• France's news in English
French Riviera left in grief and shock after Nice carnage
Police stand guard at the Promenade des Anglais. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

French Riviera left in grief and shock after Nice carnage

The Local/AFP · 15 Jul 2016, 14:20

Published: 15 Jul 2016 10:20 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Jul 2016 14:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

On Friday, instead of waking up with the usual post-Bastille Day hangover,  the Riviera city has instead opened its eyes to be greeted by shock and mourning.

The Promenade des Anglais would usually be filled with locals and holidaymakers on a warm July day; today it has been cordoned off by police as officers remove bodies from the scene, and luxurious hotels have become makeshift hospitals. Many of the bars and cafes that line the seafront are closed. Flags are flying at half-mast.

Photo: AFP

Long after dawn broke some of the victims were still lying on the promenade covered by blue and white sheets.

Laura Tobin, who lives near Nice, says her friends in the city are staying inside their homes. "Those who live outside Nice don't dare go in," she told The Local. "The Entire French Riviera is in stand still. Traffic is horrendous, the Promenade des Angles is completely blocked. Monaco is checking any car that drives in, creating a huge traffic jam."

"The people that are around and about in Nice are mainly journalists reporting," she said. The large media presence means many broadcasters are experiencing reduced bandwidth and delays in their broadcasting.

Meanwhile, local resident Neil Sandell said in a Facebook post that it was impossible to describe the mood of the city. He emphasized the "dissonance" between last night's carnage and the quiet of Friday morning.

"The Prom is more than a traffic artery. It is the city’s social hub," said Sandell, describing the diversity of the port city. "Today it is vacant."

A Swedish citizen on holiday in Nice, Kristian Julius, told The Local: "Today everything is quiet. There’s hardly a soul on the beach. The shock is starting to wear off - we’re just trying to carry on as normal."

Kristian Julius witnessed the attack. Photo: Private

Julius ran to the beach to escape the truck last night after seeing it veering into the crowd, and remembers scenes of panic breaking out there. "We saw two people who had been killed, and an old woman whose leg was torn off at the knee. It was the old people and children who couldn’t get away quickly enough who were hurt - it’s so cowardly," he said.

On Friday there were reports of holidaymakers just packing up and heading to the airport or looking for any other way to get out of the city.

The city's mayor, Philippe Pradal, said that Nice was "in a state of infinite sadness", speaking on RTL radio on Friday morning. "The city has never been hit so hard."

Forensics experts evacuate a body from the Promenade des Anglais. Photo: AFP

For Pradal, the fact that the driver chose to attack the "iconic" Promenade des Anglais was symbolic. "The Promenade des Anglais is one of the major elements of prestige in the city," he said.

The local paper, Nice Matin, ran the headline 'Carnage in Nice' above a picture of the scene, and devoted nine pages of Friday's edition to the events of Thursday night. One of the paper's reporters, Damien Allemand, had been at the fireworks display and gave a horrifying testimony of "bodies flying like bowling pins".

Police are guarding the Promenade while bodies are removed, and forensics experts and police officers are examining the white truck which was used in the attack. While some locals and tourists are watching the emergency services at work, others walk straight past, heading to the beach.

Photo: AFP

The grand, 5-star Hotel Negresco has had its lobby transformed into a first-aid point. Richard Werly, correspondent for Swiss newspaper Le Temps, said the lobby was packed with "hundreds of people in shock." The Hi Club disco was also used as a makeshift hospital.

As well as the dead, hundreds of others were left injured by the 19-tonne truck, with 18 currently in intensive care.

The Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, a conference centre which is part of the city's university, is being used as a meeting point for families of the victims and injured, with police protection. Anti-terrorist officers have opened an investigation into mass murder.

Upcoming cultural events in the resort town have been cancelled, including a jazz concert and a show by Rihanna.

Story continues below…


"From tomorrow the city's flags will be fflown at half-mast. After the cancellation of Rihanna's concert, the jazz festival is also cancelled."

Francois Hollande is expected to arrive in Nice at around midday, having declared three days of national mourning.

But the scars of Thursday's rampage will last for far longer in Nice and the rest of the French Riviera.

"This will not stop us living our lives," said Jean, an astronomer who was caught up in the panic with his wife Myriam and his two children and their dog.

He said the dog had led them to safety, to a hotel where the manager told them to go into one of its rooms. With fears that other gunmen could be on the loose, Myriam told AFP that she locked the children in a shoe cupboard and they remained in the room for three hours before deciding that it was safe to leave.

But the family were back on the promenade on Friday "so the children would not be terrified", Myriam added.

The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available