France is par excellence one of the countries with the best carnivals in the world. The carnivals in the French-speaking country are celebrated throughout the country, regardless of age or gender. France offers a wide range of carnival themes, ranging from traditional carnivals, Caribbean or even Venetian style. Each French city celebrates Carnival in its own unique and particular way. If you decide to visit the country, be sure to mark which festivals you want to go to, as some are celebrated on the same dates.
We accompany you to discover the top 10 Carnivals in France.
The city of Albi, located in the Tarn department in northern France, is the epicenter of one of the oldest carnivals in the entire country. The Carnival has been held in the city since the 15th century, specifically in 1484. However, the modern carnival that takes place today was not established until the mid-twentieth century.
The Albi Carnival is one of the most colorful and joyful celebrations in the region, featuring a large number of thematic and colorful allegorical floats. Every year, dozens of floats take to the streets of the city accompanied by people dressed as brujas, playazos, caballeros, damas and various creative costumes.
The Carnival Queen is one of the main figures of the festival. She is the one who receivesthe key of the city from the mayor, which represents asymbolic act of control of the city. The Carnival Queens are present in each of the events of the city, whether they are carnival or not.
The festivities also occupy a large number of samba groups. These groupings are made up of themusical bands and the bailarinas, which walk the streets in their characteristic costumes covered with feathers and glitter. In addition, porristas, bastoneros and percussion bands also make an appearance in the streets.
The Albi Carnival is usually held between the months of February and March.
The Carnival is held in the region of Normandy, department of Manche in northwestern France. Carnivals in the city have been celebrated since 1875, evolving and integrating new elements each year. Due to its great cultural importance and preservation of traditions, the Greville carnival has been recognized by Unesco as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.
The carnival festivities last for 5 days full of parades and carrots. All the madness begins when the mayor of the city offers the key of the city as a symbolic element to theKing of the Carnival. This ceremony makes the city become the epicenter of the craziest and most joyful party in Granville. During the festivities it is also celebrated with large amounts of food and typical holiday drinks in the country.
The Carnival is a wonderful satirical spectacle of dozens of carroques. These carroches allegoriques have themes, with which they express different satirical messages about the country’s politics and society. No one is spared from being the subject of mockery at parties, and the city’s residents know how to take humor to the next level without making too much effort.
The elaboration of the floats is no small feat, the artisans and assistants, approximately 2,500 people, work for months preparing the papier mache and assembling and building the different elements on the floats. These floats are part of great events that, in company of dancers and musicians, perform an incredible humorous and satirical work unique in its style.
The Granville Carnival will run from approximately February 12 to 16.
The capital of France is home to one of the hottest carnivals in the entire country. The Paris Caribbean Carnival is one of the most diverse events celebrated in the city. This event includes dozens of Caribbean groupings in parades and events. In addition, all the dance groups and samba schools of the city and the country are invited to participate in themost popular Caribbean festivities in France.
The Paris Caribbean Carnival emerged as a wonderful idea of integration of the diverse communities of the city and the country. Although the carnivals contemplate only theCaribbean carnivals, all are welcome to the festivities and parades. Every year, thousands of people who integrate cultural groups and guilds come to the Camps Elysees, also known as the most beautiful avenue in the world to party.
The streets become a wonderful stage that brings together thousands of people from diverse cultures and ethnicities. The capital city is covered with exotic and colorful costumes thanks to more than 30 groups from all over the world. Emigrants from Caribbean islands such as Martinique, Guadeloupe and many more take to the streets to give some musical and dance demonstrations. In addition, dozens of groups from Latin America also join the big celebration.
Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil are some of the countries present. These groups perform various dance pieces; among them caporales, samba and cumbia. In addition, other groups from different latitudes such as China and some African countries also perform.
The Tropical Carnival of Paris will be held approximately on July 14.
The city of Mulhouse, located in the Alsace region in southwestern France was once the largest and most important carnival celebration in the entire country. Unfortunately, the Second World War caused the carnivals to lose steam and luster. Today, the carnival is in constant growth, recovering spaces to rise from the ashes.
During the festivities, the city stops to carry out the great festivities of the happiest season of the whole year. More than100 carnival groups and associations join one of the city’s great events, crossing the streets on large floats. The colorful costumes, wigs and masks are not long in coming and come out to entertain all the public in the streets. At the same time, the characters and floats throw candy and confetti everywhere, making thousands of candies fly through the air to be caught by adults and children in the crowd.
