It’s almost noon on a winter Saturday in Nice. There is not a single cloud in the sky and the temperature is above 15 degrees. That’s not unusual in February on the French Riviera.

What is not normal however, are the people in the streets. They are not looking like busy weekend shoppers. Tourists form long lines to get a ticket, kids wear costumes and make up, and all access to Massena Square has been blocked. It’s the busiest day of the carnival. Backstage, young models of the Bataille des Fleurs are getting ready for their third flower parade. Makeup, hairdressing, fitting, snack.

A dream she had since she was a little girl is becoming reality for Siam Knecht. The 18 year old young biology student used to watch the flower parade with her parents. She never thought that one day she be the queen, sitting on top of her float and greeting the crowd. “I am so proud to represent Nice. The carnival is important for the city. It’s an exciting experience I will not forget, but it’s team work,” she told hiEurope.

At 3pm, the parade kicks off. the models dance, turn around the square and the promenade du Paillon pathway. It starts with the queen float with the two runner-ups, followed by the wagons with energy themes. Hydro flowers, cascades, oceanic power, atomic gardens, gas pumps are just a few of the decorations.

After the first round, the models start to throw the mimosa and other flowers at the public. They are helped by a group of entertainers dressed in red and black, the colors of Nice. Within minutes, the stands have become yellow, creating a poetic atmosphere. The floats carry tons of mimosa and 250 000 carnations, gerbera, snapdragons and orchids with them. The crowd is in an awe.

Carnival, a Giant Party

Hours later, around 9 pm, the carnival parade offers a very different show. The audience here is younger and much noisier. Massena Square turns into an open-air night club with a DJ mixing old and today’s popular songs. People from all ages are dancing and singing, kids are playing with confetti. Groups of entertainers have been warming the crowd for some time. Some of the dancers make surprising appearances in the middle of the crowd, not to mention the flying objects and inflatable creatures.