Welcome to my blog. I'll tell you about life in this wonderful part of the world, with stories about travels here and elsewhere, anecdotes of daily life — and food. The fabulous cuisine of France is one of the reasons why I, my husband (known as Bicycle Bob) and our two cats (now three) moved here from Germany almost five years ago. I love to cook, entertain frequently, and will share favorite recipes. For more about me, see my web site: www.leahlarkin.com
It's a riot of flowers and floats, almost-naked dancers from Brazil, giant balloons that float over the crowds, bands from around the world blasting a cacophony of sounds, confetti and more. During a three-week period in the pre-Lenten season, Nice sponsors huge parades along its famous seaside boulevard, Promenade des Anglais.
Maybe I'm a Carnival addict. Since moving to Europe more than 30 years ago, I've been to many of these boisterous, colorful celebrations. I love them all. Now that Bicycle Bob and I are living in France, I felt we must see the best of France's festivities: Nice's Carnaval.
We went to an afternoon parade, then another at night. As parades go, both were spectacular. Flowers are the focus of the afternoon event. Pretty costumed young women on floats decorated with thousands of blossoms throw bouquets of canary-yellow mimosa into cheering crowds. Between the flower floats is an international melange: troops of dancers (many wearing very little — fortunately the sun was shining), acrobats, stilt walkers and jumpers, bands — and amazing huge balloons in the form of characters and animals. The latter are controlled by ropes held by those walking under the fantastic creations. They lower and raise the ropes, letting the balloons soar high into the sky, then dipping them down, skirting the heads of some of the joyous spectators.
The balloons reappear during the night time parade like surrealistic objects hovering over the masses, their bright colors and bulbous shapes highlighted by spotlights. There are also floats of enormous figures that twist and turn, and more dancers and spirited sounds. Lots of drums and noise. It's a big, crazy party.
Pranks and shenanigans are always part of Carnival fun. In Nice Carnival goers buy confetti, streamers and cans of "fun string" to bombard one another with. The latter is a spray of moist, rubbery colorful strings. Some victims end up looking like they walked into a monstrous cobweb. Fortunately the stuff is harmless and can easily be removed. Of course, we got our share — in our hair, on our clothes, even in the face. It's all part of the fun. We bought a few cans of the spray. Maybe we'll have a Carnival party next year and "attack" unsuspecting guests.
Every Carnival is unique. Nice's parades and flowers are definitely worth a visit. I'll go back, but then I'd also like to go back to Basel, Switzerland, for the Morgestraich with its eerie sounds and costumes in the 4 a.m. darkness, Venice with its marvelous costumed characters who wander along the canals, the Black Forest with its grotesque masks…Maybe Rio should be next, but then there's New Orleans…