Sunday, January 28, 2018

Le Carnaval de Nice (The Nice Carnival, France)

Because of my upcoming right knee surgery I won't be able to write a post for awhile.  I was going to wait until summer for this second knee surgery but the surgeon had a cancellation in a few days, and my knee is super painful now and prevents me from doing much.  I thought about writing a post but do not wish to talk about surgery, or my husband's Alzheimer's disease which is progressing - I may have posts on those subjects later on, but I wished to write about something fun, alive and French.  I have been unable to go back to France, my country of origin, since 2014, because of my husband's illness, and I miss it.  In 2012 we spent some time in Nice, one of my favorite cities.  Unfortunately, most of those photographs are still in Georgia, I just have a couple here with me in Nashville: a panorama, buying a souvenir, getting ready to take a picture of an old street and my husband eating Turkish sweets in our studio in Nice.

I have written about Nice in several posts.  Look at my July 20, 2013 post Nice and the Tour de France,  and at my addendum to my post of July 15, 2016 - here. The Nice Carnival is coming up and that is a fun subject!  First of all the word "carnival" is very old.  If you look for it in the American web, after you go through many entries on the Carnival Cruise Line, it will tell you that "Carnival is a Western Christian festive season that occurs before the liturgical season of Lent.  The main events typically occur during February or early March, during the period historically known as Shrovetide (or Pre-Lent.)"  Not quite, though.  As usual, the early Christian church took over the carnival festivities, as they did with many other festivals and holidays, such as the Christmas tree, etc., from the Pagans.  The carrus navalis was the boat on which Dionysos, god from the sea, entered the Greek Islands.  It is the oldest definition and pre-dates the Christian one.  It was in winter and was ritualized to bring back spring and thus the New Year.  Primitive men adorned themselves with animal skins.  Dionysos, below, from an early Tunisian mosaic.

This year the Carnival of Nice will be held from February 17 through March 3, 2018.  The carnival is opened by its "king."  The topic of the carnival is taken from the King's theme.  For example in 1890 it was the King of the Bicycle, in 1908 a Diplomat King, in 1927 King of Toys, in 1953 King of the Circus, in 1995 King of Movies, in 2010 King of the Blue Planet, in 2012 King of Sports, in 2016 King of Media and this year it is "King of Space" (Roi de l'Espace.)  It includes 6 carnival parades, by day and night, with more than 1000 dancers and musicians from all over the world along 17 made-up floats.  It also includes the traditional battle of flower parades with flower decorated floats and extravagant costumed models.  The Carnaval de Nice is the largest and oldest carnival in the world and the most important festival on the French Riviera.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

The Carnival of Nice was first mentioned in 1294 by the Count of Provence, Charles Anjou, who said he had "passed some joyous days of carnival in its good city of Nice."  The carnival of today started in the 19th century.  In 1873 a Committee for French Festivals re-organized the carnival of Nice.  They established the first street parades to provide a real spectacle for the community.  It became an annual celebration.  On various days throughout the Carnival, "Batailles de Fleurs" / battles with flowers, take place and thousand of fragrant fresh-cut flowers are thrown to the crowds from the floats.

In 2009 the carnival attracted 1.2 million visitors.  The carnival brought together 1,500 street artists and 1,800 people as security guards, escorts, trackers, etc.  It required 4,000 hours of work spread over six month, twenty tons of confetti, fifteen countries, 190 journalists, media from 19 countries and a lot more.  The Nice Carnival has been famous for a very long time.  Below are some vintage postcards on the carnival.

In addition to postcards, attractive posters have been created along the years, some by well-known artists.  The poster in the heading is courtesy Christian Estrosi, current Mayor of Nice.

Wouldn't you love to attend this famous carnival in Nice?  I certainly would!  How much fun to be there and watch the grand parade with all the themed floats and large puppets and all the attendants in outrageous costumes.  The floats parade around the streets of Nice, day and night.  On the last day of the celebration the King Carnival, who this year is the King of Space, and stands in the main float, is burned in the Baie des Anges.  This amazing spectacle is accompanied by a massive firework and music.  Oh la la!

