Sitting in the stands along the Mediterranean Sea, confetti, silly string, streamers, and the fragrance from thousands of flowers swirl through the crowd. It’s almost time for the Nice Carnival Battle of Flowers to begin!
Kids cram against the rails, arms stretched out hoping to grasp the first of the yellow flowers being thrown to the spectators. Music blares, horse hooves clip clop along the street and acrobats on stilts smile at the audience while clapping their hands in the air. Everyone waving their arms hoping to take home the party favors of the event – FLOWERS.
Beginning in 1876, the 1st Bataille de Fleurs or Battle of Flowers emerged. Originally, young ladies dressed in their finest clothes and in decorated carriages paraded down the Promenade and exchanged bouquets of flowers with each other and admirers. Even though the event has evolved, the same elegance remains.
For the second year in a row, we have been lucky enough to be in Nice, France during Carnival. The Carnaval de Nice is one of the largest carnivals in the world. So it’s not surprising that the gathering just keeps getting better every year.
The first event we attended this year was Bataille de Fleurs. The Battle of Flowers has a completely different ambiance than other carnaval events. First, it takes place seaside along the Promenade des Anglais. Second, replacing the traditional papier mache floats are spectauraly decorated floats adorned with beautiful flowers. Riding on these floats and throwing flowers into the stands are women dressed in exquisite costumes with elaborate hairstyles making little girls wish they could be just like these Princesses of the carnaval.
5 Reasons Not to Miss the Nice Carnival Battle of Flowers
1. Floats – The 16 impeccable floats carry the theme of the carnaval in a more understated manner than than the parade floats. Riding down the Quai des Etats Unis, these meticulous flower displays on wheels delight the crowds. Our favorite of 2016 was the Twitter float.
2. Costumes – The costumed models ride on the floats in unique creations of billowing fabrics. The models smile and wave while tossing flowers to the enthusiastic crowds. I’m not sure if Lucy loved the the floats, flowers or costumes more. She (as I’m sure all the other little girls) would love the chance to be dressed up like a princess for the day.
3. Flowers – The Bataille de Fleurs provides guests the opportunity to take home flowers collected during the event. To start off, yellow flowers from the Mimosa tree are thrown into the stands. If you want to catch flowers during the flower parade, you need to be seated in the first 5 rows. However, people will actively try to grab the flowers and do not care if they knock you over in the process. It’s kind of like at a baseball game when someone hits a foul ball or a home run and everyone jumps to catch it, but of course they sting a lot less if they hit you in the face!! Even if you sit farther back in the stands, you have the opportunity to catch flowers. Some of the flower throwers have good arms and are able to toss the flowers quite far into the stands.
Regardless of your seat, don’t miss hanging around until the end of the “battle”. At the end of the parade the flowers are plucked from the floats and tossed into the crowds. This is the time to add roses, carnations, lilies, tulips, snapdragons and more to your bouquet. Most of the crowds start to clear out, so it’s easy to move forward and get some of the gorgeous flowers that were decorating the floats just moments earlier.
*Interesting Fact – 90% of the flowers used are produced locally on the French Riviera.
4. Performers from all over the wold – Spaced in between the floats are performers from all over the world providing entertainment to carnival goers. This year featured hula dancers, a traditional band, horses, acrobats, dancers, large balloons and more. While the floats definitely steal the show, these performers are impressive and leave you curious to see what they will come up with next.
The first day was windy and as I watched some of the girls in their cute, yet tiny costumes, I couldn’t help but feel bad for them out in the weather. Even though they were dancing and constantly moving, some of the costumes left a lot of skin uncovered and they must have been frozen by the end of the show.
5. Music – The energy of the Battle of Flowers is kept up with music blasting from loud speakers and accompanying some of the acts in between the floats. Most of the music is popular English hits, so Americans will feel right at home. It’s common to hear these songs played daily by French teens, meaning many French are also familiar with the tunes.
So what are K and Lucy’s favorite parts? Lucy’s is seeing the costumes and catching flowers for Mom. And no, I didn’t tell her to say that 🙂 K said, watching the floats, listening to music and seeing everyone be excited over catching the flowers and watching the performers.
The grandeur of the French Riviera Battle of Flowers keeps crowds coming back year after year. Nearly everyone leaves with flowers and a new appreciation for Mediterranean blossoms.
Watch clips from the Nice Carnival Battle of Flowers:
Can’t see the video? Click HERE
**Don’t miss my Ultimate Guide to Nice Carnival for more tips and carnival information.**
Disclosure: We were guests of the Nice Tourism board during Carnaval. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and may differ from others.