It’s Carnival time in Nice

17 Mar

I didn’t really mean to go to Nice this year but a friend of mine suggested I might as well since I was going to Menton which is just 1/2h away and both carnivals happened on the same days.

So here we are again on Friday evening, our working day just finished, driving towards France with the intention of spending Saturday in Nice, Sunday in Menton and half of Monday somewhere on the road before heading home. I wasn’t really driving actually, I’m only the’ organisation master’ :). We arrived in Nice at around 1.30 am and luckily I booked a no-curfew hostel because … there was nobody waiting for us. It took as a couple of minutes of panic till this guy with a perfect English accent appeared and checked us in. What we’ll find afterwords was that the staff at our hostel, Villa Saint Exupery Gardens, used to carry their guests back and forth to the tram station with their cars so, even if the hostel was a little bit far from downtown, it was actually really easy to move around even if you didn’t have a car yourself.

Villa Saint Exupery Gardens is a really nice place to sleep in, a monastery converted to hostel and I found it hilarious that the chapel now hosted 12 computers (a different type of connection with the ‘hereafter’, a wifi one 🙂 ). Since we were out all day long I can’t tell you much about their services but I really appreciated that, while having breakfast, there was always somebody from the staff coming and offering detailed information about what to see in and around Nice and how to get there. We ended up following their advice on our last day and glad we did it.  So take a look: http://hotels.lonelyplanet.com/france/nice-r2102147/villa-saint-exupery-gardens-p1046269/.

We actually chose to move by public transport, with just 1 euro for the tram ticket we were in downtown with nothing to worry about parking and parking tickets.

Saturday morning welcomed us with sun and warmth so we decided to spend the morning strolling up and down the Promenade des Anglais, Nice’s main seafront. The tram left us in Place Massena, a place we’ll see often since it was were the Corsos were to be held in the evening. For now we could just notice how everything had been already organised and imagine how many people will attend since the place was pretty big. We’ll find out later that Place Massena was only where the event started and only for those who paid the ticket. All the rest was to be seen along the downtown streets of Nice.

One piece of advice: if you don’t feel like paying 10 € for each of the shows don’t! You can still watch both the Flower Parades and the Parade of Lights or Carnival Parades. You won’t get a place in front, you’ll stay behind the rail but you’ ll still be able to see everything anyway. We wanted to buy the tickets but there were no tickets available so we watched the Flower parade during the day standing on a piece of rock just behind the rail (I know, it’s not really comfy but hey, what could we do?) and me on my boyfriend’s shoulders for a while :). As for the Parade of Lights, you could see them from whatever spot you choose, actually it’s better to be a little further so you can take proper pictures, the parades are really huge!


After some strolling we felt like nibbling something so we crossed the street and entered Cours Saleya, a pedestrian street full of restaurants, street artists and a very colourful market. I was chasing the best shot of French baguettes but it was already late, there weren’t any left… Since it was almost 1.30pm and just 1 hour left, we got close to the seafront again and looked for the best place to watch the show. This year’s theme was The Mediterranean King and I actually had more fun that I thought watching all the performance and the models throwing loads of flowers to the thrilled crowd. We left earlier though, the corsos were doing a second round dismantling and offering their entire flower-made carriage.

We decided to spend the afternoon or what was left of it on top of the hill called Chateau but we didn’t spot any castle and no trace of water in what was once a gorgeous waterfall (or maybe the wrong season…). Just a beautiful view of both the seafront and the harbour, and a nice and pretty big park full of young families. I like walking so we arrived up there on foot but if you’re not that much of a stairs fan there is also an elevator somewhere at the bottom of the hill.


Since we still had a couple of hours till the Parade of Lights we decided to pay a visit to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. I’m not really a religious person, on the contrary, but the cathedral is the biggest orthodox one outside Russia and it’s really beautiful. It took us a lot to walk there, it looked much closer on the map so by the time we arrived we had only 5 minutes to take some photos and return to place Massena.

The Parade of Lights lasted a couple of hours so you might consider some warm clothes for the occasion. There is no need to arrive earlier, 8.55pm is just perfect, the parade performs a loop around the city center so you can always find a good place to watch it all. I really enjoyed the illuminated corsos, some of the floats were just wonderful but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.






One last word to spare is for the public transport, extremely organised even with all those people wanting to go home once the show was finished. I’ll put also a link to the official website of the carnival but you’ll have to wait till next year to see it yourself: http://www.nicecarnaval.com/en/index.php

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2 Responses to “It’s Carnival time in Nice”

  1. Ancutza March 18, 2011 at 1:36 am #

    Wonderful photos!

    • dusty laces March 18, 2011 at 1:49 am #

      thank you, thank you! I’m still waiting for yours :)!

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