It’s been exactly one month since the tragic and awful truck attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. And with tensions still running high on the Cote d’Azur, there was a mad stampede tonight in beach resort Juan-les-Pins after people thought they heard gun shots.
Rumours were rife on Twitter that a 4×4 had crashed into the popular Bar Crystal and that gunmen had opened fire at approximately 10.30pm local time.
People ran down l’Avenue Louis Gallet, with a few tripping and knocking others over in their haste – resulting in at least 40 light injuries, and many are still hiding at the time of this report. Media around the world began reporting the “suspected terrorist attack”.
In fact, according to local police it was nothing more than people throwing squibs (firecrackers) out of a passing vehicle – which happens regularly in Juan les Pins when fans celebrate a football or rugby win… or just feel like it. Normally it doesn’t spark such terror. But these are not normal times in France.
South African couple Julie and Anthony Kotton had just returned – with their children – from a beach restaurant to their hotel, located just a couple of hundred metres from Bar Crystal, when the pandemonium broke out.
The Johannesburg couple, on holiday in the Mediterranean town, watched the chaos from their room, unaware at the time whether it was a terrorist attack or not.
“People were running in masses up the road, screaming and crying, and all standing under our hotel balcony. Police sirens are still going and it looks like chaos.
“While they were running they were all looking back and screaming,” Julie told SAPeople.
“It was a stampede and very scary to see, and unsettling.
“At the fireworks the other night there was a larger army and police presence… and maybe more of them should come back to make crowds feel safer.”
Whilst there are advisory messages to travellers to keep away from France at the moment, and occupation in some hotels is allegedly down by as much as 60 percent, many tourists like the Kottons have still flocked to the south of France where beaches and restaurants have been packed.
There was another false alert in Antibes Juan les Pins on Saturday when a ‘suspicious’ bottle was found and surrounding roads cordoned off. The bottle was found to be harmless.
Juan les Pins is a popular holiday destination with a rich history of jazz music which still includes an annual festival in July (much of which was cancelled this year due to the Nice attack), and has attracted many creative people over the years from Picasso to F. Scott Fitzgerald (who wrote ‘Tender is the Night’ whilst living in Juan les Pins, in what has since become the Belle Rive Hotel)… and is even featured in well known song “Where Do You Go To My Lovely” (1969) by Peter Sarstedt.
Watch Video on Twitter of the start of the stampede…
إطلاق رصاص … #جنوب_فرنسا #الان pic.twitter.com/3rZ4FKJOwi
— Wissam R Hanna (@WissamRHanna) August 14, 2016
Juan-les-Pins : aucun attentat mais un important mouvement de foule. #JuanLesPins #AlpesMaritimes https://t.co/J9uoxfqzgU
— France Bleu Azur (@francebleuazur) August 14, 2016