Accueil » Life in France » Le Carnaval de Paris
a merry-go-round at a carnaval

Le Carnaval de Paris

You have probably heard of Rio Carnival in Brazil, and Notting Hill Carnival in London, but what you may not know is that every year, Paris, as well, holds its very own Carnival. This tradition began after the banning of the Fête des Fous, a feast that would normally take place on 1st January, in which hierarchical order in the church would be turned on its head. Through what was originally a response to the Bible teaching: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise” (Cor 1:27), a lowly boy priest would be elected mock bishop, or ‘Lord of Misrule’, for the day. He would give a type of parodic mass, and then the congregation would remain in the church, gambling and partying, for the rest of the day. You can see an interpretation of this irreverent festival in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. By the 15th century, this event had become utterly sacrilegious, and so it was outlawed, and eventually replaced by the Carnaval de Paris.

Instead of taking place in January, the Carnaval falls in February or early March, just before le Mardi gras, seemingly as a final moment of decadence and hedonism before the abstinence of Lent. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it would involve a Promenade de masques, where a parade of people dressed up in disguises would work their way through the streets, in a sea of colour, confetti, music and dance. During carnivals of the jours gras before Lent there might also be a Fête du Boeuf Gras, in which bulls would be led through the city by butcher boys.

The tradition of the Carnaval de Paris was almost forgotten in the 20th century, especially during the hardship of the Second World War. However, in the 1990s, efforts were made to reinstate it, and since then it has taken place every year, the costumes, and colours becoming more and more impressive and daring as time goes on.

a carnival mask

You may also like

See also…


“You get to practice your French for free with ‘reliable’ strangers. Everyone is dynamic, passionate and eager to learn English/French.”

— Anastacia


Accommodation in France - Street Montmartre

Help Settling in

Help Settling In - Suitcases Dog Small

Free Velib Pass

Free Velib Pass - Bicycle in Paris


Transportation - Metropolitain Paris Sepia

Our Community

Our Community - Birds Red

Stay connected

Stay Connected - Hello Flowers - Echagne linguistique gratuit


Help Settling In Bonjour - Life in France


French cuisine - Jobs in France - Macaroons

Calendar & Good deals

Calendar & good deals - Fruit Market

Job description

Job description - Workshop

Salary and benefits

Bird - Salary Benefits Apply Flexible hours

Working hours

Flexible Working Hours - Animals Zoom

Our Philosophy

Learn a foreign language - Our Philosophy - Birds Green Background

Learn how to teach

Birds - Learn how to teach

Learn French

Learn French - River Canal

Referral Programme

Work in France - Thank You - Invite your friends

Free guided tours

Free guided tours in Paris - Balloons

Cultural Outings

Cultural Outings - Notre Dame Free Guided Tour

Study in France

Study in France - Tour Eiffel and Carroussel

Free French classes

a picture of swallows


Testimonials - Rocket and Stars

Notre histoire

Notre Histoire - Pieds Enfant

English Speaking Jobs in Paris

English Speaking Jobs in Paris - Place des Vosges - Teaching English

Mardis de Babylangues

Language Exchange - Mardis de Babylangues - Echange Linguistique gratuit


Babylangues reviews - English speaking jobs in france

Trips & Excursions

Trips & Excursions - Map of France

French Cinema

French Cinema - Projector Old

French traditions

French traditions - Accordion

English Speaking Jobs in Lyon

Jobs in Lyon - Lyon


Intraduisibles - Dictionnaire traduction