I don’t have a very good memory of Nice. I must’ve landed at the airport there a dozen times to visit my grandparents in Cannes, but I don’t really know Nice.
I know that it’s a hot spot destination on the Riviera in the summer, a sort of “baby capital” of the swanky Côte d’Azur but I cannot tell you where to get an umbrella drink for the best sunset view over the ocean and I cannot even tell you where the “Promenade des Anglais” is.
I’m a Parisian bred girl and proud. We are the ones who tease the French southerners with their unique twang and their slightly different dialect. But we secretly accept that they are the kinder, warmer version of us snobs from The Capital.
I can tell you though that on the 14th of July, our divisive stereotyping doesn’t really matter. We are all clinking glasses and getting drunk off beer, wine or champagne. In Paris it might’ve been on the rooftop of an expensive restaurant or on the Champ de Mars but only because we don’t have an open coastline like Nice to catch a decent view of the always impressive firework display.
The Promenade des Anglais apparently lines the coast and so I can already visualise the kind of perfect French mediterranean evening with busy cafes and restaurants overlooking the sea. The most beautiful epitome of French decadence.
I can picture the people, all decked to the nines and a little too happy since they’ve taken their preliminary celebratory “apéros”. Families, friends, all together, still wining and dining into the night because why the hell not ? The fireworks are already over but there’s no reason to cut the night short when the warm breeze is sticking so pleasantly to your skin.
Summer nights in Europe are the best nights. Late dinners, with tireless daylight seeping into the early hours of the night. Nothing is in your way and you can just follow your night through, from the sea, to drinks, to dinner, to more drinks with the soothing background noise of drunken chatter and laughter and dare I say, French hospitality.
It all sounds too good to be true, but that’s because it is.
As I write this, I’m being shelled with email notifications from the French news sources informing me of the climbing numbers of victims. Last night it was 30, this early morning already 60, by now I don’t even check. I’ll find out soon enough.
I’ve already seen a few graphic photographs from last night’s events. Many of them for now are of bodies covered in tablecloths so as to preserve the dignity of the victims. But another image I randomly caught burns my eyes and haunts my mind. There’s a group of five people walking towards safety and there’s white and red and an obvious vivid blue, but I can’t remember what the blue is. It’s like a perverse and twisted version of the French Tricolore: I see the blue but I can only make out a woman, wearing a white dress that was bloodied in red.