Nice sombrely defiant after Bastille Day attack

Nice sombrely defiant after Bastille Day attack

Nice is in mourning but it's not cowering.

While far quieter than usual, the city's old town still has the distinct feel of summer in Nice.

It's there that New Zealander Nick Tempest and his French girlfriend Mel Brard own their café.

They've only been open five weeks and chose to stay open in the days after the attack.

"[There are] a lot of customers coming in and they want to talk about it so I think it's been good for them and for us to sort of talk through it and sort of express how we feel about it," Mr Tempest says.

"It was a bit hard because our heart was not here but we got motivated and said we got to keep going," Ms Brard says.

On July 14, they were two of the 30,000 people watching the Bastille Day fireworks before a truck mowed through the crowd.

"Everybody kind of started running," Mr Tempest recalls.

"We heard some shots as well but we thought that was just like fireworks or kids playing," Ms Brard remembers. 

But chances are they were gun shots - either those that killed Mohamed Bouhlel or the shots he fired into the crowd.

"We didn't know if it was someone with a gun shooting people or a bomb or whatever," Ms Brard says.

 "And you don't want to believe it because it's not in your nature to do something like this so you're like 'no it's not possible'."

Five people thought to have links with Bouhlel are being questioned by police.

But there's still confusion about his motives and whether he was tied to Islamic State (IS) which has claimed responsibility, saying one of its soldiers.

There was none of the usual IS propaganda that goes with an attack. Bouhlel's father also says his son had no ties to terrorists.

Paris prosecutor Fancois Molins has backed that up, saying: "Bouhlel was completely unknown by intelligence services and had never shown any signs of radicalisation".

The scene of the mass murder - the Promenade des Anglais - has now reopened.

It has become a place for people to pay their respects and send a message to those claiming responsibility.

"If you think about it too much you feed it. Feed that fear which is of course what they want," Mr Tempest says.

The mood along the coast and throughout Nice doesn't have the joie de vivre it used to - for now it's been replaced by sombre defiance.

So, as they did in Paris after last November's attacks and after the Charlie Hebdo and grocery store attacks in Paris, people in Nice are rallying.

 They're coming together - they're really making the point that they will not be intimidated.

But the fact we can even compare this attack with another, let alone more than one, demonstrates just how volatile the situation is.

It is a true test of France's resilience.