Nice (France)

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Nice (France)

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Review of "Nice (France)"

published 18/12/2016 | cr01
Member since : 13/05/2008
Reviews : 651
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About me :
Now writing music gig reviews for free tickets. Sorry ciao, less time for you now; just wish you hadn't stopped paying for music reviews.
Pro It's a small thing to pay tribute
Cons It can feel uncomfortable
Value for Money
Ease of getting around

"Exploring the not nice of Nice...."

Nice (France)

Nice (France)

Gruesome travel: it could catch on

It is perhaps an inevitable outcome of regular travel; you eventually end up in a place where tragedy or history is in the making. In my time we have been in Madrid at the time of the funeral of the train bomb victims, in a tourist deserted Malaysia just after 9/11 and on an island in the south china sea as the leader of the Philippine Al Qaeda sped past in a bid for freedom in the night in a speedboat, in Warsaw on the day of Pope John Paul’s funeral, and our friends were in Havana on the day Fidel Castro died.

Earlier this year, we were in a Paris apartment a couple of hundred yards from the shell of the Bataclan nightclub and our most recent visit to Southern France early this autumn found us looking at the fateful seafront prom where scores of people were run down a few months previously by a lorry driving maniac. While of course, my importance in such tragic events is absolutely zero, there remains “tourist etiquette”. Should one avoid such places, should one visit but not take images, does life go on or should such places become a key place to remember?
Duty of Honour?

For my part, I feel it a duty to honour the lost and take a pause from my bar-hopping to remember, to think about the events and why it happened, and to think something of what the people who lost their lives went through. Most importantly I use it to celebrate the fact that nutters will never win, and that’s it’s an opportunity to revile and repudiate their puny attempts to put their mark upon the world. As a great woman said; “there is more that unites us than divides us”.

Thus during our visit to Nice our focus was upon that long seafront walkway and we took time out to take a look at the home spun tributes laid down the route. I read tributes, wondered about the faces where lives had been snatched away in an instant, shed a quiet tear for a torn and decaying “I love Nice” T-shirt laid on the ground, and took some photos to remember them, and to stick two fingers up at those that caused this hurt.

Of course, life is not black and white, and while the sun beat down on me along the prom, I also wondered about what it was that triggered that hate. Did it start small with resentment growing, and perhaps fuelled through the petty racism of neighbours and colleagues? I say hello to people I pass in the park regardless of their colour and age. A smile and a nod are cheap things to offer; could I do more?


From our hotel we hopped on the rather nifty regular bus which zips back and forth along the coast in these here parts; the Nice to Menton (and back again) Express. At just 1.50 Euros it’s still a bargain despite the post Brexit vote crash in the value of the pound.

At Nice we decided to take the lift up to Castle Hill on the edge of the city (we would have walked but our travelling companion is not much of a walker). The main reasons to get up Castle Hill is to look at the view over the long Nice bay (and the prom area). We also spent some time looking at one of the ornate French cemeteries; here is a Jewish Cemetery and a French one (although there are a fair few British ex-pats from the late 1800’s buried here too). One particularly poignant grave was that of a little lad who died in the 1930’s and obviously loved his trains, planes and automobiles. One had to wonder whether he might have survived the war to come, and what mark he might have made upon the world. Sylvio Asseo 1923-1931 lives on.

We went back down to the coast and discovered that shared boat trips were available for 18 Euros for a bit of a spin out of the bay. I know Whitby perhaps doesn’t have the same cache, but a brief trip on the sea for 70 Euros for the 4 of us seemed rather prohibitive. We turned our back on the sea, and took to the pretty rambling streets of Old Town. Unfortunately, it was before 2:30 but we were simply in the market for a drink, whereas most of the restaurants expected people to dine, and the bars were not open until mid afternoon. Nice turned out to be quite a cheap date, dear reader, but we enjoyed the wander round, and snagged a little snackette at one of the bakeries in the area.
The Not Nice of Nice

It was time to turn our attention and to pay our respects to the horrors of Nice and so we walked along the prom. We found some works going on, as it seemed some additional palm tree planting and barrier work had ensued so it was more difficult for trucks to dodge from road to pedestrian walkway. As we walked, we realised how high the walkway was above the beach and so understood some of the injuries that people received by flinging themselves out of harm’s way from the walkway down onto the beach.

We then saw a fenced off part of the prom where tributes were left to some of the killed. At the end of a long summer some of the tributes had aged; time moves on, but many of the flowers there had been replaced and remained fresh. Further out of town on the other side of the busy main street, a small park and bandstand area has been reinvented as a space for tribute.

Here I spotted an amazing tribute. Someone had gone to the trouble to paint a pebble for each of the victims in the French flag colours and to write their name and age on it. I thought it was a time consuming and very personal gesture to let friends and relatives know that the victim had been thought about. It’s comforting to think that humanity can take time out to think of others. Elsewhere, the rather grand and sometimes mawkish paintings which held that humanity should be nicer to each other held sway, amongst the flags and banners of nations. An over-riding theme came with the teddy bears presumably for the younger victims.

I pondered with my camera around my neck; it felt uncomfortable to take a few images, but on the other hand these tributes will not last or be here forever. Is it better for the memories to be kept with the victim’s loved ones, or for that love to gain a wider audience? As my attached images show, dear reader, I made my choice.

Later, I focussed on the view from some of these tribute spots on the prom and looked out to sea in the sunshine. Here, I could see a volleyball game ongoing, there, a young couple with only eyes for each other on the sand. That mix of feelings within me was being played out in the community too.

Summing Up

I guess its part of the awkwardness of modern life where we don’t quite know how to react to some of the things presented to us. However, in the end I felt it comfortable and appropriate to have spent some time exploring the site of the Nice murders. I didn’t want to let what happened to be swept under the carpet, and while there it was clear that many people had made and left some beautiful tributes that I’m honoured to have seen.

* It should go without saying that rather than imagine that I’m financially profiting from this review, I will make a small donation to the Syria Crisis Appeal run by Oxfam.

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Product Information : Nice (France)

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Listed on Ciao since: 19/07/2000