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Storms on the French Riviera: heavy damages for tourism professionals

Many popular sites will close for several weeks


After the terrible weather that affected the French Riviera in the night of Saturday 3rd to Sunday 4th of October 2015, waking up has been difficult in the region. The human toll is high with at least 17 deaths and the material consequences are also major. Many very popular touristic sites such as Marineland and the Verrerie de Biot will have to remain closed for several weeks.



It is the zone between Cannes, Mandelieu, and Antibes that suffered the most damages in the night of Saturday 3rd to Sunday 4th of October 2015 - DR : Google Maps
It is the zone between Cannes, Mandelieu, and Antibes that suffered the most damages in the night of Saturday 3rd to Sunday 4th of October 2015 - DR : Google Maps
The French Riviera is in shock.

After a weekend of bad weather during which an intense stormy period led to major flooding, the region is evaluating the extent of damages.

At least 17 people died in the night between Saturday 3rd and Sunday the 4th of October 2015, between Mandelieu-la-Napoule and Nice, in the Alpes-Maritime (06), and 4 remain disappeared.

This Monday morning of October 5th, 2015, 9,000 households still remained without electricity in the zone.

The state of the natural disaster should be declared on Wednesday October 7th 2015 during a Council of Ministers.

Aside from the dramatic human toll, the material consequences of this catastrophe are substantial.

Marineland and la Verrerie de Biot are closed

And tourism infrastructures were not spared. Amongst the most affected sites is Marineland in Antibes.

The theme park suffered major damages: “90% of the infrastructures were affected,” ensures the Director of Marineland on BFMTV.

A priori, no mammals would have died, but several tropical fish did not resist the weekend’s bad weather.

Due to the scale of the destruction, “the parks of the Marineland space are momentarily closed,” indicates a statement on the park’s website. They should reopen in several weeks.

Every year, this site welcomes around one million visitors. “The impact of its closing will be major,” believes Eric Doré, Executive Director of CRT Côte d’Azur.

Near Antibes, it is the Verrerie de Biot that paid a very heavy toll from the flooding.

The boutique of the Verrerie de Biot is significantly damaged, but the most serious harm is the destruction of all of the ovens. Which leads to the site being closed for at least 6 months, the time needed to find new equipments.

This is terrible news for French Riviera tourism. “La Verrerie de Biot stands among France’s top 5 most visited companies. It attracts 750,000 people every year,” specifies Eric Doré.

The Biot Golf course also suffered major damages this weekend.

First step: evaluate the damages

In Antibes, the Pylone campground was strongly impacted in the night of Saturday to Sunday. One person perished. The material damages are also major.

“We are also noting large losses on many hotels,” adds someone at the CRT of Côte d’Azur.

In fact, it is still “a bit too early” to establish a complete list of the damages on the affected zone.

But, the material damages need to be put in perspective when looking at the human toll of this catastrophe. Which motivates locals to mobilize in helping rebuild the infrastructures that can be saved for now.

This is particularly what was done at the Mandelieu Convention Center where the convention for the company Total scheduled on Tuesday October 6th, 2015 would be able to take place.

However, the Tourism Departmental Encounters scheduled that same day at the Antibes Convention center-Juan les Pins, were postponed.

Above Cannes, it is the famous “Le Moulin de Mougins” building that was completely flooded.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) Nice Côte d’Azur opened a phone number for merchants and professionals in the sector to identity and report their material losses.

To do so, they must call as fast as possible the number 0800 422 222.

“The first step is to evaluate the magnitude of the damages. Then comes the phase of rehabilitation. We will see what happens after that, but what’s certain is that we’ll continue to promote the destination,” affirms Eric Doré.

A slow recovery of traffic at the Cannes-Mandelieu airport

As for transportation, the SNCF traffic was strongly disrupted on the French Riviera on Monday October 5th, 2015. In a statement, the train company explains that the floods “heavily destroyed” the infrastructures.

Construction work was undertaken. But the TGV traffic stops in Marseille and Toulon and no rides are guaranteed going and departing from Nice. This is also the case for the circulation of Intercités trains.

For the Côte d’Azur airports, the situation was getting back to normal on Monday October 5th, 2015. “In Nice the traffic is running normally and we’ve had no impact on Saint-Tropez.

However, in Cannes, where the airport remained closed on Sunday, October 4th, the flights are still disturbed. But traffic should get back to normal during the day,” states the company’s press service.

At the Nice airport, 800 passengers had to spend the night of Saturday to Sunday in the terminals.

A statement by CRT Côte d’Azur released on Monday October 5th, 2015:

David Lisnard, President of the CRT Côte d’Azur and all of the teams at the CRT restate their support to tourism companies, and their sincere condolences to the families of the victims affected by the torrential rains of Saturday night.

Within the five most impacted zones in the Department: Cannes, Biot, Antibes-Juan-les-Pins, Mandelieu-la-Napoule and Nice, but also their surroundings, the damages are substantial: tourism accommodations, leisure sites, artisanal sites, casino, restaurants, merchants, the Convention Center… In this way, the 2 major touristic attraction sites of the French Riviera were affected: the most visited, with 1.2 million visitors, the Marineland park, and la Verrerie de Biot, the 3rd most visited site, with 700,000 visitors annually.

The tourism professionals, of whom some have lost their entire working tool, are demonstrating unstoppable resilience to repair and rebuild their companies proving that the French Riviera is a strong touristic destination and is able to overcome a challenge of such magnitude.

After the necessary time for mourning and rehabilitation, will quickly come the time to show, once again, to France and the world that the Côte d’Azur brand is strong and supportive.

Then, the CRT Côte d’Azur and its partners will be available to establish operations to benefit the most affected Riviera tourism companies, and the brand Côte d’Azur.

The first Tourism Departmental Encounters, that have been postponed, will take place between now and the end of the year with the ambition of defining together a new French Riviera in complete collaboration between private and public entities of our territory that extends from Monaco to Saint Tropez.

We commend the courage of French Riviera professionals and repeat our availability on their side to help them get back up as soon as possible.

Written by Pierre Coronas translated by Joséphine Foucher the 07/10/2015
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