As we drove along the French Riviera, I could not help thinking that Spring begins in the South of France. The splashy blooms seemed to have arrived too early along with the rain-soaked promenades. When the sun broke and everything was instantly bathed in a lemony light, it was clear that everything was in perfect balance.
Nice, France opened the first wholesale flower market in the world in 1897. Today the Carnaval de Nice is an homage to the importance of flowers in this region. Over 100,000 native blooms are thrown from each float into the crowd during the many parades that last over 15 days. As we wove our way through the Cours Saleya on the opening day of Carnaval, there was a saccharine sweetness in the air that perfectly blended with the salty Mediterranean backdrop.
The first sign of Spring in France is signaled by the mimosa blossoms. The saffron-colored blooms symbolize sensitivity and concealed love which seems the perfect homage to the masked festival-goers reinventing themselves for the day.
As we wandered through the Matisse Museum at dusk, I read the following quote from the artist, “Creativity takes courage. It is not enough to place colors, however beautiful, one beside the other; colors must also react to one another. Otherwise, you have cacophony. There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”
It was a remarkable lesson to learn as the sidewalk was literally transformed into a blanket of blooms before us. I will never forget the perfumed air and the coolness of the pillowy petals in my fingers. It will forever remind me to look for the flowers around every corner.