Monday, February 18, 2013

Winter Festivals on the French Riviera

While most of France is shivering in cold  February,  the Cote d'Azur enjoys sunny days and mild temperatures, perfect weather to celebrate  with parades the traditional Mardi Gras Carnival as well as festivals dedicated to the local production of lemons and mimosa flower.

Nice Carnival- Courtesy Nice OT
 Parades,  flower decorated floats and revelers fill the streets of Nice to cheer the King of Carnival and its court - all giant figures made of colorful paper-mâché. This year, the theme of Carnival is "King of Five Continents" and for fifteen days (February 15-March 6), day and night,  parades of flower bedecked floats accompanied by thousands of musicians will snake along the coastal seafront on Promenade des Anglais and Avenue Massena, Nice's main artery, loudly cheered by delirious crowds. Unique to Nice's carnival are the flower battles in which at top floats armful of flowers are tossed to the happy crowds. Ninety percent of the flowers used at the parades are produced locally --jasmine, gladiolus, mimosa, daisies, carnations and roses --allowing  the region on this occasion to showcase the quality and variety of its local production.

If Mardi Gras revelry was not enough, celebrants can enjoy two other  traditional festivals on the Côte d'Azur honoring local products- Menton's famous lemon and the Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu la Napoule.
Menton Lemon Festival

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Menton Lemon Festival, one of the French Riviera most popular events.  For two weeks in February, this pretty sunny  town on the border of France and Italy celebrates the local citrus with parade floats and giant artistic arrangements made of  the yellow and orange fruits.( February 16-March 16).

Mimosa Festival-
Courtesy Mandelieu la Napoule
Not to be outdone,  the coastal resort town of Mandelieu la Napoule, situated a few kilometers west of Nice celebrates the local mimosa.  This  flower originally from Australia was introduced  in Esterel and Tanneron massifs in the mid 19th century and when  the mimosa blooms in January and February covering  the countryside in vivid yellow carpets, it is time  for  Mandelieu to invite the world to  discover and celebrate the flower that made the town and region's fortune as it is used in perfume with what else?... parades, floats, artistic floral displays, flower battles and musical  entertainment.
(February 15-24)

tags: French Riviera, Nice Carnival, Menton Lemon Festival, Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu la Napoule

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