Meanderings Through France 3
The Nice carnival: a nice way to get out of winter
2014 will be the 130th edition of the Nice carnival on the French Riviera, from February 14 till March 4, and after the awful weather we have been experiencing lately, the weather forecast promise sunshine during the all festivities.
This year’s theme is “Le Roi de la Gastronomie” (The King of Gastronomy) to highlight the local cooking, an opportunity to enjoy the carnival entertainment and the tasty specialities offered in restaurants and markets. The food market on Cours Saleya in the pedestrian zone is the most enjoyable one. From there grab the opportunity to wander through the narrow streets of Old Nice district with their art galleries, antiques shops and tiny restaurants.
You can attend many, many events during the carnival. The daily parade is not to be missed: this year it will be a total of 18 floats moving along the Promenade des Anglais, the famous long avenue overlooking the beach and the Mediterranean sea. It takes several days to decorate each float made of a wired frame with thousands of flowers, amaryllis, carnations, orchids (phalaenopsis, wandas, cymbidiums), snapdragons, lilies roses, daisies, brooms… 90% of the flowers used are locally produced.
From each float costumed models throw flowers to the crowd. 4000 tonnes of mimosa are given to the crowd every year. As the floats move forward you can feel the growing excitement of the people waving their hands and shouting to attract the girls’ attention and be lucky enough to bring a bunch of flowers back home. Along with the floats 1000 musicians and dancers from all over the world bring music and rhythm, making you feel like dancing and singing along.
Saturday nights, on February 22 and March 1, are times for the “Corso Carnavalesque”. At night, at 9 pm, on the Massena Square in the heart of the city centre comes another parade with new floats with huge dummies, clowns, musicians under a shower of lights and confetti’s. You will feel connected to the people surrounding you, happy to share this moment of happiness.
The ‘Rock’n Roll Carnival 10 miles’ on February 16, is a race where everybody is welcomed as long as you run with a disguise on. Last year 5000 people joined in the race. And if you have some energy left, join a big Zumba fitness session awaiting you on the “Promenade des Anglais”.
On Saturday February 23, screw up your courage for the “Carnival Bath”. Once again wearing a disguise will be more fun. The meeting point is on the beach where you will have to run and dive into the sea with a bunch of people crazy enough to swim in the cold water, about 55° F at this time of the year!
Of course everything must come to an end but the Nice carnival knows how to finish brilliantly. The closing ceremony on March 3rd is the last but not least opportunity to party. The 2014 king is going to die. The big dummy representing the King of Gastronomy that paraded on its float during the “Corso carnavalesque” will be set on fire on a barge and burn to ashes leaving its throne to the 2015 king. As we say in France: the King is dead, long live the King!
To get to Nice, from UK is easy, there are many direct flights. And the Nice airport has been built just at the far end of the Promenade des Anglais and is directly and easily linked to the city centre by local buses at very affordable prices, 6€, less than 5£, including connections to all the inner Nice bus services.
Nice offers a huge choice of accommodations, from low cost to 5 stars hotels. And if you agree to take some money from your piggy bank in order to stay at the best location for the carnival, right over the Promenade des Anglais and just at a few metres from the parade place, choose the “Palais de la Méditerranée”, my favourite. This very elegant 5 stars hotel settled in the former Palais Rhul, offers huge and extremely comfortable rooms, and the view from the open-air terrace, on the third floor, overlooking the sea, is amazing.
Text © Annick Dournes
Photos © Frederic de Poligny
About Annick Dournes & Frederic De Poligny
|Annick Dournes and Frederic de Poligny are two French tourism journalists who travel the world for many years. They will share with you their very favourite experiences of worldwide travels. Those about France, their native country, will be found on a regular basis in their chronicle “Meanderings through France”. Web|