This past weekend a handful of kids from my program here in Aix and I ventured two hours further southeast (nearly to Italy!) to a picturesque city named Nice (pronounced “Neece”).

We were particularly drawn here because of Carnival! Alongside the Brazilian carnival, it’s one of the world’s largest celebrations. We spent the weekend on the French Riviera going to parades and soaking in all of the sunshine.

I was so excited to go because in high school we had a whole unit about the Nice Carnival and it felt so far away…some other world. And it kind of was.

The parade floats towered so many feet above the treetops and were made of the most vibrant colors I’d ever seen.

We saw two parades that weekend…the fist was the flower parade. The whole city smelled magnificent and was littered with petals. They were handing out confetti and it was just the perfect scene: lined up along the Mediterranean sea, throwing colorful tiny pieces of paper into the sky, catching yellow flowers, dancing to the music. On top of all of this it was a beautiful 70 degrees out. (I got sunburned!)

The second parade was that same day, but at night. Fittingly, the parade was the parade of lights. We wore masquerade masks and saw some new floats, all decked out and all lit up. It was awe-inspiring. Dancing was mandatory and dance we did. Some girls and I were even pulled into the parade itself to dance in the middle of everything.

The following day we didn’t see any parades, but instead took some time to explore the rest of the city. We wandered through an antique market, which was so much fun to pour over the old teacup sets and posters and random trinkets. We ended up all buying antique rings that were beautiful and I couldn’t help but think of whose finger it was on before mine. I also bought an old postcard written from a husband to a wife…I had so much fun deciphering the cursive, French script. How special that I get to hold other people’s memories in my own hands.

Nice was unforgettable and made my heart soar. If you ever get the chance, I recommend it over any city I’ve been so far.  (Besides Aix, of course)