A fabulous and fun Mimosa Festival in France heralds the arrival of spring on the French Riviera.
As the winter sun shines on the French Riviera in January, the sharp yellow blooms of the mimosa plants which proliferate here are radiant with colour, bright against the blue skies.
Introduced to France from Captain Cook’s voyage to Australia in the mid 1800s, mimosa thrived and became important to the local economy for decades. When an unusually cold winter hit the area in 1929 causing temperatures to plummet to -9°C, the trees were frozen and the delicate yellow harvest was destroyed. Two years later the trees were back to their full vitality and to celebrate, the town of Mandelieu-le-Napoule organised a mimosa festival. The first one took place in 1931 and the Mimosa Festival has become a much loved, popular annual event on the Côte d’Azur.
When the countryside of this beautiful area is transformed by the mimosa blooms, the town of Madelieu-La-Napoule likes to celebrate in style and honour the importance of this tree to the local economy – and of course have some fun!
Of the French national production of 18 million mimosa stems, 11 million are produced in the Alpes-Maritimes region and 6 million in the municipalities of Mandelieu La Napoule and Pégomas. Situated at the edge of the Mediterranean, at the gates of Cannes, between the Esterel massif and the woodlands of the Tanneron, Mandelieu-La-Napoule is proud of its history and its heritage.
In February every year, the velvety yellow blooms of the locally grown mimosa flowers will fill the streets of Mandelieu-La Napoule for a large and very popular festival.
The festivities last for 10 days with the main attraction being the famed gloriously yellow floral floats during both weekends.
The evening starts at the “Notre Dame des Mimosas”, the Mimosa Queen is elected; the streets of the town centre ring to the sound of marching bands, street orchestras and the floats which parade, covered in locally grown mimosa. Each Sunday, the battle of the flowers takes place and when the floral floats are finished the winners go home laden with mimosa. This is a festival for everyone and children love it, the bright colours, the joyful atmosphere – its impossible not to be happy at this event and to feel that spring is just around the corner.
On Saturday evenings, fairy tale shows offered by troops of artists on lit floats are at the focus of the festivities.
During the revelries the Tourist Office organises trips for visitors to learn more about mimosa. See how it is cultivated by “mimosistes” growers in the forcing houses; take a trip to Grasse, the perfume town of France and learn how the manufacturers use the fragrance to make divine perfumes.
There are set hikes with or without guides where you can discover the charming route of the mimosa forests, filled with colour and scent as the gentle warm winter sun gives a hint of the spring which is soon to come.
See the website for Mandelieu-la-Napoule for times and details of the 2013 Fête du Mimosa February 15 – 24.