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  • Writer's pictureDavid Viney

The Carnival of Nice

The Carnaval de Nice is one of the world's major Mardi Gras carnival events, alongside carnivals in Rio de Janeiro, Venice, and New Orleans. It is held annually in February and sometimes early March (on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday; the beginning of the Christian observance of Lent).

corso illuminé of the Nice Carnival
The « corso illuminé » of the Nice Carnival 2009. Photo © Debb Collins

The earliest records of the carnival can be found in the writings of the Count of Provence, Charles Anjou, in 1294. This may well make Nice Carnival the oldest and original carnival celebration in the world. In 1873, the Carnival format was reinvented into a parade, adding masquerades, satirical floats, and competitions. In recent years, the two-week event had attracted over a million visitors to Nice.

The Nice Carnival Floats

Every year, a new and special theme is chosen, and artists then create 18 floats and other figurines (in traditional papier-mâché) for the parade. After the 2016 Nice truck attack, the main parade route was moved from the Promenade des Anglais to the Promenade du Paillon. The parades are a riot of colour and take place both day and night.

The Battle of the Flowers

The Promenade des Anglais is now devoted to the "battles of the flowers" and in recent years the flower parades have matched the theme and scale of the main carnival; comprising around 15 allegorical floats decorated with fresh flowers, and surrounded by jugglers, stilt walkers, and other street performers. In total, over 250,000 stems of flowers and 21 tonnes of mimosas are distributed to the public each year; 80% of which are produced locally.

Transportation: Getting There

The best way to access the festival is by train (to Nice Station) or by tram (line 2 to either the Jean Médecin or Garibaldi stops). If coming by car, signage will direct you to the best places. But do consider the "Parcazur" park and ride service; which lets you reach the city centre by public transport (tram or bus) without worrying about your vehicle.


With stunning views, private pool, super-fast WiFi and modern air-conditioning, Haute Vue is a large holiday home with private pool in Montauroux; a 45 minute drive from Nice and right in the heart of the riot of yellow colours that is Mimosa season (at this time of year). Sleeping 10/12 in 5/6 bedrooms, it is the perfect central base for a holiday in the South of France; close to the beautiful perched villages of Provence and in easy reach of the beaches and sights of the sparkling Côte d'Azur.

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