What does Carnival mean in French

Carnival: this is how France celebrates!

France also celebrates Carnival (French. carnaval) - but very different from us. In the hexagon, the fooling around not only lasts until Ash Wednesday (French. mercredi des cendres), but sometimes well into Lent.

The highlight is Mardi Gras, the fat Tuesday. Carnival Tuesday is the last day before Lent. And, although there is less and less fasting, this is celebrated and enjoyed particularly exuberantly.

Always include crepes and thin donuts, bugnes. In the southwest they are called merveilles, in Provence oreillettes. Napoleon was suspicious of the foolish goings-on. He had the celebrations banned because he feared revolutions.

Today Carnival marks the only time in France where you can hide your face. The rest of the year there is a ban on covering.

Carnival in France: the most beautiful festivals


The Albi has been celebrating carnival in the Tarn Valley with two large parades since the Middle Ages. The carnival floats with giant paper mache dolls pull the défilé Rire & Dérizion on Sundays through the city center.


40 kilometers from Toulouse and 75 km from Toulouse you can feel like you are in Venice in mid-March. Then Castres celebrates for a weekend to his Carnaval Venitien!

The small town in 1901 with Jean Jaurès the founder of the Parti Socialiste was born, the agout flows through it. It therefore proudly calls itself the “Venice of the Tarn”. Masked people from Venice always come to the Carnival.


Dunkerque (Dunkirk), along with Le Portel and Bailleul, is one of the carnival strongholds in northern France. Although it wasn't revived until 1988, that is Carnaval de Dunkerque a huge spectacle today. For three months he filled all the streets and squares of the city center with people.

Always led by a drum major in the old uniform of the grenadiers, the carnivalists (carnavaleux) parade through the port city on the English Channel.

The climax of the carnival is the jet de harengs: Mayors and city councilors throw herrings at the crowd from the balcony of the town hall: Fish market flair at Mardi Gras!

The herring litter reminds of the origins of the foolish activity, which was first mentioned in January 1676. Back then, Dunkerque was an important port for cod fishermen.

Before the dangerous journey to the fishing grounds off Iceland began again, the seafarers celebrated the last day before the new fishing season with a feast and received half of their wages as hand money.

The “Visschersbende” emerged from the foye. It was celebrated on three days - Rose Monday to Ash Wednesday. To this day they are called the 3 Joyeuses. A specialty of the Dunkerquerker Carnival are the umbrellas on high pieces that the masked people wear.


Limoux in the south of Carcassonne has been celebrating the "longest carnival in the world" for more than three months for more than 400 years. Since 2012 the carnival has been part of the intangible world heritage of UNESCO, since 2016 also the foolish spectacle of Granville in the north of France.

What you can experience in Limoux is also really unique. Every weekend, on Carnival Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and for Wed Carême Fecos and Goudils mysteriously masked through the streets. Some wear white face masks (“careta”) or Pierrot costumes, others have blackened faces or hide in elaborate, motley costumes.

Both P.araden in Limoux pull the participants through the city in Pierrot costumes and with mysterious-looking masks. The parades deal with local political and sports events.

After three months, the Carnival King ends at the Nuit de la Blanquette jokes and lets the straw doll, which had been carried through the streets representing the sins of the townspeople, hang or burn. Of course, this also flows Blanquette, the city's sparkling wine, pouring down.


The most famous carnival in the Antilles is colorful and full of Caribbean flair. Originally it was celebrated in Saint-Pierre. After the city was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of the Montagne Pelée in 1902, it was relocated to Fort-de-France.

Vaval, King of Carnival, leads the parades through the streets of the capital. They follow him bwabwas (Wooden puppets) that Mariyann ​​la po g (Costumed in dried banana leaves) that Nèg gwo siwowho have smeared their bodies with syrup and honey, the devilish Les Diablesseswho, as seductresses, drive every man to death, and finally the red devils with their African masks.


Don't join in, just watch: The Nice Carnival is not a folk festival in masks, but a mega-show planned by the Office de Tourisme with general staff with parades, parades and flower parade, which you can watch standing or from the seats in the stands at a suitable distance.