The Waggis are the characters that dominate the celebration. These peculiar characters can also be found in some carnivals in Germany and Switzerland. Likewise, the Waggis are wacky characters with colorful wigs, white skin, exaggerated facial expressions andlarge and prolonged noses. These characters participate in the parades, both throwing candy and sweets, as well asplaying pranks and throwing confetti.
Thousands of people from adjacent countries such as Germany and Switzerland come every year to be part of the most popular celebrations in the city. On Saturday and Sunday nights, the Night Parades take place, which are the most popular and most attended events.
Mulhouse Carnival will take place from approximately February 18 to 21.
The Carnival in the capital of France have a somewhat particular trajectory. The festivities date back to the Middle Ages, but it was during the 18th century that it reached its peak. During that time, the mascot of the carnival was a large cow known as “Pimprenelle”, which participated in one of the main parades known as the “promenade du Boeuf Gras“. Unfortunately, the carnival died out for a long time due to war conflicts in the region, counting on a period of recess of several decades until the end of the 20th century.
Nowadays, the carnivals are developing more and more, trying to reach their former splendor, which they will surely obtain in a very short time. These carnivals are somehow a bit simpler, as the vast majority of the costumes are homemade. The varied themes make the costumes much more creative and fun, while retaining thetraditional spirit of the carnival.
Paris Carnival is the perfect opportunity for the serious and gruff characteristic of the Parisian to transform into an almost childlike and playful personality.Everyone takes to the streets to have fun in these wonderful festivities. The parades are the soul of the celebration, in which official and cultural groups from all over the country and the world participate.
The party peaks on the last days of carnival, culminating with thePromenade du Boeuf Gras parade. However, 3 weeks later, the carnival festivities continue in the capital with the Thursday of Mid-Lent, when a parade of queens and queens washerwomen takes place.
The Paris Carnival will be taking place on approximately February 14.
The city of Annecy, in eastern France, celebrates carnivals in a particular way, nothing like the traditional French carnivals. The Venetian Carnival of Annecy marks the difference between crazy and multitudinous carnivals, as it commemorates the class, the glamur and the sophistication of Venetian costumes and masks. The Venetian Carnival of Annecy.
The Venetian Carnival has been present in the city since March 1996, carried out by a small number of people who wanted to celebrate and commemorate the traditional Venetian festivities. The celebration grew like foam in terms of popularity, receiving dozens of participants the following year. In this way, the carnival began to grow exponentially over the years, consolidating itself as one of the events most similar to the original Venetian carnival.
The carnivals take place over 2 days, during which more than 300 masks and costumes take to the streets of the city of theFrench Alps. The event includes conferences, exhibitions, concerts and of course, parades. However, the parades are nothing like their sister carnivals in the rest of the country. The parades of the Venetian carnivals of Annecy are mostly walks, in which the participants model, parade and run through the city in a glamorous and refined manner.
The town of Anneny witnesses every year one of the most popular expressions of the area. Thousands of people flock to the streets to replicate almost exactly one of the most popular carnivals in the world and one that has influenced hundreds of celebrations around the world.
The Annecy Venetian Carnival will be held from approximately February 26 to 28.
The Festival or Lemon Festival in Menton is one of the most special and particular celebrations in the whole country. The event is held in the Alpes-Maritimes in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, in the southeast of the country. The Lemon Festival is like no other celebration, as it celebrates one of the most important local products: the lime.
The carnival had emerged for the first time in the year 1896 on the initiative of a group of hoteliers, who sought to generate extra income during the winter season. Thus, one of the most important products of the city became the main element in the festivities. Every year, the city of Menton makes incredible structures usinglemons and oranges. These structures are far from simple, as, with these citrus fruits, the city decorates dozens of floats that parade through the city and large structures that stretch for several meters in the streets of the city.
Every year, 145 tons of lemons are used to decorate floats and elaborate dozens of static structures in the streets of the city. The festival features two main attractions: the parades and the exhibitions of citrus patterns. To elaborate these marvelous structures, each lemon and orange is tied tightly to the initial structure of the floats and exhibitions, creating original and colorful patterns that embellish the city every year.
