Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Carnaval in Nice
It's a day late, but HAPPY MARDI GRAS! Or Fat Tuesday in english. We celebrated on Sunday with a full day in Nice. They do their Carnaval from Feb. 13 - March 1, and it includes many events including balls and parades. The three main repeating events are the daytime Carnaval parade, the illuminated nighttime Carnaval parade, and the Flower parade. We were originally going to go for 2 nights and catch multiple events, since it is another 2-week school vacation, but we ended up booking a chalet in the Alps for a week, so decided to go for the day and catch the daytime parade. It was absolutely perfect...we had a fantastic day!
We got up early on Sunday, left the apt. at 8:30 am and walked to the St. Raphael train station. We were in Nice before 10 and strolled down to the Bord de la Mer under a blue sky. We walked along the beach, found the Jardin full of kid activities where Irie got her face painted, then headed to the grand ferris wheel for a look from above. The parade wasn't until 2:30 so we took a leisurely and deilcious lunch, then headed back to the Promenade Anglais where the people were really starting to congregate. Vendor with carts were selling crazy hats, masks, balloons, bags of confetti and cans of silly string (by the case load). Little did we know what we were in for...full on silly string wars. We were feeling festive so bought hats, masks, confetti, a dolphin balloon that you will see make repeated appearances in the pictures and video, and many more cans of silly string than I ever would have guessed.
Let me just say that I love New Orleans, but I've always gone there for Jazz Fest in early May, and have never attended Mardi Gras. That town knows how to party hard, so I can only imagine how absolutely crazy the parades must get with everyone boozed up and treats getting tossed from every float. In Nice, I felt completely comfortable having Irie front row on the parade route. If anyone was drinking you wouldn't have known it from their behavior, and they don't toss anything but confetti and silly string from the floats so there was no mad rush to collect booty. The floats were first-rate, the people were friendly, and we never felt crushed or crammed by the crowds. As the period neared the latter stages we were able to walk easily against the grain catching the floats we hadn't yet seen.
Here's the video:
We love Nice for all it has to offer so we then headed into Old Town for some post-parade treats (ice cream and crêpes) and a little shopping before walking back to the train station for the relaxing ride home. We were perfectly sated from a day of eye candy, good food, and loads of fun and laughter. What a great start to spring vacation!!