France’s Best Carnival’s | The Top 10 places in France to Celebrate Carnival!

Here are the top ten places in France to celebrate carnival.
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    Nice Carnival

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Nice?

    Nice Carnival is the biggest and best carnival in France. It also happens to be one of the oldest carnival celebrations in the whole world. Its roots date way back to its pagan beginnings which date back to the 13th century and maybe even longer. The beautiful Mediterranean city of Nice for 12 days prior to Lent is filled with parades, parties, costumes, puppets and more.

    Nice Carnival is the biggest winter event in the French Riviera attracting over 1 million visitors every year. The carnival is known for featuring the incredible papier-mache puppets that are considered incredible works of art and use centuries old techniques.

    Nice Carnival has many parades but its most famous event is the parade called The Battle of Flowers or Bataille de Fleurs. The Battle of Flowers features incredible flower decorated floats throwing some 20 kilograms of fresh cut flowers into the crowd. Around 100,000 fresh-cut flowers are thrown to the crowd.

    Day and night the streets of Nice are filled with people selling gifts, food, drinks, provincial items like lavender and more. On the last night the Carnival King is burnt while an incredible firework display occurs over the Mediterranean.

    Read more about carnival here.

    Limoux Carnival

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Limoux?

    There are not many carnival seasons that run for three months!! But the annual Limoux Carnival or Carnaval de Limoux in French does. Limoux Carnival declares itself the longest carnival in the world and begins at the start of January and continues right until the start of Lent. Carnival in Limoux has been officially celebrated ever since 1694!

    Every year the beautiful medieval city of Limoux comes alive with the sights and sounds of Carnival. This celebration brightens up the winter months and is an important part of Limoux’s cultural identity and heritage. Limoux Carnival is celebrated in the town’s traditional language Occitan.

    Well the French love a party and the Limoux Carnival is no exception, it is one heck of a party! For over 400 years, thousands of people from all over fill the square in the centre of Limoux for parades, parties, exhibitions and all sorts of events. It is tradition to drink the town’s famous white sparkling wine known as “Blanquette de Limoux”.

    Lemon Festival

    10 france carnivals

    Every February, the quaint town of Menton in the French Riviera hosts one of the most popular events in France; Fête du citron or in English the Lemon Festival. The Lemon Festival is a unique event that celebrates citrus fruits and attracts 300,000 visitors every year.

    The Lemon Festival is celebrated in the same way as a carnival with parades and floats, but it is called a festival. It is the second largest event in the French Riviera after the Nice Carnival. The Lemon Festival has been taking place ever since 1928 and is organised by the Tourist Office.

    Read our Ultimate Guide to The Menton Lemon Festival. 

    Annecy Venetian Carnival

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Annecy?

    Every year during the wintertime an elegant carnival takes place in the French Alps town of Annecy. The carnival sees people wearing fantastic Venetian-style masks, the Annecy Venetian Carnival is one of the most stunning in France and attracts thousands of tourists every year who come to see the beautiful costumes set against the romantic snow-capped mountains of Annecy.

    Annecy Venetian Costumes is essentially a Venice Carnival in the French Alps. People come wearing beautiful Venetian-style masks and 18th century costumes. The carnival takes place over three days and re-creates the magic of Venice Carnival with hundreds of people from all over Europe taking part in the parade.

    Dunkirk Carnival

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Dunkirk?

    Dunkirk Carnival is the most popular and certainly the largest carnival in Northern France. It runs from the end of January to mid-March every year. It takes place mainly on the weekends and occasionally on weekdays. The carnival prides itself on being the noisiest and most mental carnival of its kind. It’s full of music, satire and a general sense of madness.

    Dunkirk Carnival started back in the 18th century as a special feast before the fishermen would set sail in ice and dangerous Icelandic water to capture lucrative cod. Dunkirk Carnival is a local carnival with lots of local games and songs that might leave outsiders confused. Carnival sees fishermen bands that confront each other in the streets and perform songs while parading through the streets.

    Paris Tropical Caribbean Carnival

    10 france carnivals

    Every Summer Paris gets taken over with a tropical Caribbean vibe when the Paris Tropical Carnival or Carnaval Tropical de Paris comes to the French Capital. Each year Paris is filled with the most vibrant colours, Caribbean tunes, exotic dances and lots of rum that transfers you from the middle of Europe to a tropical location.

    Paris Tropical Carnival is the highlight and one of the most anticipated events of the Parisian summer. The carnival is all about ‘joie de vivre’ which means bringing joy to all. It is an enchanting carnival that celebrates and lets you experience different cultures from around the world without ever having to leave Paris.

    Read more about carnival here.

    Mulhouse Carnival in Alsace

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Mulhouse?

    The Mulhouse Carnival takes place at the end of February when the city of Mulhouse erupts for a weekend of traditional fun and festivities. Between the period of 1920 and 1935, the Mulhouse Carnival was actually regarded as one of the greatest carnivals in France.

    The carnival stopped during World War II. It wasn’t restored until 1953 when a group of friends decided to revive the carnival. It wasn’t restored to its full glory of being the greatest carnival in France, but it is still one of the best carnival celebrations in France today attracting people from all over Europe. The carnival is full of satire and features an all-night parade. Bars and restaurants in the town stay open late, hosting lots of partying.

    Paris Carnival

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Paris?

    The Paris Carnival is a carnival celebration in the city of Paris. It occurs annually and is held after the Feast of the Fools. It has been held ever since the 16th century with a long break in the 20th century due to the war. Paris Carnival however is run by carnival societies that are similar to the New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes or Rio Samba Schools.

    The two big events of Paris Carnival are the Walk of Masks and the parades. The Walk of the Masks sees huge numbers of people in disguises parade through the streets. It is a prodigious contest of masks held every year on the last day of carnival. There are also the fat days of carnivals which are the days prior to the start of Lent when lots of feasting occurs.

    Carnival of Albi

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Albi?

    The Carnival of Albi in the beautiful city of Albi. The Albi Carnival is maybe one of the oldest in France. Carnival of Albi is a colourful pre-Lenten carnival that has taken place in Albi ever since the middle Ages. The carnival commences when the mayor hands over the keys to the Carnival Queen. The carnival sees evening parades full of costumes and floats that make their way through the city.

    Granville Carnival (Normandy)

    10 france carnivals

    What is carnival in Granville?

    Granville Carnival is one of the largest carnivals in Western France. Over 130,000 visitors come to take part in the carnival every year and the carnival has been going on for over a century. It originated with the cod fishermen who used to hold celebrations before they left for the sea.

    One of the most unique things about this carnival is an old tradition of the intrigue. On the Tuesday evening of this carnival the disguised in triggers who are just people in fancy-dress, parading through the city, head into bars, restaurants and even the homes of residents to recount myths and legends of the past.


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