk around the old city), then to an hour west to Arles (for the Roman ruins), and another 1/2 hour to Nimes, an ancient Roman city and the heart of the Provencal language area.

Tourists go there for the Roman Ampitheater.

This interesting fountain on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle seems to be spurting water from its penis (it's actually much lower).

Day 3: Another hour drive to the west is Montepellier, on the Mediterranean Sea, with the Musee Fabree and the Opera Comedie, this nude neoclassical statue of Apollo out front.

Then a 2 1/2 hour drive west past Narbonne and the old walled city of Carcassone, and you reach Toulouse, with another statue of David.

Day 3. An hour and a half south and west into the mountains, to Tarbes, at the foot of the Pyrenees, with a muscular piper outside the Musee des Beaux Artes.

Day 4: A 2 1/2 hours north to Bordeaux, one of the largest port cities in France, with the Musee d'Acquitaine, the Basilica of St. Michael, and these frolicking musclemen.

For the evening, a very well organized gay community, with cultural and artistic events, plus six saunas. .

Day 5: A six-hour drive east brings you to Grenoble, on the Drac River in the foothills of the Alps.  When you get there, visit the Bastille overlooking the city, the Museum of Grenoble, and this statue of Hercules.

Day 6: It's a 4-hour drive south to Nice, on the Mediterranean, near the Italian border.  Visit the Chagall Museum, the Promenade des Anglais, and the Place Massena, where seven statues of naked people represent the seven continents.

There's also some traditional nude male art in Nice, like this warrior.

Day 7:  Toulon, an hour and a half along the coast, features this Spirit of Navigation.

Then it's an hour drive back to Marseille.

See also: A beefcake tour of France.

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