Tue, 12 Dec 2023

It was just another Sunday market for the 80-odd stallholders on the Place Garibaldi in central Nice but for scores of tourists and rugby fans it was a chance to lounge in the sunshine and embrace provencal life on a square dedicated to one of the city's most revolutionary sons.

Nice's quintessential market boasting flowers as well as fruit and vegetables takes place on the Cours Saleya just over three kilometres away on the seafront.

But back on the square honouring the man behind Italian unifcation in the 19th century, artisans offer a dazzling array of handmade hats, clothes and jewellery. Others proffer shoes, sandals and wood work.

"It takes me about one and half to two hours to put that together," said Bella Tendero pointing at a wash bag on her stall which also offers soaps made from natural oils. "The zips are the tricky things to put in. A lot of effort goes in."

A few yards away, Eri Takayama and Anju Hirakawa were nosing around for other souvenirs after buying a ring and bracelet respectively.

Takayama, who has been studying French in Nice with the aim of being a nursery school teacher, said she was doing a spot of shopping with her friend before returning home to get ready for the match.


"I've been watching the games on TV," added the 29-year-old from Tokyo.

"And so obviously I'm excited about getting the chance to see the game live."

Japan and England both won their opening fixtures at the 2023 tournament.

Japan crushed debutants Chile 42-12 in Toulouse last Sunday while England defied poor recent form and the third-minute expulsion of their forward Tom Curry to beat Argentina 27-10 in Marseille on 9 September.

Hirakawa, 23, said she would skip Sunday night's match to prepare for a trip to Italy before returning to study in Lyon.

There was no chance of Sharon Lewis missing the game at the Allianz Riviera.


The 54-year-old, who owns a cafe just outside Exeter in western England, conceded she was more of a supporter of Exeter City football club than the rugby side Exeter Chiefs.

But she had been saving up for four years to make the journey to France with a group of friends.

"There were 14 of us at one point," said the mother-of-two as she made her way from the market to one of the nearby cafes lining the late 18th century square home to some of the city's most sumptuous apartments.

"But now we're down to six though two more are coming to join us for the match in Lille against Chile."

The six were dotted around a cafe table looking tanned and relaxed.

And apart from all recounting the horror of lax security and difficult access to the match in Marseille, they all waxed lyrical about the places where they had been staying and the atmosphere around the country.

"I just think it was very poor in Marseille," added Lewis. "I was really thinking twice about coming to the match in Nice," she added.

"The rest of France has been wonderful. It's been great. We've been to Monaco, we've been to different places and it's been amazing."

The next market was scheduled for October. "We'd like to come weekly," said Tendero.

But raising her head up towards the well scrubbed windows and partmentw overlooking the square, she added: "There are some people who don't want us around too much ... they don't want the noise."

Well, at least they're united in that.

Originally published on RFI

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