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On the Search for Tradition in the Modern Nice Carnival

February is synonymous with more than one big event; Valentine’s Day, the Oscars, Six Nations Rugby, and, if you live in Nice, Carnival.

Like it, or loathe it (I’d say most residents fall into the latter camp), don’t even try to fight the Carnival.

Plan your Visit to Nice’s Carnival

The theme and exact dates for Carnaval de Nice change annually, but the event always lasts for two weeks. This French Riviera carnival rivals Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Venice, Italy, for its largess and extravagance. Although carnival traditions are rooted in the Middle Ages, the first official event in Nice occurred on February 23, 1873. Read more about the history of the Carnaval de Nice here.

The official program includes several parades during the daytime and evenings. The parade floats (usually 18) are decorated in flowers and characters to match that year’s theme.

On Wednesdays and Saturday afternoons during Carnaval, there are flower parades – Bataille de Fleurs. The parade floats are covered in flowers, and the riders are said to throw some 100,000 flowers into the crowd each time. This Carnival tradition dates back to the 19th century, when carnation farming in the Nice area was the largest in France.


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Chrissie McClatchie

Chrissie McClatchie

Sydney born Chrissie fell in love with the French Riviera at the age of 17, when she embarked on six months of French lessons (and table dancing at the Vieux Nice institution Chez Waynes).

Almost ten years after her first Nice experience, Chrissie returned to Nice for a summer and somewhat fortuitously landed a role with a local company selling fine wine to the superyachts along the coast, which cemented her passion for the fermented grape.

In late 2012 Chrissie started her blog, The Riviera Grapevine, to chronicle the wonderful and little-known local wines and indigenous grapes found along the French and Italian Riviera. Chrissie still works in wine and can often be found enjoying a sneaky Provence rosé at one of the al fresco bars on Nice's Place Garibaldi, or with her nose in her ever-expanding collection of wine literature.

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