It's 8 o'clock on Thursday morning when a young person on a bike shouts on the Promenade des anglais which is sealed off to traffic and still deserted by passers-by: "France for the French, France to the French!" A message stirring up hatred which was shared on the day after the carnage by thousands of users of Twitter, by means of the hashtag "Islam out of Europe". But also by more than a few Nice residents in a region where, at each election, the Front national achieves high scores.
Gérard, for example, a 67-year-old retired man, is on this same extremist wavelength. He doesn't hide it. He also comes to us spontaneously to "get it off his chest". "Me, I'm a racist till death, I am FN [Front National] and I say it," he says, showing his 2016 membership card with the face of Marine Le Pen. He even announces it in a loud voice in front of inhabitants from diverse backgrounds. "Nice is starting to be hot for the FN and now it's going to get very hot," he predicts. In his district of Carras where he "sees veils everywhere", the sixty-something is ready to go toe to toe "with the Arabs". "These guys," who, "if it continues, will rule over us one day." "Militias, I think, I'll be the first into the street for a punch-up," he warns, "tears of rage" in his eyes. The left pocket of his shorts has a Taser in it, the right one a tear gas canister. He points his finger at the government which "has been weak" before two passers-by, hearing his remarks, agree.
Marie-Pierre, owner of a bookshop in Vieux-Nice, worries about this liberated, overtly Islamophobic language. "I fear an increase in racism. Recently, I have felt tensions between some of my customers of different origin," she observes.
René, in his 70s, sees "a failure of integration". "But now, we can't do anything, it's much too late, they are French. The only solution was to send them back home a long time ago," he fulminates.