Nice’s Mardi Gras celebrations are an explosion of colour and flowers that attack the senses (in the nicest way possible!). The city of Nice on the south of France lights up for two weeks up to and including Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) with parades, fireworks, and general festival fun.
Floral floats make their way through the streets of Nice; a beautiful focal point of the city’s annual carnival. Carnival revellers wear Venetian-style masks and make-up while stilt-walking or partying on floats and throwing hundreds of flowers and petals into the crowd during the Bataille de Fleurs. The sweet aroma of floral perfume overtakes the city during the annual carnival allowing visitors to smell like beautiful Provencal posies!
The carnival floats are also home to grosses tetes (or ‘big heads’), large papier-mache carictures of all sorts of famous people; from politics to popular culture. These grosses tetes are paraded through the streets of Nice before the chosen King of the Carnival is burnt in a final celebration on the last day.
‘Guests wearing full fancy dress will be allowed into the carnival free of charge – so find your best festival fun outfit for complimentary entry!
The whole city takes part in the carnival with shops and vendors lining the streets with local produce including gifts and food that carnivalgoers and can purchase.
Despite starting as a Pagan festival of nature and spring, the Nice Carnival now overlaps as the city’s Mardi Gras festival (a celebration before the Christian period of lent begins).
Although the carnival parade weaves its way through the city, there will be gated security measures in place throughout the city. You should therefore plan to get to your most convenient gate around an hour before festivities begin to ensure you are in to the carnival with a great spot in the heart of the action by the time the parade and party starts.
Reserved seating is also available for purchase which is particularly recommended for the popular Batailles des Fleurs and the Carnival Parade of Lights. More information can be found on the Official Programme section of the carnival website.
The best way to enjoy all parts of the Nice Carnival is on foot. Wander around the city, along the waterfront promenades and through parks and squares taking in all that Carnival has to offer. For those who’d rather not walk too far, ensure you reserve a seat in one of the carnival grandstands so you can enjoy the festival’s shows without having to stand for too long.
Nice has a bus and tramway system which serves all of the Côte d’Azur. With tickets at just €1.50 for a single ticket (up to 74 minutes) you can easily get around and multi-day tickets are also available.
Vélobleu is also an option for those who’d rather cycle (although this may be a busier and more difficult option during the carnival. These self-service bikes are spread across the city meaning you can pick up and drop off your bicycle wherever you go throughout Nice.
Nice carnivalgoers can stay anywhere in and around the city of Nice, the capital of the French Riviera. Nice has a bus and tramway system (as mentioned above) so you can easily move around the city to get to your accommodation. There are also a number of hotels near Nice airport and train station which makes moving in and out of the city easy.
Please see the map below which highlights some of the best hotels and Airbnb’s in Nice.
Nice is known for being a stylish haven on the French Riviera with the waterfront, Promende des Anglais and Castle de Nice just begging to be explored. Extend your stay until after the carnival so you can truly make the most of the mild winter months without all the carnival mayhem.
Visit the Matisse museum (and/or his grave in the Cimiez Monastery), marvel at the Gothic architecture of Notre Dame de Nice, sip cocktails in the glamourous waterfront bars or simply wander through the colourful cobblestone streets of old town.
The next Nice Carnival will take place between the 15th-29th February 2020.
Rad Season is providing you with hotels and Airbnbs at the lowest prices available online. Book your stay for Nice Carnival 2020 using the map below!
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