Life on the Cote d’Azur breeds finicky habitants accustomed to warmth and sun in year round doses. The appearance of several clouds or a kicking up of the wind is reason enough to denounce the weather and call off beach plans saying, “Il fait pas beau.” But despite the rain a crowd had amassed in the main square with appendages that spilled out onto the cobblestone streets of Antibes.
Under awnings and umbrellas they awaited the Bataille des Fleurs, a parade that arrives in June like a right of passage into summer. Girls in lace up leather boots kicked in time with a marching band lead by Mickey and Minnie mouse in wedding white. At the head of the procession a brass section of aging Italian men in pink polka-dotted bikinis flirted with onlookers. Clowns and elephants rudely fashioned from carpets of flowers were pulled behind tractors. From these floats frilly-petalled carnations were showered on the crowd. A whole bouquet of roses that I caught by their thorny stems gave me a sense of why it’s called a battle of flowers.
My ear to eat smile outlasted the procession that wound its way down to the port where millionaires dock their yachts as I walked home with an armful of flowers like a pageant winner.