This past weekend, I went to the famed French Riviera, the one and only famed vacation spot of Americans for years. My specific destination? Nice, pronounced niece. Situated right on the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is a lovely port town with pebble beachs. Normally, pebble beachs would bother me greatly as I prefer my beaches to be sandy. But I hardly noticed the pebbles because I was in Nice for Carnaval. I was there to celebrate Mardi Gras. This year’s theme was “Roi de la Méditerranée,” or, King of the Mediterranean.
I went to 3 parades during my 2 days in Nice – the first of which was the Bataille de Fleurs.
The first Flower Battle occured in 1876 along Nice’s Promenade des Anglais (better known as the path along the sea). It was the brainchild of Andriot Saëtone and at the beginning, it was simply a festival where people exchanged flowers. Over the years, the Bataille has evolved into this epic parade. 80% of the flowers used for these floats are produced locally. Between 80,000 and 100,000 flowers decorate the floats each year.
True to its name, the Flower Battle involves people in flower floats throwing flowers to the passerby in the stands. This is the only event during Carnaval where buying a ticket is absolutely necessary – if you don’t have one, you won’t be able to see anything. You certainly wouldn’t be able to jump up and try to catch the flowers either!
This is actually the Bataille de Fleurs’ last year on the Promenade des Anglais. Apparently the residents and tourists have been complaining that the grandstands used for the Carnaval interfere with everyone else’s use of the Prom. So starting with 2012 and beyond, the Battle will be held along the normal Carnaval route. But I’m sure that everyone who leaves will end up with huge flower bouquets like we did. This is only half our bounty; we gave away some flowers to some cute old ladies 🙂
I officially love Mardi Gras. Coming up in the next few days, the other two parades I attended: Corso Illumine and the Corso Carnavalesque!