Bataille de Fleurs 2012. Photo by Mary Kay Seales

From February 11th to February 25th, Nice will host its annual spectacle, the very popular Carnaval de Nice. This year’s theme will be Energy: Renewable forms of energy and the energy of man.

Daily parades, musicals events, amazing costumes and a colourful finale that brings to mind hellfire and brimstone: perfectly fitting for a pre-Lenten celebration.

Unlike Carnival in other cities around the world, the Carnaval de Nice is a family-friendly event with many of the parades taking place during the day. The most popular of these is the Bataille de Fleurs, the Battle of the Flowers, with costumed ‘maidens’ tossing out thousands of flowers to the crowds from quirky flower-laden floats. It’s fun, festive and a wonderful photo op!

Carnaval de Nice. Photo by Mary Kay Seales
Pink hat. Photo: Mary Kay Seales

On the final evening of Carnival, the gigantic King and Queen are paraded into Place Massena on floats, amid all the fanfare befitting these huge (and somewhat frightening-looking) figures. This year’s King with be Le Roi d’Energie- to be burnt on the Place Massena after the last Parade of Lights.

Fireworks on Place Massena, Carnival de Nice. Photo by Mary Kay Seales
Le Roi. Photo by Mary Kay Seales
Le Roi of the Carnival. Photo by Mary Kay Seales

I love this city at any time of the year, but during Carnival, this beautiful city on the Côte d’Azur comes alive with thousands of tourists from near and far, and at least when I was there for the 2012 Carnival, the weather was chilly but sunny.

Besides enjoying the festival, you can also explore all that the French Riviera has to offer from side trips to Monaco and Cannes to hikes along the sea or around nearby Cap-Ferrat.

Getting There

A recent search on Expedia turned up airfares from New York JFK to the lovely and modern airport in Nice, round trip for $539. Not bad!

Where to Stay

A few choices for hotels would be the incredible Hotel Suisse or the Hotel La Perouse, both relatively expensive, but with spectacular views of the sea. The Hotel Albert 1 is a less expensive alternative, still very nice with all modern amenities and some rooms overlooking the parade grounds. There are many more hotels in the central area, and Airbnb is always an option as well.

For budget travelers, you can try the Villa Saint Exupéry hostel near the Port area.

Visit this year’s carnival website for more information: http://www.nicecarnaval.com/en/

Note:  There will be heightened security at the Carnaval de Nice this year with the parade routes cordoned off for a “100% secure enclosure.” You can be sure there will be every precaution taken to ensure the safety of visitors to this amazing event.

View from L’Eden near the Old Town, Nice. Photo by Mary Kay Seales

If the Carnaval de Nice isn’t in the cards for you this year, put it on your bucket list for 2018! Relax at a seaside café or dance in the streets. This is a wonderful winter get-away for everyone!

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