Held on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons during the Nice Carnaval (February 17-March 3, 2018), 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, plus it has 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.
Insider tip: To complement your experience, have a pre-parade luncheon at Michelin-starred restaurant Keisuke Matsushima, where you can go floral-all-the-way with an amazing flower-themed set menu. Check their website under ‘menus’ nearer to Carnaval to see what’s on offer, and then reserve early.
Update for 2018: Previously, the Bataille de Fleurs had a separate parade route along the seaside, but since last year it runs the same route as the the regular Carnaval, which in 2018 will start at Place Massena (for the seating area), and will wind around the gardens clockwise for the standing area.
To walk it in reverse, best to arrive late (3:15ish) and enter on the North side, using entry E2 by rue Paradis, or E1 off the Prom by the Hotel Le Meridien.
Insider tip: It’s not very glam, but the best view without paying for a ticket is the second floor of the McDonald’s at the Hotel Le Meridien. For more of a bird’s eye view (plus cocktails!), the roof terrace of the B4 Plaza Hotel is nice…
Buy your tickets online to avoid the crowds at the ticket booths, which open at 11am for the parade which starts at 2:30pm.
Related Page: Insider tips on how to do the Nice Carnival
Photo credit: Bataille de Fleurs by Zil, licensed under Creative Commons