UPDATE: Check out the comments for an eye-witness account by one of the restaurant’s clients…
The irony is that it wasn’t even a Nice match! Yesterday, the Corsica-Nice ferry brought over four busloads of Corsican football fans on their way to a match in Frejus. Having been warned by the boat about its rowdy load, the police were already present at the dock when the boat came in at 1:30pm and were immediately pelted with projectiles from the boat. To calm things down, the police held the buses from disembarking the ferry for an hour, but when they finally gave the go-ahead, the buses went about a block before getting stuck in traffic in front of the restaurant La Goelette.
Having a Coke on the terrace were a handful of rival Nice football fans that couldn’t resist hooting and insulting the Bastia team. Note to self: don’t mess with Corsicans. The bus doors opened and the Corsicans streamed out… and all hell broke loose: rocks, bottles, cans rained down on the bus and restaurant terrace… then the hammers, smoke bombs, cement-filled pipes came out… a molotov cocktail lit the restaurant curtains on fire…tables and chairs and metal construction barriers went flying, smashing all cars and scooters unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. It was all-out saloon brawl straight out of an old Western, completely destroying the restaurant La Goelette, whose traumatized staff and clients were cowering behind the bar and hiding upstairs.
The police ran up the quai but it had all happened in a flash and they were too late. The best they could do was corral the Corsicans and search them one-by-one, confiscating an impressive array of bombs, clubs and brass knuckles (called poings Americains in French, or American fists!) At 5pm the buses left for Frejus under police escort… to go to the 8pm match. …Really? The police let the hooligans go to the football match after that? Maybe even the Nice police don’t mess with Corsicans.