Day 18 – Nice
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
Today was Bastille Day, and an interesting day it was. There was a bit of a solemn, tense mood throughout the city, rather than the usual celebratory festivities and fireworks, due to the terrorist attack in Nice last year on this day.
This year they had some serious security on the streets, including police and military personnel.
Our day started with a breakfast at the hotel, before walking down to the beach area, where we believed most of the events were taking place.
We went first to Quai des Etats-Unis, where they were handing out coloured square tiles to lay out in a large formation to spell out the phrase Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité in large letters, to be read/photographed from above. Each tile also contained the 86 names of the victims of the attack last year. It was nice to be a part of that homage.
We then walked up the main street along the coast, seeing all of the messages, flowers and tributes to the victims along the way.
There were however still lots of people out on the streets, walking, chatting, swimming at the beach, and still enjoying the day as best they could in the presence of armed forces.
We decided to stop into a cafe to get some water (and shade), as the sun was relentless. We got a snack too (I had some Nutella crepes). It was nice to just spend some time looking out over the main street, listening to the surprisingly on-point music from the cafe.
After a while, we walked down around the beach some more, and settled down in the shade of a tree to rest once the heat got to us again. Once we had recovered, we walked up the street a bit to where they had fenced off the street and a large crowd of people were lining the barricades. We assumed this was going to be where a parade/march of some sort was scheduled.
It was meant to start at 4:30pm, but we waited a while and nothing seemed to be happening. It was hard to figure out what/where/when events were on since everything was in French (surprisingly). Just as we were losing hope, some jets flew overhead, leaving blue, white and red smoke trails.
Soon after, military troops marched through the street to applause, but they soon walked past and seemingly nothing else was happening. There was supposed to be an appearance by President Macron, which is why most people were waiting around there, but after some more waiting, we were told it was too late and he would not be coming anymore.
We later found out he did come to Nice though and give a speech, but it was in another area, and later in the day I believe. Would have been better if we had a better idea of the day’s schedule, but oh well. It was dinner time anyway. We walked a bit and found a Greek restaurant which looked good. And it was. Also there was this dog just chilling in the middle of the street.
After dinner, we walked back to the hotel briefly to refresh, before walking to the venue where they were having a concert (orchestra and choir), which was actually the same park we visited on our first day here (with the water spraying fountain things). We didn’t have much of a view of the stage, but there were screens we could watch, and could still listen.
There was a solid chunk of speeches to begin with (I think that’s what they were, hard to tell when you don’t speak French). After a while of this, the orchestra began to play, which was nice classical music. We didn’t stay until the end as the others were tired and wanted to head back, as we have to get up super early tomorrow.
I actually didn’t get too many photos today, as there weren’t many great opportunities, but I did get a lot more video which was nice. Tomorrow we wake up early to catch our flight to Prague.