Nice Carnival is Europe's answer to Rio and certainly the biggest in France. The capital of the Côte d'Azur will be awash with colour in a couple of weeks, as noisy as a carnival can be with women wearing outrageous costumes and headgear.
The theme in 2013 is King of the 5 Continents, paying homage to the universality of the carnival tradition. Get into the groove with 1000 dancers and join the Niçois as they turn their streets into places of wonderment and during the Battle of Flowers, pretty girls will hurl out around 80,000 blooms by the end of the carnival.
We've posted lots of photos from 2012 Carnival on our Facebook page: check them out.
Dates: Friday 15th February to 6th March 2013
Buy a double ticket for the parade and the Battle of Flowers £35. This buys you a seat in the stands.
Alternatively, you can go to Place Massena and entry costs £10, for a place on the street.
TIP: If you go in fancy dress you won't have to pay at all.
The rest of the circuit is free. There are parades on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. TIP: Go midweek for (marginally) fewer crowds.
Where to sleep:
Hotel Beau Rivage 24,rue Saint François de Paule The hotel Beau Rivage, close to the famous Promenade des Anglais on the seashore, was built in 1860. Artists and intellectuals at that time such as Matisee, Fitzgerald, Nietzche and theckhov were fond of the hotel and were regular clients. Doubles from £122.6 per night.
Hotels in Nice range from a 1* hotel at €40 per night for a double room with shared bathroom to a 5* deluxe (e.g. the famous pink domed Negresco) at €240.
Where to eat:
Keisuke Matsushima 22 ter rue de France This Michelin starred restaurant (1 star) offers beautifully designed dishes with superb flavours and panache.
L'Escalinada 22 Rue Pairoliere Located in the old town, this restaurant offers typcal Nicoise dishes
Don Camillo 5 rue Des Ponchettes Located on the edge of the old town, this one offers conceptual, modern, exotic and traditional cuisine at great value prices.
Restaurant Attimi 10 Place Massena Located in the middle of the Massena Plaza, this Italian restaurant has great views over the artworks' installation created by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa that represents the seven continents. It is connected to the Slow Food movement the owners choose only organic and traditional ingredients.
La Maison de Marie 5 rue Massena Dine on Nicois gastronomy in a cosy atmosphere in the centrally located restaurant.
Safari in the Cours Saleya is too often overlooked because of its hyper-touristy location. Yet, it's an excellent place to sample real Nicois cuisine, prepared with care. Not everyone loves sliced, raw baby artichokes in a salad but true-blood Nicois wouldn't have it any other way. Although the prices of EUR16 to 30 for a main course seem expensive, actually the portions are copious and the plate is always "garni" with a helping of veggies, or salad, potatoes or rice. A starter would be superfluous. I also like the decor. Outside is the busy Cours Saleya but indoors the rooms are attractively decorated and the walls adorned with interesting art. It's bright, animated and somewhat noisy.
For a quiet, classy choice, I would go for, Dom Camillo on the edge of the Old Town. The dinner is upper end but the lunch at I think 25 or 30 is excellent value. The cuisine is Mediterranean-inspired but the chef has a creative take on it. And some classic French dishes like foie gras (which I don't eat but some people do) are reportedly superb. You can really take anyone there from your meat-and-potatoes Dad to your metrosexual cousin from Paris.
Julie Ruelland recommends La ville de Sienne: "It is one of the best restaurants I know of in Nice. Excellent homemade pasta (I had something with pancetta, fresh cream, parmesan and a reduction of balsamic Vinegar - awesome), friendly service and a very nice setting with an open kitchen where you can see the chef cooking."