About 200,000 people come every year to see with their own eyes all the large structures made of bright yellow lemons. The city never sleeps, as parades and exhibitions are held during the day and at night, integrating new elements at each session.
The Carnival or Lemon Festival will run from approximately February 13 to March 2.
The Carnival in the town of Limoux, in the Occitania region in southwestern France, is probably one of the oldest celebrations in the entire country. The oldest records of the carnival date back to the 17th century, specifically 1605. Many theories indicate that some of the elements that are part of the celebration arose through the celebrations of the vintners of the city since Limoux and its adjacent areas are known for the cultivation of grapes and the manufacture of champagne and wine. Thus, there is a theory that some of the dance steps performed by the carnival characters come from the movements made when treading the grapes to make the drinks.
The celebration of the carnival in the city is not a game thing, sincethe event extends for up to 3 months, from December until the end of March or early April, making it one of the most extensive carnivals in the world. Celebrations take place only on weekends, Carnival week and Day of La Francophonie. During these celebrations almost exclusively music and dance predominate.
The groups that make up the carnivals in the city have various dresses and masks to go around the city until they reach the bars and cafes. There, they play with much more enthusiasm and make some pauses todance and interact with the public. During these stops the characters of the groups take the opportunity to throw kilos and kilos of confetti to all the spectators.
Also, the tunes are played during the entire route 3 times a day. Each hour of the ride has a different tune, which is adjusted to the time and theme of the pieces. During the morning, tunes and presentations with local news are performed, while at night lampas and bombillos are used to light the streets during the parades.
The Limoux Carnival runs from January to April.
The Dunkirk Carnivals are not just anything, they are among the most iconic, wild and crazy parties in all of France. Dunkirk is a fishing town located in northern France, which has been celebrating carnivals since the 17th century. These early carnivals were a pre-festivity that took place before the cod fishermen set out on the relentless pursuit and collection of fish. Because of the climatic consciences and the roughness of the sea on Icelandic stuff, carnivals at that time were almost a farewell, as it was uncertain whether the fishermen would return home.
The carnival celebration in the city of Dunkirk is a completefrenzy of costumes, music, celebration and dancing. Every year, more than 40,000 people take to the streets in a somewhat violent manner to demand the prized arenques, which are thrown from the city hall. Although it seems almost impossible; it is not, since these herrings are completely real, flesh and blood. People try to catch with great fuss some of the fish that are thrown from the window of the town hall.
The parades of the Dunkirk Carnival are also one of the main attractions. These parades are far from quiet, as they feature the participation of thousands of costumed people jostling, moving from side to side and dancing uncontrollably. The front line of the parade tries to barely contain the sea of people parading all the way to the city’s main square. As if that weren’t enough, the musical bands in the parades play tunes that thrill and intensify the already wild concentration of people.
TThe Dunkirk Carnival will take place on or about February 17.
The city of Nice boasts the most popular carnival in the entire country. Nice is located in the department of the Alpes-Maritimes Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, near the Italian border. Besides being undoubtedly the best known carnival in France, it is also one of the oldest, as it was first recorded in the year 1294, although the festivities at that time were still very primitive.
The Carnival of Nice is one of the most important events of all the French Riviera and probably of all France. Its festivities mainly feature great carnival shows incorporating dozens of themed floats, dancers, music bands and acrobats. In addition, it also has the particularity of having a new theme each year, with which a large number of events and activities are developed.
The carnivals feature 3 main parades: Bataille de Fleurs, Corso Carnavalesque Illuminé and Corso Carnavalesque – Parade Nissarda, also known as Battle of the Flowers, Parade of Lights and Carnival Parade – Parade Nissarda. Each of these events has its own personality, characteristics and theme. In addition, all of these feature large floats that tour specific points of the city in front of thousands of people.
The events feature at least 18 different floats that are the result of months of work and the collaboration of thousands of people. Each ofthe floats has particular characteristics and can be completely covered with flowers, lights or adorns. The large structures are mainly made with papier-mâché and feature a great perception of detail, color and design..
Every year at least 1 million people come to see the gigantic carriages at least 18 meters long. During all the parades, kilos and kilos of confetti are disproportionately thrown. The floats throw the confetti with large machines that drop around 20 tons of colorful paper every year.
The Nice Carnival will take place from approximately February 13 to 27.