The Bataille des Fleurs Parade

The Bataille des Fleurs Parade

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.

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