This is my 4th February in Nice, and I STILL have not gone to a Carnaval Parade. Why, you ask? …Well, it could be because I don’t like events with crowds. Never did – except for the GHS football games. But, rock concerts and such, no. I liked to go to the Hollywood Bowl. That was an exception. Or it could because I still have vivid memories of the 2016 Nice terror attack and my horror at how close we came to being there. Many of our friends were there. Steve and I happened to be on vacation in Sardinia, coming home the next day.
What is the Carnaval de Nice? Well, here is a tad of background. “Carnival is the most important Winter event on the French Riviera and has been run since the Middle-Ages. In the Ancient Times, the Winter solstice was an occasion for pagan festivals and renewal celebrations. The word ‘carnival’ derives from the Latin ‘carnelevare‘ meaning ‘to take out the meat’. The medieval Church banished meat from the table during the whole period of Lent, as it did with sugar, ingredients containing fat, eggs and dairy products. Before the start of the fasting period of Lent (on Ash Wednesday), people had fun running Carnivals as it was their last chance until Easter to eat meat. The celebration was also a way to chase off the gloom of winter in the hope of Spring.”
“The first mention of a Carnival festival in Nice dates back to 1294 when Charles of Anjou, Count of Provence and King of Sicily, mentioned the ‘Joyful days of the Carnival’ during a stay in the city. Until the 19th century the Nice Carnival was a street party without organized parades. In 1830 Charles-Felix, King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy (1765-1831), and Queen Maria Cristina of Naples and Sicily came to Nice at the time of the carnival. To mark the royal visit, the city’s local authorities organized the first parade in their honour. Prominent residents of Nice dressed in elegant costumes paraded on decorated carriages past the palace balcony.”
In February 2016, Steve and I were just beginning to explore our new home. We did not know that much about Carnaval. Also, we lived on one of the hills here – Cimiez, and the festivities were down in Nice Centre.
In February 2017, I was a student at Alliance Francaise, and participated in their Carnaval photography contest. I wrote about that in JAYSPEAK, posting many of my photographs and the photographs of the winners. That theme was King of Energy!
In February 2018, I vowed to go to a Carnaval Parade. I didn’t. I don’t remember why – probably because I had moved down into Nice Centre and was still getting used to the crowds and congestion that was going on in town, especially during Carnaval weeks.
Now, it is February 2019. If I get a chance, I plan to show up during one of the Parades during the day. The bleachers are huge, and the crowds are immense!! It would be nice to know someone with a balcony on the Parade Route. That’s the best way to watch!!
“The first parade was a success and was renewed the following years in the absence of the king. The people of Nice made themselves of king of straw and old clothes and placed him on the palace balcony. In 1882 it was decided that the mock king should participate in the parade by signalling the beginning of the festivities. This explains why the arrival of the royal float with its gigantic character is such an important moment during the Nice Carnival.”
“It is tradition for the king to preside over the carnival on the Place Masséna during the whole time of the festivities. On the final night of the carnival, the effigy of the king is put out to sea on a little boat and burned before the traditional fireworks of the Bay of Angels. The carnival is a modern, high-quality show with a creative procession of floats made up of two different events: the Carnival Parade and the Flower Parade.”
TONIGHT! IT ALL STARTS TONIGHT!! This year, the king is King of Cinema. I tried to find a picture of him to post. Someone has one on Instagram, so I will find one at some point and post it. I know my curiosity and free spirit approach to life will prevail, and I will show up at a Parade at some point. It sounds and looks like a LOT of fun!! And a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I will take pictures and post them from time to time. The floats are great!!!