As France mourns the victims of the horrific truck attack on Bastille Day, the coastal city of Nice is slowly returning to normal. But as Dana Regev reports, moving on is not so easy for everyone.
The mood was already tense on the flight from Cologne to Nice. "It was supposed to be full," the steward said, "but I guess some people decided not to show up," referring to the multiple empty seats on the plane. "It's pretty unusual for this time of the year. I must admit, but understandable."
From a nearby seat, 15-year-old Moritz explained to his 9-year old sister Julia that Nice is "the same as it was last year when we came here, but maybe the people are a bit sadder. You will see, the beach is the same beach," he assured.
In the city center, things are slowly getting back to normal. Some of the beaches were already open to the public and the promenade is open too, after being blocked by police for the past two days.
Crowded with locals and tourists alike, the streets are occupied by mourners who came to pay their tributes to the victims of the deadly attack, the third major one in the country in the space of only 18 months.
It was 22:30 on Thursday when 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian-born Nice resident, drove a truck through a crowd of revelers who had gathered along the Promenade des Anglais to watch the Bastille Day fireworks.
He was able to kill as many as 84 people, including at least 10 children and left more than 200 people wounded, dozens of them still in critical condition. Police cars are still parked at every street corner; shopping centers are manned with security guards at every entrance.
Too early to start over?
But despite a heavy police presence downtown, there are clear efforts to restore confidence and security. So much so, that several policemen are even removing flowers and candles from the sidewalk, in places where bodies were once strewn.
"It's too early. It'll take me at least a few more days to grasp what has really happened here, and they are already sunbathing on the beach," 27-year-old and Nice native Jeremy Averbuj told DW.
With certain Nice residents still desperately searching for loved ones, some say it's too soon to return to normal life
The official three days of mourning had just begun, he argued, and the line between recovering and being tactless is very thin.
"Only two days ago there was blood all over this place. People died and some are still looking for their relatives. I'm trying not to judge the way different people react to this horror, but to me personally it's still too early to understand. Too early to put my swimsuit on."
Averbuj works at a private beach restaurant, right in front of where the attack happened.
"I was celebrating with friends and left the promenade five minutes before it all started. Now is the first time I'm coming back here. Usually I'm here every day with my bikes. But now I needed more time," he said.
Not far away from Massena Square in the old town, 43-year-old Suzanne is looking at the central fountain with her three children. She arrived from London yesterday for a planned holiday and decided not to cancel the bookings.
In certain locations police officers have begun removing flowers from the sidewalk, where bodies had been strewn just days earlier
"I know it's an old cliché, but I found myself thinking that I don't want to let terror win. Sometimes I was sick of hearing this sentence on TV or reading it in the newspaper, but it's true. It's not only a slogan, it's a way to deal with reality. It's a form of declaring your own small victory with actions: we are still alive."
Some businesses are still closed, but the ones which did open their doors are not standing empty. From cafes to restaurants to private beaches and hotels, people slowly are heading out to the streets of Nice as media vans pack up their equipment and leave.
At dawn, a group of tourists tried to get back into their hotel, but its main door was locked. It took the owner a couple of minutes before she came downstairs to open it for them. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, usually I don't do that," the Nice native apologized.
"But you can never know nowadays. I'm all alone here now, and … better safe than sorry," she hesitated, finally deciding to still lock the door behind them.