The carnival was first mentioned as early as 1294. Charles d’Anou, Count of Provence, reported back then about “happy carnival days” in the city. Dancing balls, costume parties, Provencal folk dances shaped the program at the time, and making fun of everyone and everything at the expense of everyone was the topic. Masks and disguises supported this freedom of expression.

Staged shows

In the Belle Epoque, which attracted “better society” from home and abroad, the folk festival turned into a show. In 1873 the carnival received a festival committee that introduced the carnival parades, float draftsmen, chargeable stands and a structured staging. Three years later, the Flower Corsi followed on the Promenade des Anglais.

They were invented by Andriot Saëtone - as an answer to the tradition of the time of throwing eggs and flour into the crowd during the carnival procession. This custom did not suit Nice society. Initially just a simple exchange of flowers, the Corsi are now the choice of local florists.

72 hours before each battle, 3,000 flowers per wagon are meticulously put into masterpieces: 50,000 flowers and five tons of mimosas for each move! 18 models throw the flower greetings from the floats into the audience.

In 2019 everything revolves around the “King of the Cinema” at the Nice Carnival - because in 2019 Nice will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Studios de la Victorine. The studio was founded in 1919 with the aim of founding a European Hollywood in Nice. Hitchcock, Renoir, Truffaut and other great directors had their cameras rolling there.

During the day the move is impressive, at night the light effects make it a simply grandiose spectacle. The carnival is complemented by a packed program that also extends to the city districts. Try the local specialty socca at the Socca Party on February 18 and 25 from 11 a.m. in the Jardin Albert 1er. There is a recipe for the tasty and inexpensive flatbread made from chickpea flour here.


All carnival parades and flower battles take place within a completely secured and closed area. The train route runs around the Paillon Promenade (Place Masséna, Avenue Max Gallo - formerly Avenue des Phocéens - Promenade des Anglais and Avenue de Verdun). You will find the grandstands on Place Masséna. There are standing room in two zones - Zone A (Place Masséna), Zone B around the Jardin Albert 1er. You needed tickets for grandstands and standing room; Children under five receive a free children's ticket (“ticket enfant gratuit”).

At all entrances there are controls with security gates. You have to open bags or backpacks, jackets and coats and you will sometimes be scanned briefly. So be there at least an hour in advance! The carnival procession with lighting and the carnival procession with the Parada Nissarda will be broadcast live on nice.fr and nicecarnaval.com!


The capital has also been celebrating carnival again since 1997. An association had that Carnaval de Paris revived back then. It begins with a parade that starts in front of the town hall of the 20th arrondissement on Place Gambetta. The parade is as colorful as it is loud - with giant marionettes, bands and drummers from South America. Exactly one month later, on March 18th, the will followCarnaval des Femmes and the Fête des Reines des Blanchisseuses at Mi-Carême.

The day in the middle of Lent between Ash Wednesday and Easter is a typically French peculiarity. He allowed them to take a short break from Lent - and use the eggs left over from Mardi Gras to bake crepes. There were also relocations that day. But then as cavalcades, as a parade on horseback, for which the local laundromats Mi-CarêmeQueen was raised.


Alemannic Guggen musicians, samba dancers and China dragons: the carnival in Strasbourg is not a traditional event, but only came into being in 1995 - as a mix of carnival customs from all over the world.

Exactly at 2:11 p.m., the parade of the 13 “bidolos” (carnival floats), music groups and masked people begins at Parc de l’Etoile and crosses the city center for two kilometers. Via Rue de la Brigade Alsace Lorraine, Place d’Austerlitz, Rue des Orphelins, Rue de Zurich, Quai des Pêcheurs, Avenue de la Marseillaise and Aavenue de la Liberté, the parade reaches Place de l’Université at around 4 p.m.


He was absent for 20 years. It has been celebrated again since 2011: The Carnaval de Toulouse has developed into one of the largest carnival festivals in France within a few years. Every year, the three-hour défilé attracts more than 80,000 spectators with 1,500 masked people, street art and dozens of carnival floats that throw more than two tons of confetti at the people.

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