Looking out from Pebbles’ Providence apartment in a quiet corner of Vieux Nice, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back in time – the family-run boutiques and cafes, gentle chimes of the clock towers and quaint shutters on the pastel-coloured buildings all transpire to create a sense of times gone by.
But this week, you’d be looking at a moving picture of 1940s Nice. Rue de la Providence has been turned into a film set for ‘’Un Sac de Billes’’ (A Bag of Marbles), an adaptation of the novel by Paris-born writer Joseph Joffo.
In the early years of the Second World War, while Northern France was under German occupation, the Riviera was controlled by the much more lenient Italians. Thousands of Jews fled here from all over Europe to escape Nazi persecution. The Riviera had a reputation of being a sanctuary where Jews and non-Jews could enjoy peace and sunshine without fear.
Amongst them was 10 year old Joseph Joffo, who came to the South of France to establish a new life with his family.
Back to the present day. The whole street corner has been closed off to prepare the scene. Entire shops have been created to make the setting as authentic as possible. Propaganda posters are pasted to the walls. Over 100 people are dressed up in period costumes or as soldiers, which makes for an amusing sight when they all go to have their lunch on the benches at the Promenade du Paillon.
Although photos are not allowed and the security guards keep having to tell onlookers to be quiet, the atmosphere is good-humoured and a very exciting time for local residents.
Due to be released at the end of 2016, the film stars actor-singer Patrick Bruel and our very own Providence apartment as a backdrop! Until then, the novel ”Un Sac de Billes” is available in English, and is a fascinating reflection of life on the Riviera during the Second World War, through the eyes of a young Jewish boy.