In France Carnival (the celebration that culminates in Mardi Gras) is an occasion for festivals in towns across the nation. The carnival in Nice France is the biggest and most spectacular in the country. At the time of carnival Nice France erupts into a citywide party, with parades in the daytime and evening and a large bonfire and fireworks on Mardi Gras itself. Flower processions, floats, and parties make Nice the place to be for carnival in France.
Carnival in France is an ancient tradition. In France carnival provided the last opportunity to eat rich and fatty cuisine before the forty-day fast of Lent. Carnival in France became a period when the Catholic Church's restrictions were relaxed and people, disguised behind masks, delighted in activity forbidden at other times of year.
Carnival in Nice France was mentioned as early as 1294. In the years before the revolution in France carnival involved masked balls and dances for the French aristocracy. Each year since the 1873 carnival Nice France has had a "committee for the parties," to organize more spectacular floats, more grotesque and fabulous costumes, and a more stunning celebratory atmosphere. It is now a 10-day celebration in the period leading up to Mardi Gras.
The festival begins on a Saturday 10 days before Mardi
Gras with the arrival of the carnival king. There are
parades every night or day for the entire carnival. At
the height of the carnival Nice France is awash with flowers.
Since 1876 the carnival in Nice France has included a Bataille de Fleurs (battle of the flowers). Twenty
meticulously designed flower-covered floats parade down
the Promenade des
Anglais along the Nice
beaches. Costumed men and women throw approximately
100,000 flowers to an enthusiastic audience. Some 90%
of the flowers—carnations, daisies, gerberas, gladioli,
mimosa, roses, and other varieties—are produced
locally, highlighting the variety and quality of the flowers
grown in the French Riviera.
The flower parade takes places several times during the
Nice carnival. For the best view, reserve a seat or a
place in the designated standing area along the Promenade
Events like the flower parades make the carnival in Nice France the liveliest in the country and one of the best of all France events. In France carnival is a time of unrestricted celebration and Nice has the most spectacular carnival in France. The date of the festival depends of the date of Easter and varies from year to year between February 3 and March 9. Most years it falls sometime in mid-February. The festival culminates on the Tuesday of Mardi Gras with a not-to-be-missed Grande Parade and fireworks.