Being France, they love to make fun at politicians, French and international.  This year the president of the USA, Donald Trump, will be depicted as a giant gorilla.  I read in a French newspaper that in one or more floats giant caricatures of Donald Trump, Theresa May, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin will be included as leaders of the "Planet of the Apes."  It is not surprising as in just one year the median global approval of U.S. leadership has fallen badly, according to a recent Gallup poll (the largest single-year decline.)  After just six months of Trump, confidence in the U.S. leadership fell 75 percentage points in Germany, 70 points in France, 57 points in Britain and 54 points in Japan.  So, no wonder they love to make fun of him, really all over the world.  Below is a worker making his final touches on the Nice Carnival puppet.  ( Courtesy of WAPO.)

This year's theme is drawing on real-life recent events that have been in the news, such as new solar systems being discovered daily, the upcoming sight-seeing trip around the moon, and events in science and education as well as news from world politics.  Some people may not approve of this, but this is untamed France with a long history of satire, as you can remember with the famous newspaper Charlie Hebdo.  (See my post of January 22, 2015 Charlie Hebdo and French Satire.)  This newspaper says "Charlie Hebdo is a punch in the face... Against those who try to stop us thinking.  Against those who fear imagination.  Against those who don't like us to laugh ... Charlie Hebdo has no need of God, nor any need of Wall Street.  Charlie doesn't need two cars and three cell phones to be happy.  To be happy, Charlie Hebdo draws, writes, interviews, ponders and laughs at everything on this earth which is ridiculous, giggles at all that is absurb or preposterous in life.  Which is to say - very nearly eveything.  Because life is so awfully short that it would be a pity to spend it whining in dismay instead of laughing it up a storm."  And more.  What better way to chase off the gloom of winter, health problems and disillusion in world politics than going to a fun carnival in beautiful Nice?  In Nissa la Bella! (shown below along the Nice hymn sung in the Nice dialect.)


ELFI said...

dommage que nous ne pouvons pas participer et fêter...
mais les photos donnent un joli aperçu !
bonne chance...pour l'opération! bises

Colette said...

Thank you for this! I enjoyed it very much.

Colette said...

and best wishes regarding the knee surgery!

Anna said...

Good luck with your Surgery

Z said...

I hope your surgery goes well and I applaud your decision to write a cheerful post. I think it helps. It's not that you don't acknowledge or talk about the rest but it sometimes is more uplifting to write something to take oneself away from that.

Thérèse said...

Une belle vue sur Nice et ses plaisirs, nous y avons passé Noël l'année dernière et ce fut une excellent expérience loin du carnaval, j'ai du mal avec la foule et les feux d'artifice... mais près des gens et des musées plus les magnifiques promenades sur les hauteurs. Un bon souvenir car je m'attendais à moins intéressant.
Bonne chance pour ce second genou, une seconde jeunesse en vue.

Mary said...

Wishing you a successful surgery and fast recuperation - and bright Spring days ahead when you are able to get out and about again, perhaps not home to France, but at least locally. Sorry to learn that your dear husband's health continues to fail - my prayers are with him also.

Very colorful and interesting post today - thanks for sharing this Carnivale which, quite honestly, I was not aware of. It's lengthy - must be exhausting for the locals!

Take care and good luck - keep us updated after your hospital visit.
Warm hugs - Mary

DJan said...

I am so happy to see this post and to hear from you that you will soon have a new knee. I am hoping it all goes well and that you will be once again able to walk without pain. Sending you all of my love and best wishes for a successful surgery. And also sending lots of virtual hugs! :-)

donna baker said...

Nice is the prettiest place I've ever been.

David said...

Hi Vagabonde... Best of luck with your knee surgery! That will be the next one for me. To date 2 hip replacements, 2 carpal tunnel surgeries and a prostate removal. Aging isn't for sissies, that's for sure!

