Nice: In the hinterland, preserved villages but fiercely RN out of fear

Nice: In the hinterland, preserved villages but fiercely RN out of fear
Nice: In the hinterland, preserved villages but fiercely RN out of fear

« We just want to be left alone.” : in L’Escarène, Blausasc or Berre-les-Alpes, three rather peaceful villages in the Nice hinterland, the fear of the outside world fuelled by the media and social networks is boosting the results of the extreme right.

The fear of being forgotten

In this former “red valley” of Paillon, long a bastion of the left, northeast of Nice, the RN is now sweeping the board in national elections. In the second rounds in 2022, Marine Le Pen exceeded 70% in the presidential election, while Alexandra Masson, outgoing RN MP, came close to it in the legislative elections.

“Most of the successive elections have not taken into account people’s frustration and their desire to protest (…). They are afraid of being forgotten.”explains Jean-Claude Vallauri, 59, surveyor and deputy mayor (non-party) of L’Escarène since 2008.

Even though they are rather isolated and ageing, these three villages remain dynamic, with a living environment or property prices that attract young workers. The schools are new and full, and the local shops are still open.

L’Escarène (2,600 inhabitants) has just opened a medical centre and still has a post office and a train station, even though the line will soon be closed for 18 months for work. A little tucked away, the village remains the least well-off of the three.

On a hillside, Blausasc (1,600 inhabitants) can count on royalties from the quarries operated by the Vicat cement group. Berre-les-Alpes (1,200 inhabitants), perched on a summit, attracts tourists with its steep streets and sumptuous views.

“I’m barricading myself!”

Life here is peaceful. No insecurity, no immigration”the locals repeat.

True, a man suspected of burglary died two years ago after being beaten up by locals in L’Escarène, and a Romanian tantric yoga guru suspected of rape had set up one of his ashrams on the slopes of Berre-les-Alpes.

But residents are most concerned about what they see on television or social media about national news.

« Kids who stab themselves and then recently a young girl who was attacked, raped… We were calm and now, I have to check everything in the evening. I barricade myself in!”says Jean-Marie Sigaut, an 83-year-old retiree, at the bingo game at the Blausasc seniors’ club, referring to attacks that took place far away, in November in the Drôme or recently in Courbevoie, in the Paris region.

In this affluent village where Vicat’s windfall has enabled the construction of gleaming infrastructure – including a football pitch named after Joseph Merceron-Vicat, despite the patriarch’s collaborationist past – a security guard gets bored every day at the entrance and exit of the school.

« Here in the village, we have no problems, we are protectednotes a forty-year-old bus driver in Monaco. But at the national level, “We had the left, and the right, and the middle. So if we try the far right, maybe that will change.”

“Not fascists”

Like him, some RN voters refuse to give their name, but many others do not hesitate, like Cathy Devillers, 43, naturopath and psychotherapist in L’Escarène: ” Here we are peaceful and I am not racist at all. I just want to protect our values, our country and our children.«

« The veil, halal, fed up” says Louis, a 72-year-old former mason. ” I’ve been a communist my whole f…ing life, but for the past 20 years I’ve been fed up. When you go down to do your shopping (in the supermarkets on the outskirts of Nice), you only see veiled women.” he maintains.

« I worked with Arabs, Albanians, Italians… They were good people, but today that is no longer the case.” he continues, without supporting his accusations.

« Not all people who vote RN are fascistsassures Stéphanie, 54, a shopkeeper in Berre-les-Alpes. We don’t want to have a dictatorship (…). We just want to be left alone.«

But not everyone votes for the far right. As elsewhere, some do not vote at all. They are puppets“, storms a customer at the bar in L’Escarène. ” I do not care“, says a passerby. ” Politics is not my thing“, says a resident of Berre-les-Alpes.

“Ouch, that stings!”

Others despair of their neighbors: ” It’s jovial, we say hello, we greet each other, we know each other’s children. And then afterwards, we look at the election results and we say to ourselves: ouch, that stings!“, says Laetitia Aicardi, 49, who supports students with disabilities in L’Escarène.

A former socialist, Mr. Sigaut understands: “ The RN has changed. Jean-Marie Le Pen, at the beginning, he scared me (…). Now, it’s different. We have people with whom we can discuss. Afterwards, I don’t know what they’re going to do. I hope it works.”

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