Login      Receive Our Newsletter    

A Guide to Celebrating Carnival the French Way

Carnival in France is a time of vibrant festivities, where streets come alive with color, music, and laughter. Rooted in centuries-old traditions, this annual celebration marks the transition from winter to spring with flamboyant parades, elaborate costumes, and indulgent feasting. If you're eager to immerse yourself in the spirited atmosphere of French Carnival, here's a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of this joyous occasion.

Understanding the Tradition

Carnival, or "Carnaval" as it's known in French, has deep historical roots dating back to pagan rituals and later influenced by Christian traditions. In France, Carnival typically takes place in the weeks leading up to Lent, culminating in grand festivities before the solemn period of fasting and reflection begins.

Embracing the Spirit

carnivals in france

To truly embrace the spirit of Carnival in France, immerse yourself in the following activities:

Attend Local Parades

Carnival parades are the heart of the celebration. Cities and towns across France host their own parades, featuring elaborately decorated floats, costumed performers, and lively music. Check local listings for parade schedules and join the crowds in cheering on the colorful procession.

Dress the Part

Costumes are an essential element of Carnival, allowing participants to unleash their creativity and imagination. Whether you opt for a traditional mask and cape or a whimsical ensemble inspired by pop culture, donning a costume adds to the festive ambiance.

Sample Carnival Treats

Indulge in decadent treats synonymous with Carnival. From crispy beignets dusted with powdered sugar to delicate crêpes filled with Nutella, French Carnival offers an array of delectable sweets to satisfy your cravings.

Join the Dance

Music and dance are integral to Carnival celebrations. Don't be shy—join in the revelry by participating in impromptu dance parties or following the rhythm of marching bands as they parade through the streets.

Experience Local Traditions

Each region of France boasts its own unique Carnival customs and traditions. Whether it's the flower-filled floats of Nice's Carnival, the masked balls of Paris, or the medieval-inspired festivities of Dunkirk, immerse yourself in the local culture to fully appreciate the diversity of French Carnival.

Planning Your Visit

If you're planning to celebrate Carnival in France, consider the following tips:

Book Accommodation Early

Carnival draws large crowds, so it's advisable to book accommodation well in advance to secure the best options.

Check Local Events

Research the Carnival events happening in your chosen destination and plan your itinerary accordingly. Be sure to note the dates and times of parades, concerts, and other festivities.

Pack Accordingly

Dress comfortably and be prepared for variable weather conditions, as Carnival celebrations often take place outdoors.

Respect Local Customs

Familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience for yourself and those around you.


Carnival in France is a time of joyous celebration, where tradition meets modern revelry in a colorful spectacle of music, dance, and creativity. By embracing the spirit of Carnival and immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, you'll create lasting memories of this cherished French tradition. So don your mask, join the parade, and let the festivities begin!

Leave a Comment

First and Last Names
E-mail Address

2 Centers in your area

French classes, library & office in Los Gatos - View map

Office hours:
Tuesdays 10am-2pm
Thursdays 11am-1pm

Our office hours will be in recess from May 2 through July 11, resuming on July 16; during that time, you can reach us at (408) 901-8866 and alliance@afscv.org.

Saturdays 10am-12pm

The Library will be closed from June 8 through July 6, resuming on July 13.

French classes near you in Palo Alto  - View map

Get in touch

Alliance Française Silicon Valley



14107 Winchester Blvd. Suite T,
       Los Gatos, CA 95032

Design by Monsieur Graphic | Powered by Oncord