Letter from Nice

Rose 02

Re: Terrorist Attack, 14 July 2016

Dear Readers,

Today’s post is a letter to let you all know that I am fine and to thank you for your concern, and your thoughts and prayers. Jeff was away, and I went to the July 14 fireworks display with some friends. About three minutes before the truck came barreling through the crowd I was walking along the same route, thinking what a wonderful evening it had been and how nice to be in a happy, family atmosphere.

Then I turned down the street where I live, which is just off the Promenade. It’s a pedestrian street lined with restaurants and tables spilling into the street. It’s a main passageway for people going to the Promenade and is always packed after an event. So we were shoulder to shoulder, moving along very slowly. I hadn’t been on my street more than three minutes when people behind me began to scream and run, there was the sound of glass shattering and other things breaking.

Of course, everyone assumed right away that it was a terrorist attack, but there was nowhere to run on this packed street. People started throwing tables out of the way and pouring into the restaurants and buildings. The man next to me overturned a table and scrambled over it to get into a restaurant and I followed. The shocked staff ushered us through the kitchen to a small storage area where we hid and waited. At this point, no one knew what had happened or what would happen next. We waited probably twenty minutes and when all seemed calm, we ventured out.

I had been just one door away from my apartment. Throughout this time, I had been reasonably calm, but as soon as I got home, I started shaking and was sick at my stomach. When the news came out on TV and I realized what had happened, I started to worry about my friends. Facebook’s “check-in” service was really invaluable, as it allowed me to see which of my friends had marked themselves as “safe.” I’m happy to say that they have now all been accounted for. I’m thankful to the restaurants for taking in and hiding all the terrified people, even though their businesses sustained a lot of damage.

It was terrifying, but I was certainly one of the lucky ones. My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives or were injured in this horrible attack. Nice is in mourning, but there is a solidarity among the people and an extraordinary kindness. It’s still a wonderful place to live.

Again, thank you to everyone who wrote and everyone who sent thoughts and prayers our way.

PS  Jeff arranged a flight the next day and is with me now.

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Margo Lestz


  1. Thank goodness you are safe. I cannot begin to comprehend how you must still be feeling having been so close to the atrocity.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience Margo, it must have been terrifying…. Thankfully you are safe and well.

  3. What a horrible experience. Thank god you are ok. My friend’s daughter was 1 meter from the truck as it flew by. She is ok but saw many die. So traumatic. I did see on FB that you were ok..

    1. How horrible for your friend’s daughter! I’m so glad that I didn’t see the worst part. The promenade is lined with small memorials where people died. So sad!

  4. What a horrible thing thing to have to witness. I am so very sorry for the tragedy there. This senseless killing of people….I just want it to stop. You are all in our thoughts.

    1. Yes, the restaurants were great and even regular people were opening their doors to let people in. I think most people are genuinely good and kind.

  5. Hi Margo and Jeff

    What tragedy in such a wonderful place so glad to hear you are ok!

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience..it’s heartening to hear how well people react and help each other in such a nightmare event. Hopefully you heal quickly from the shock. Hi to Jeff from a grade school friend❤️

    1. Thank you, I’m feeling better each day. People really are kind and brave in situations like this. Thanks for writing and hello from Jeff.

  7. I am so relieved to read these words from you, Margo! It seems like this week has all been devoted to locating and securing friends around the world between the friends in France and Turkey. The life of an expat carries with it the risk of losing friends twice… Once when someone moves and potentially again in a tragedy. Glad you and Jeff are together and recovering. Be well.

    1. Thank you, Jonelle. I know, it seems there is tragedy everywhere. I have a great appreciation now for the Facebook check-in system – it was really helpful. Thanks for your note.

  8. I have spoken to several people here who said as soon as the fireworks were over there was a huge wind that came up and some light rain drops. They all said they decided to NOT walk down the promenade but head home to miss the rain. This cleared out much of the Promenade as people poured into the side streets. -Jeff

    1. It’s true, just at the end, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and a few raindrops started to fall. I’m sure this did discourage many people from lingering on the Prom. It could have been even worse, but for the weather.

  9. Thanks so much for sharing, it’s important to hear and helps heal. I also believe in the goodness of people, it is the few that create such trauma. So glad you are alright!

  10. Hi Margo,

    I’m so relieved to hear that your safe and doing well. You are always in my thoughts. Please take care. Miss you a lot. Zainab x

  11. Thank you for sharing your story! I am so glad you are safe, and that there are those like the restaurant owners who provided safe haven during this terrible attack.

    I wish you–and all of Nice–well on your road to recovery, to getting back to some semblance of security in these uncertain and terrifying times.

  12. Margo, thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. It helps somehow to know that restaurants gave shelter and people came together at such a shocking and heartbreaking time. What a difference three minutes can make. We paid our respects to the memorials yesterday and were deeply touched. #NiceIsLove

    1. Thanks, Patricia. People really did pull together. My neighbor opened the door to her home to shelter strangers, as did many others. There are so many wonderful people in the world.

  13. Margo, thanks for sharing this. I don’t think the sadness and pain will ever go away but it is good to read of the kindness, the solidarity of the people of Nice and that will never disappear. with love.

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