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  • Writer's pictureleahglickman

Carnival Craziness

I always knew Carnival (or Carnaval in French) was a huge thing in Rio and Venice, but it turns out that Nice has the 3rd largest celebration in the world! A bit before February break, I started noticing some changes aka some bleachers set up in Masséna, gates along the Promenade ... When I got back from Paris, Carnaval was in full swing! Nice celebrates for about 2 weeks and since I stayed for most of break, I got to experience it.

Even though I got to Nice at the end of September, it was still the end of shoulder season and there was a solid amount of tourists around. Throughout the winter, all of us assistants noticed how empty it got, stores and restaurants closed and there were hardly any people out after sundown. It was a bit shocking to see shops I had never seen open with people bustling about, and people strolling along the streets of Vieux Nice (even when i was in a hurry and couldn’t sneak around them...).

I ended up going to both Carnaval events when my friend Kristen came to visit and it was a blast. Mel and I had tried to go with some other assistant friends and ended up not being able to buy tickets in advance so it was even more exciting the second time around. Katie, Kristen and I got to the Bataille des Fleurs with about an hour to spare, like the directions said to do. We still had to wait in a solid line to pass through security. After the 2016 Bastille Day attacks, Nice really amped up the security, especially with the large amounts of tourists around. (A fellow teacher at school told me all about how it was different when his kids were younger).

We ended up being a few rows back from the front and it was a little tricky to see the floats all decorated with the flowers. There is a specific, regional flowering tree called the mimosa (not the drink, disappointing) that blooms for about 3 weeks this time of year and it was heavily featured ... and thrown! The best part of this daytime parade is the fact that they throw roses, mimosas and a bunch of other flowers (no pun intended)! Sadly, the three of us did not luck out with catching flowers (I blame it on the group of older ladies next to us with wildly quick reflexes!). It was still pretty cool to see.

That night, we headed out to the Corso Carnavalesque, which has floats, bands and other performers! We waited through security again, and then to our surprise, we didn’t have to wait behind the gates like we did earlier in the afternoon! We stood on the sidewalk right next to the floats which was wicked fun!

This years theme was the King of Cinema. Highlights included a giant Charlie Chaplin float with some fun dancers, a float with Trump holding Putin with Macron in front (always political @France), a really cool band with some funky, blue wigs ... and of course lots and lots of confetti and streamers! The night event was definitely more fun than the daytime one, mainly because we were closer to the action. We also got to see the Burning of the King which happens the last night of Carnaval. I thought it was symbolical, but nope they actually burn the float of the king!

Carnaval was really fun, but honestly I’m pretty glad it is over. They stop the tram line and basically close Place Massena, Jardin Albert 1 and part of the Promenade des Anglais and Arts which is a huge pain to walk (or jog) around. There were lots more tourists which was different to see, but it makes me a little glad I’m not here in the middle of summer. It was even sometimes hard to get a seat outside Fenocchio!!


[Bonus event - Fête de Citron!]

The first Friday of break was the first day of the Fete de Citron in Menton. I had actually heard about this springtime event before I even knew I was placed in Nice-proper, so I was pumped when my friend Monica asked if I wanted to tag along with her and some other assistants.

We took the train to Menton and (you guessed it) waited in line for security. It ended up being about an hour and a half and I was pretty glad there were a group of us to hang out and chat.

Our first event was the parade, and they did not skimp on the colorful lemons and oranges decorating the floats (unclear why there were no limes ...). The theme this year was a sort of fantasy one so we saw some mermaids, fairies and even a huge dragon! Confetti got everywhere, as per ushe.

We then headed into the exhibition where we saw some other sculptures of fruit and got to taste some limoncello. It was cool, but the parade was definitely the highlight. We also got to explore the town a bit after.

Here's to still finding confetti everywhere,


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