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Yes it’s good to be back in Nice.

I was fortunate as my parents liked to travel and take me with them.

They first came to the Côte d’Azur in the 1950s and apparently I nearly blinded my mother when I poked her in the eye.

Fortunately they French had cortisone.

We came back in the 60s. At that time President de Gaulle had blocked the UK ‘s admission to the Common Market and we in the throes of an economic crisis during which Prime Minister Harold Wilson had imposed currency control of £50 limit outside the sterling area.

Nowadays with international credit card such an imposition would not work. All you needed then is a friendly local to get around this.

We were back in the 60s when my father rented a flat in the hills above Villefranche outside Nice.

Dad who always woke up early would go to the Cours Saleya market and return with lovely produce as I did this morning.

After my parents passing in 2013 I left it a few years before returning, for sentimental reasons. Return I did, renting a flat in the old town in Nice in 2017 and in a different building in 2018, 2019 and 2022.

The most important event was the terrorist bomb outrage on the Promenade des Anglais in July 2017.

Nice – the largest city in France after Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and Bordeaux – has had an interesting history.

Originally part of Piedmont, it resembles Turin with its Piazzas, it’s the birthplace of Garibaldi and later changed hands five times during World War Two, enduring a particularly brutal Nazi occupation.

Its airport is the second busiest in France but many travellers use it more to get to Cannes, St Tropez, Monte Carlo and other resorts than to visit Nice.

This is a shame as the city with its sweeping blue bay, Promenade des Anglais, Cours Saleya market and fine restaurants has much to offer.

One of the main differences between British and French municipal life is the power of the mayor.

I suspect most people could not name the Mayor of their city and only Andy Burnham of Manchester.

In France, however,  the Mayor has real power – often amassing a war chest of money and enough contacts to launch a political career that can end with the Presidency in the case of Jacques Chirac (Mayor of Paris) or infamy in the case of Bernard Tapie.

I can see the advantages of an operator to a well-intentioned but often naive leader of the council.

Today (Thursday) is a day of a national strike.

This is against President Macron’s pension reform of raising the age from 62 to 64.

The French do not require much excuse to demonstrate. A relatively peaceful protest in the University of Nanterre led to such demonstrations in 1968 that de Gaulle’s government fell.

President Macron is less the product of the system than a clever technocrat. The French I have met are cynical about their politicians, expecting them to be corrupt and amoral.

Like the Americans, they like a monarchical figure like de Gaulle (or Ronald Reagan).

I appreciate the attractions of France; it’s style, food ,clothes and presentation.

Against that there is a stubborn negativity which one experiences on a daily basis.

Seeing one of my favourite restaurants open I went inside to make a booking only to be told abruptly it was closed.

Many expats came here for the warmer climate but left after Brexit.

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About Robert Tickler

A man of financial substance, Robert has a wide range of interests and opinions to match. More Posts