Laura McGarrity and boyfriend Chris Lismore, from Belfast, were just a few hundred yards from the attack and fled the terrifying scene on Thursday night. Lauradescribes how she spent a surreal and upsetting day in Nice yesterday.
As you can imagine, I woke up yesterday morning to lots of messages from family and friends, wanting to know that we were safe.
I had stayed up late on Twitter, searching for news updates. I’d also talked to my mum and dad on the phone. We used the Facebook safety check to mark ourselves ‘safe in Nice’ and were able to tell most of our friends and family.
The first thing we did was to go down to the Promenade des Anglais. I don’t think I really believed or understood that it had really happened here in Nice. I wanted to see it in the daylight for myself. Walking down through Massena Square the streets were full of people, and that surprised me.
On the promenade the first thing I noticed was that the stairs down to the beach had been closed and part of the promenade had been blocked off. My boyfriend Chris pointed out that there were a few naval boats in the bay.
We walked down the barriers and you could see the white truck. There were lots of police cars around it and you could still see the broken windscreen. It was all very quiet; no one was crying or even talking. Not knowing what really to do with ourselves we walked back to our hotel. You could hear sirens and see helicopters flying overhead all afternoon.
Later on we walked back down to the waterfront and noticed that the beach had re-opened. The barriers were still up across the road and people had started to lay flowers. There were national police all along the barriers and army walking through the streets. We walked home through the Old Town where they were having a Mass for the victims.
Hearing different accounts from others about last night, we realised just how incredibly lucky we were to have been a little further up the promenade from the incident and not have witnessed the destruction up close.
I think I am still in shock that this happened here and I feel incredibly sad for the families of the victims. But we haven’t once considered flying home early. It’s scary but the reality is that the risk of terrorism is everywhere at the moment.
I just hope this awful attack hasn’t put people off coming here and enjoying France. We love Nice and will be visiting again.
The Euro 2016 football championship had passed off without terrorist attack. President Francois Hollande had announced that the state of emergency, declared after the November 13 attacks in Paris, would lapse at the end of this month. The summer holidays were starting. The economy was beginning to revive.