WINTER FESTIVALS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR

by MPI Traveler on January 22, 2014

Winter Festivals on the Côte d'AzurWinter Carnavals on the Cote D’Azur

by Vivian Thomas

As if sunny days, mild temperatures and blossoming mimosa weren’t enough, February also brings three fun festivals to the Côte d’Azur. For the second year in a row, the three cities—Nice, Menton and Mandelieu-La Napoule—have coordinated the dates of their festivals so that visitors can take advantage of all the parades, floats, activities and exhibits during the festival weeks from February 14 through March 5.Nice Carnivale

Parades, flower-decorated floats and revelers fill the streets of Nice as the city celebrates its traditional Mardi Gras Carnival. Highlights are the corsos, or parades of colorful floats, led by the King and Queen of the Carnival and showered by tons of rainbow-hued confetti; the Grosses Têtes, giant figures that accompany the floats; and the Batailles des Fleurs, floats decorated with thousands of the gorgeous flowers that grow on the Côte d’Azur: roses, mimosa, carnations, gladiolus, daisies and other blossoms. Musicians and dancers from all over the world add to the fun. February 14 through March 4. www.nicecarnaval.com

Menton’s annual Lemon Festival sparkles with day and night parades, floats decorated with more than 100 tons of citrus fruit and giant citrus “sculptures” in parks and gardens. This year’s festival is the 81st Fête du Citron in this lovely town on the Italian border. The city’s many gardens celebrate citrus fruit with guided tours, and the fruit can also be enjoyed in citrus-themed dishes in local restaurants, artisanal marmalades and confitures, and cocktails. February 15 through March 5. www.feteducitron.comwww.tourisme-menton.fr

The Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu-La Napoule focuses on the brilliant yellow flower native to Australia that flourished so well on the Côte d’Azur that a profession called mimosiste appeared—specialists in the cultivation and forcing of mimosa. The flower, exported from La Napoule to the north of France and to foreign countries, became an important part of the local economy, and the first Mimosa Festival honored the blossom in 1931. Today, 12 tons of local mimosa blooms adorn the festival’s floats and other decorations; there are daytime parades and illuminated night parades; a Mimosa Queen is elected, and there’s even a Route du Mimosa, an 80-mile itinerary from Bormes-les-Mimosas to Grasse, that winds through the region’s perfumed, mimosa-covered hills. February 14-23. www.ot-mandelieu.fr

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