Where to Stay in Nice in 2024: Best Places in 10 Neighborhoods
French Riviera

Local Festivals in Nice

There's no better way to participate in local life than in attending one of Nice's frequent local festivals. Nice has been around for almost 2000 years, absorbing cultural influences from all over Europe. In the process Nice has created its own unique culture. Many of the festivals are based on Nice's Catholic heritage and some are just, well, peculiarly Niçois. Nice's festivals attract enthusiastic local support. Visitors are most welcome but, as the festivals are not well-publicized, the crowd is mostly locals. At the popular festivals, expect music, dancing and food stalls serving socca and other local specialties.


The religious festivals are marked by processions and sometimes a local band. Most often, the mayor (Christian Estrosi) is likely to make an appearance. Nice's local anthem is Nissa La Bella and you're sure to hear it at all festivals. Dancing is provided by Nice's local folk dancing troupe, La Ciamada Nissarda

Le Festin des Cougourdons

Decorative gourds

A cougourdon is an inedible gourd, traditionally used to create containers. The gourd was dried in the winter, emptied of its flesh and seeds, then used as ladles, bowls or storage jars. Some were fashioned into musical instruments and some were carved into figurines. The Festin des Cougourdons is a great place to pick up a decorative gourdon, browse the book stalls, munch on socca and watch folk dancing.

When: Last Sunday in March
Where: Arenes de Cimiez

La Fete de Voeu

The Fete de Voeu is a procession and ceremony to honor the "vow of Nice". In 1832 as a cholera epidemic threatened to engulf the city (again), the administration vowed that if the city was spared, they would build a church to honor the Madonna and hold a procession each year. The church they built was the Notre Dame des Graces (or Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste-Le Voeu), commonly known as the Eglise de Voeu.

Eglise de Voeu

The procession is held each year to honor the Virgin and ensure her continued protection. It begins at the Place Saint François in Vieux Nice with a solemn ceremony conducted by the mayor and ends at the church with a special mass. Along the way, a statue of the Virgin is accompanied by representatives of the various religious orders in Nice.

Fete de Voeu procession

The solemnity of the occasion is lightened by music at the beginning and folk dancing at the end.

When: End of May
Where: Place Saint Francois to Eglise de Voeu

La Fete de Mai

Not to be confused with the national May Day celebrations held on May 1, the Fete de Mai is a traditional spring festival that dates back to the Roman era. The festival celebrates the renewal of nature and centers on dances around a maypole.

Fete de Mai, maypole

The day is devoted to music, dancing, food and traditional games. There are plenty of activities just for kids and stands devoted to acquainting visitors with the Nissart language.

Traditional board game

When: end of May
Where: Jardins des Arenes de Cimiez

La Fete de la Saint Pierre

Fishing was the economic foundation of Nice for hundreds of years. A good catch and coming home safely was of supreme importance to Nice's fishermen. Saint Peter was the patron saint of Nice's fishermen and the subject of their regular prayers and this festival. The ceremony begins with a mass the Notre Dame du Port church and continues with a procession.

Notre Dame du Port church

The fishermen then proceed to the Quai d'Entrecasteaux on the Port, accompanied by a statue of Saint Peter and representatives of the local churches. They lay a wreath to the missing fishermen and sailors, followed by a boat procession. A boat from one of the fishermen is burned and he is presented with a new one. The event ends with music and dancing followed by a concert. Refreshments include grilled sardines. Local of course!

When: late June or beginning of July
Where: Nice Port Lympia

La Fete du Malonat

This festival also has its origins in a cholera epidemic, this one in 1854 that had spread to the western border of Nice. The locals prayed to the Virgin for protection and, lo and behold, Nice was spared. In gratitude, the locals built the oratory, Notre Dame du Malonat, at the end of rue Malonat in Vieux Nice.

Notre Dame du Malonat

This solemn religious festival begins on a Saturday night when the statue in the oratory is brought to the Eglise Gesu in Vieux Nice for a special mass. After Sunday mass a procession accompanies the statue back to the oratory for another ceremony.

When: end of July, beginning of August
Where: Eglise du Gesu to Notre Dame du Malonat oratory

La Fete de la Sainte Reparate

Cathedral Saint Reparate

Sainte Reparate is the patron saint of Nice and her feast day on October 8 is celebrated with a mass in the Saint Reparate Cathedral followed by a procession through Vieux Nice.

When: October 8 or the nearest Sunday
Where: Cathedral Saint Reparate

Catherine Segurane Fete

Bas relief of Catherine Segurane

Catherine Segurane is a heroine from Nice who lived in the 16th century and became famous during the siege of Nice in 1543 when she leaped onto Nice's walls, lifted her skirts and showed her behind to the besieging Turks. They were so horrified they turned tail (so to speak) and left. Since then, she has come to symbolize the fervent patriotism of Nice.

Her deeds are celebrated in Nice on November 25, Saint Catherine's Day in front of the bas-relief in rue Sincaire. There's a mass in the nearby On e Saint-Martin-Saint-Augustin church followed by music and dancing.


Recommended Experiences

Follow on Instagram Pinterest button Facebook button

Back to Top

©FrenchRivieraTraveller 2008-2024