Nice Carnival Poster
Finally,
I understood what that massive paper mâché head that sat atop the tourism
ofiice on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice was all about. The head, which has
a creepy, Chucky quality about it, belongs to the Carnival King who presides over
the carnival festivities held annually in his French Riviera kingdom of Nice.

I
had no idea carnival was celebrated in Nice until a couple of years ago, nor
did I have any idea how big a deal it was until this year when I was in Nice
for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10 Miles du Carnaval, which was incorporated into the
official carnival program.
The Roi de la Gastronomie or the king of gastronomy

Along with Brazil, Venice and New Orleans, Nice is
home to one of the world’s major carnival events, drawing over 1 million
visitors each year to the 3-week extravaganza.

This
year’s theme was Roi de la Gastronomie (King of Gastronomy), a subject that is
the source of enormous pride and passion for the French.
Floats and paper mâché "big heads" that are the hallmark of the Nice carnival celebrations

The carnival king
leads a number of lavish parades as hundreds of dancers and musicians from
around the world, not to mention colorfully costumed revelers, follow him
through the streets of Nice as if he’s the pied piper.

Carnival
celebrations have been going on in Nice since the Middle Ages, and in its
current incarnation with the large parades and floats and viewing stands, since
the late 1800’s. The Bataille de Fleurs
(Flower Parade) is one of the main events of the carnival and is a tradition that
began in 1876 when rich visitors who came to Nice for the winter gave the
locals the flowers that decorated their carriages.
The Bataille de Fleurs (flower parade) at the Nice Carnival

The Bataille de Fleurs (flower parade) at the Nice Carnival

Today the Bataille de Fleurs
– with its stunning floral floats that travel along the Promenade des Anglais filling
the air with a sweet fragrance and accompanied by lovely ladies in captivating
costumes who toss mimosas, lilies and orchids into the crowd – promotes the large variety of flowers found
in the Riviera
.

When
there are no more flowers to toss, the ladies pick them off of the floats and
by the parade’s end, the floats lay bare and abandoned, while parade-goers
leave with amazing bouquets.
A float designed with the "gastronomy" theme in mind.

The
other main events include the Carnival Parade and the Parade of Lights. The Carnival Parade is the event and features the previously mentioned (creepy) paper
mâché heads and 18 large floats designed with the carnival’s theme in mind,
while the enormous floats of the Parade
of Lights
illuminate the city’s main square, the Place de Massena.
The Parade of Lights lights up the Place de Massena in Nice.

Carnival
ends on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) with the closing festivities that see the
Carnival King being incinerated in a bonfire by the ocean. 
The Carnival King is burned in a bonfire at the end of Carnival
Photo credit: NiceMatin.com
Mark
your calendar for Carnaval de Nice 2015. The theme will be Roi de la Musique
and it is sure to be a rockin’ good time. 



   

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