The Paris carnival is a celebration that dates back to the 13th century, and if legend is correct, it is actually the Paris Carnival that originally inspired the Rio carnival. Taking place on 6th March 2011, the Sunday before Mardi Gras, the procession sets off at 1.30pm from Place Gambetta and makes its way through the streets of Paris to its final destination at the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall).
The annual procession has many guises, including the Promenade du Boeuf Gras (Fat Cow Parade), the Pantruche Carnival and the Saint-Fargeau. The parade centres around Pimprenelle, a Limousine breed fatted calf (hence the name of the carnival).
The tradition of the fat cow started over 500 years ago when the carnival of Paris lasted several weeks, from the Epiphany to Ash Wednesday, with non-stop revelry and frolics during the celebrations. The cow was paraded through the streets to signify the coming of lent and the period of abstinence that was to arrive. Nowadays the carnival only lasts one day and Pimprenelle is accompanied by scores of musicians, performers in colourful masks and costumes, and giant paper-mache figures.
The whole of Paris comes out to enjoy the festivities of the carnival and although not the biggest in the world, it is absolutely worth visiting the city to experience a Parisian street party.
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