Nice Carnival is one of the biggest, well-known Mardi Gras festivals in the world (alongside Venice and Brazil). The earliest records date back to 1294 when the Count of Provence, Charles Anjou, was in power. Historians suggest that Nice Carnival is the original carnival celebration.
This year’s two-week celebration took place from February 14th-March 4th (the last day always being Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday), so I knew I could not pass up on the opportunity whilst I was living on the French Riviera. During the first weekend of our winter vacation, my friend Maria (a Louisiana native!) and I packed up our bags for a quick weekend getaway! This year’s carnival theme was, Roi de la Gastronomie, meaning that it is all about food!
On Saturday morning, we spent the morning reading on our friend’s balcony in the sunshine before heading down to the beach and finally making our way to the Promenade des Anglais, where the first event of the day, The Flower Parade, took place. It was weird to have to buy tickets for a parade, but I guess that’s France. We decided to purchase 10€ standing tickets, which I thought was perfect. There are plenty of floats for this parade, all of which consist of people people throwing flowers to the crowds. There are also marching bands, dancers, and street performers. After all my years in the marching band it was nice to be on the spectators’ side for once!
Afterwards we walked around and enjoyed the various vendors’ booths, as well as spent a few hours reading on the beach.
That night, we made our way to the big Carnival event, where we had purchased 25€ seats in advance (a way better idea to ensure you see everything, as it is overcrowded and long!) Again, the theme of 2014 was Roi de la Gastronomie, so all of the floats were food themed, and more specifically, in the order of a typical French five-course (or more!) meal. Traditionally, the floats are supposed to be a little scandalous or political. My favorite was probably of French President Francois Hollande on top of the cheese course float with a clothes pin attached to his nostrils, because according to his 15% approval rating, he stinks.
Have you ever been to Nice Carnival? What was your favorite part?