Semester in Lyon: Celebrating at the Nice Carnival

SPM blogger Alexa Buechler traveled down to Nice, France to participate in one of the world's largest carnivals

The Nice Carnival is one of the world’s largest carnival events. This year, it was held from Feb. 17 until March 3. 

The Nice Carnival dates back to the Middle Ages but became an official event in 1873. It was intended to chase off the gloom of winter and celebrate the upcoming spring.

This year, my friends and I joined the celebration. 

We got on a bus Saturday, March 3, at 2 a.m. and rode for seven hours to the south of France. Around 11 a.m., we checked into our Airbnb, which was hosting people from all over (not necessarily for the carnival). 

The weather started out a bit grim and rainy, but once the sun came out, it felt so warm compared to the wintery Lyon I’d grown used to.

We came for the last day of the carnival, which was themed this year as “Le Roi de l’Espace” or “The King of Space.” The city was still super lively. The narrow streets bustled with people, and kids in costumes flocked the parks around the festival. 

We took the day to explore Nice. We went to an open-air flea market and through the streets that eventually took us to the French Riviera

I’ve never lived near an ocean before, so I appreciate it so much when I do get to go. Something about running from the waves and trying to find seashells, sea glass or even pretty rocks makes me feel like a child. 

For dinner, we tried traditional Nice soccas, which are similar to crêpes or pancakes, but made out of chickpeas and usually paired with more savory items like cheese, onions, peppers or tomatoes. 

Then we made our way to the light parade. Some of my friends donned masks, and one of them even bought confetti to throw up in the air.

I don’t think I could’ve been prepared for how political this parade was. 

A lot of it was similar to a typical parade: dancers, marching bands and themed floats. I saw aliens and planets for the “King of Space” theme. 

And then there was the float with President Donald Trump’s head on an ape’s body, pounding its fists against its chest next to Theresa May straddling Big Ben. Behind Trump was a crying and bleeding Lady Liberty. 

Behind Lady Liberty, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – the president of Turkey who is currently under protest for trying for an additional term past the term limit – was slapping his own bare bottom, and Vladimir Putin was just standing there with his hands moving up and down on a laptop.

The first political float I saw at the light show at the Nice Carnival in Nice, France on March 3, 2018.

That wasn’t the end of it either. About half an hour later, another political float started toward us: Trump directing a rocket that had Kim Jong-un’s head sticking out of it with a helmet that said “Rocketman.”

One of the floats with President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un that I saw in Nice, France on March 3, 2018.

The U.S. wasn’t the target of every political satire float. There were many Brexit roasts and even one of the French President Emmanuel Macron being whipped by Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany.

The parade finished with enormous amounts of confetti being blown out of cannons into the audience. 

I woke up the next morning with confetti still in my hair and in my jacket pockets because I was so tired that I hadn’t had the effort to even brush through my hair the night before.

Then we headed home to Lyon to finally crash in our own beds.

Reach the blogger at or follow  @alexa_buechler on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this blog are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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