February 2009 sees the return of the Paris Carnaval, or the ‘Promenade du Boeuf Gras’, literally translated into ‘fat cow parade’. If only it was actually called ‘the fat cow parade’; maybe we should all use this name from now on as it refers to the origins of the event, something which is almost always forgotten about with most festivals and traditions. The name is quite suited to a carnival as well. The carnival has a long and interesting history that dates back to the XVI century. If you read on, you can learn more about the fascinating event.
At the beginning of the XI century until the end of the XV century, Paris’s carnival was named ‘la Fête des Fous’, or the crazy people’s festival. However, due to the unreligious nature of the event that contradicted its location, set at the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the festival was banned by the state. After years of disappearance of the Fête des Fous, the XVI century welcomed the new Paris Carnaval. The carnival was still held in the same place but due to the evolution of ideologies was no longer frowned upon. Once again, in 1790 the carnival was banned due to various reasons, but was reintroduced 9 years later. The carnival was never rejected by the Parisians themselves but did however cause many a political problem. Over the years, this carnival has seen its fair share of turbulent times but is still enjoyed every year. To this day, a cow is marched through the parade, keeping the authenticity of the event.
Parisians come out of the woodwork for this special event and is therefore the perfect way to enjoy an authentic Paris get-away. Parades march through the streets, followed by hundreds of people, musicians and street performers, making their way through the city to the City Hall (all of course lead by a cow). When reaching the city hall, a whole host of events awaits you. There are numerous credible musicians, bands, comedians, dancers and all sorts of performers waiting to entertain. Make sure to pack your costume as the event is full of vivid colours and creativity; absolutely nobody goes without dressing up! This event is a great opportunity to get a free, well informed guide through the city, and all by locals. You’ll get the chance to walk the entire distance of the city, past the quaint Paris accommodation and the many hotel Paris and Paris apartment; looking especially beautiful on this night as all of the locals, and most hotel owners will decorate their balconies, windows and front doors. This carnival takes place in February each year, so make sure to pack your costume (and maybe you cow) and make your way to gay Paris.