Held on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons during the Nice Carnival, the Bataille de Fleurs is a completely different animal from the regular Carnival Corso parades: It has its own floats (covered in flowers), a completely different ambiance of elegance and aesthetics, and whereas it unfortunately has no free zone, it makes up for it with party favors … if you stay to the end, you’ll leave with some blooms!
The ‘Battle’ in the Bataille de Fleurs originated in the 19th century, when Nice was the carnation-growing capital of France. The 1876 festival featured young ladies dressed in their finest with copious florals, parading down the Promenade… and pelting each other and the audience with flowers.
Don’t buy the top ticket for a seat (26€!), go for the 12€ standing zone (5€ for children 6-10): it’s not only much cheaper but infinitely more fun as you can circulate and jockey for position to catch the flying flowers raining down from the floats. Added bonus to the standing zone: if you get an estrogen overload from all the femininity in the air, you can walk against the flow, see it all in about 30 minutes, and make your escape. But staying until the end does have its rewards; the floats are plucked and the florals are flung or passed. And actually, at 12€ for the standing ticket, the price of admission is less than what you would spend for a bouquet.
To complement your experience, you can go floral all the way with an amazing flower-themed luncheon at Michelin-starred restaurant Keisuke Matsushima.
Update for 2017: Previously, the Bataille de Fleurs had a separate parade route along the seaside, but this year it is being moved to the same new route as the regular Carnaval, starting at Place Massena (for the seating area), and winding around the Promenade du Paillon gardens for the standing area. Buy your tickets online to avoid the crowds, (otherwise at the ticket booths which open at 11am on the day of the event). Also, there is less throwing of flowers this year and more of hostesses just passing them out, which is decidedly less fun.
The floral parades start at 2:30pm, so to walk it in reverse, best to arrive late (3:15ish) and enter on the North side, using entry E6 by rue Chauvain.
Related Page: Insider tips on how to do the Nice Carnival
Photo credit: Bataille de Fleurs by Zil, licensed under Creative Commons