Sometimes – often actually – the simple pleasures in life are the best. Yesterday I met Sebastian, a former soldier who decided to make a new life for himself in Nice, and who always has been helpful in advising on Niocis matters. He is our man on the ground and my pleasure to invite him for lunch. He likes a beach bar/restaurant opposite the Negresco called Blue Beach.
We always have the same; a simple grilled sea bass with a bottle of Sancerre. After prepondantly female company and – dare I say it in this feminist world more girlie talk – it was good to speak of World War Two, cricket and Nice over well-cooked food in the open on a glorious day with the sea beyond.
The Blue Beach was the medical assistance point for the dreadful terrorist incident of July 14th 2016. We often sit on our balcony with its great views over Nice and if here that July we would have witnessed the horror when 68 lives were lost.
A frequent sight in Nice is a platoon of 4 armed soldiers on patrol. Concrete posts now prevent vehicular access to the Promenade so one feels reasonably secure. Nice, which changed hands 5 times during the last war, now deserves a more peaceful time.
Local politics are quite different to the UK as the Mayor wields great power and often has presidential aspirations. Jacques Chirac for example was Mayor of Paris.
The rise of Nice in the 50s and 60s had much to do with the Medecins as mayors, Jean who served from 1928-43 and 1947-65 and his son Jacques. Graham Greene famously accused Jacques of corruption and he did a runner to Uruguay though was subsequently arrested and jailed. They were the architects of modern Nice with the growth of its airport, the second busiest in France with 35m passengers.
Both Medecins’ politics were of the extreme right.
The current mayor Christan Escrosi never liked the central bus station so he knocked it down. In its place, in Place Masséna a park with fountains was built. I compare here my home city of Brighton. I do not know who the mayor is but I do know the transport system is lousy and a French mayor would never tolerate an airport at Shoreham which is basically just an aerodrome for private aeroplanes and a substandard rail service. It also took many years and private benefactor for Brighton HAFC to find a new stadium in the city. Jean Medecin decided in the fifties that Nice should have a football team worthy of his city; and duly gave it every support.