Provence or more correspondently the modern administrative region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, is a region located south east of France, bordering Italy to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Provence has a wide range of distinctive features which differentiates it from the rest of France but what could be considered the most represented of Provence is classified as one of the largest events organised in Nice, the Mardi Gras.
The Mardi Gras is one of the most famous carnivals in the world alongside the Rio de Janeiro and Venice Carnival. The colourful event takes place during a two-week period in February and is a very important winter event that has been taking place dating back to the middles ages. What makes the Mardi Gras so significant is its rich culture and historical background. Mardi Gras, which translates to ‘Fat Tuesday’ is originally a catholic event. Mardi Gras and carnival refers to eating richer, fatty food before the ritual of fasting of the lent. Lent is a religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday, 26th of April and ends approximately six weeks later on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, the 9th of April. Meat was banished during the time of lent and so was sugar, ingredients containing fat, eggs and dairy products and thus the Mardi Gras is a festive season that brings in public celebrations, parades which is taken place in many French places and schools and is most notable seen in towns such as Nice and Paris. Before Ash Wednesday (the start of the fasting period of Lent) people celebrated in many diverse ways as it was their last chance until Easter to eat meat. Though this historic background has been faded the celebration is now used to chase off the gloom of winter in the hope of spring. Despite the name correlation, the Mardi Gras celebrations in France and Europe has a somewhat different meaning and history from the Mardi-Gras parade in Sydney.
What makes the festival stand out more then its rich background is the 2 unique parades: the carnival parade and the flower parade. The carnival parade is high quality, more modern parade with various floats. Visitors are often hit by confetti and silly string and the parade occurs during the night and day. It features floats and celebrations that lead up to the main 3 floats: The King’s, the Queen’s and Carnivalon’s, their son. There are around 1,000 musicians and dancers that work on these floats. The second parade Nice has to offer is the Flower Parade. The flower parade is filled with flower-decked floats placed right besides the sea. Performers are extremely well dressed and throw out a wide range of flowers out to the public. Each float includes about 3,000 stems of which 70% is produced in the Nice region and flower pricking takes 72 hours.