Nice post about Nice... :)! We've never been to France and the only carnival that I've been to was Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Flowers in Nice vs. beads and faux coins in New Orleans. I have a feeling that the event in Nice is a bit more civilized and orderly.

We did make it to Scotland and Ireland in 2017 and I've been posting about our adventures on my blog site ever since we returned! It was a very relaxed and enjoyable trip.

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

bayou said...

Dear Vagabonde, so good to have such a colourful post from you, Nice is so nice ;-) I do understand that you are homesick and hope that you get a bit of compensation through the internet and TV and all medias. Wishing you good luck for your knee surgery and look forward to hear from you soon again. Bon courage et des gros bisous, Anke

Kay said...

This looks like so much fun. That Trump float would scare anybody almost as much as the real thing.

Jenn Jilks said...

What glorious memories you must have!

Good luck with your surgery. So many people are having it done, I'm sure you will be great afterwards.
Take care with your hubby. Mine has cancer. They are a worry, aren't they!
(ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

Magic Love Crow said...

Hello my friend! Great to see you! Wishing you all the best for your knee surgery! I pray everything else is going well with your family! That Trump face is scary! LOL! I would love to see this carnival! Big Hugs!

Jeanie said...

I'm glad to see you writing again. I know your posts take a tremendous time to craft, between research and photos, and they are always so appreciated and so interesting.

I didn't realize you had moved until your Christmas card arrived and then mine to you was returned! I hope you got the resent one. It must be so difficult settling in a new space when you have been dealing with knee surgery and more to come. I am hoping it will go well. Sending you only good wishes!

Down by the sea said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery following your operation, It was wonderful to see the Carnival celebrations! Sarah x

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, thank you for this most informative posting on the carnival in Nice. I learned so much. The truth is that from every one of your postings I learn things!

I hope your knee surgery goes well and that soon you will be without pain. I had my right knee totally replaced in April 2010 and that surgery was a total success. It continues to be successful.

Have I ever mentioned to you the writer Martin Walker? His novels take place in southern France and his main character--Bruno--is not only the policeman of the small town there but is a wonderful cook and a delightful Frenchman. I think you might like these books. Peace.

claude said...

Hello Vagabonde !
(j'espère que tu as reçu mon mail)
Nice est une très belle ville, nous l'avions visité dans les années 90. Nous y sommes retournés avec nos amis Américains en 2012, impossible de trouver une place pour la voiture, la Promenade des Anglais étant interdite au stationnement. On aurait pu marcher mais notre ami a du mal, d'ailleurs, depuis, il n'est pas trop en bon état le pauvre.
On voit des reportages à la télé sur le carnaval.
Par contre j'aimerais bien aller à la fête des citrons de Menton.
Je t'embrasse

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

This post had me smile. I love France too. Carnical ha;ppened in my background culture too but here in Canada does very little related to that heritage. I am hopping your knee surgery will bring you the better health you hope for. Sending you good positive vibes.

Denise Covey said...

Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your knee pain, so it's good that the surgery was pushed forward. By now, you've probably been under the knife. I hope all went well and soon you'll be pain free.
Thanks for this beautiful homage to Nice, one of my favorite cities in France. Was there only a few months ago. Love the old posters and the photographs. It was a real treat to come by and read.
Once again, all best wishes to you...:-)

chlost said...

Hello again. I haven't stopped in to read your posts for quite a while. But we visited Nice last April, and were stunned by the beauty of that area. I loved it. I have never been a fan of huge crowds, so I enjoyed the chance to see the Carnival here, rather than actually being there!

I hope your knee surgery went well. I am trying to decide on a time for mine as well. I have had one already, and it is hard to make that decision. Probably for the best that it came up quickly!

Hope you are back online soon.

Elephant's Child said...

Thinking of you, hoping the surgery was a huge success and wishing you and your husband well.

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