CAGNES-SUR-MER, France — Few people wander through a quiet Saturday morning market in Cagnes-sur-Mer, as a small group of boys play soccer in front of them. The sun is shinning, but business owners are spending time talking amongst themselves rather than with customers.
Fifteen kilometres away in Nice, thousands of tourists have come to watch the 2016 European football championship. While in the France, over 1 million foreign tourists are expected to spend around 1 billion euros over the monthlong tournament, according to Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) statistics. Despite this, business owners in the towns outside Nice say they haven’t seen the money.
“The Euro Cup hasn’t given me anymore customers at all,” Cagnes-sur-Mer jewelry maker Patricia Giner said in French.
The UEFA European Championship (Euro Cup) is a major soccer tournament held every four years. From June 10 to July 10, 10 cities in France will host games, including Nice, where four games are scheduled to be played.
Like Giner, other business owners in the town said they haven’t seen an increase in business because of the tournament.
Mireille Giffe, a chocolatier in Cagnes-sur-Mer, said the whole past year has been slow, despite the Euro Cup nearby.
“The past year the number of people we see is going down,” she said in French. “Last year, the numbers in June were higher than this year.”
Cagnes-sur-Mer is not the only town around Nice that has not seen a significant number of Euro Cup visitors. Jean Pierre Bidegainberry, a toy store owner in Èze, said he hasn’t seen soccer fans in town either. He said they are looking for something completely different from what he is offering.
Georges Herman, a tour guide in Nice and co-owner of a bed and breakfast, said the trend in Cagnes-sur-Mer and Èze is because of the soccer fans themselves. He agrees with Bidegainberry.
“Soccer fans are not after the same experience [as regular tourists],” Herman said.
He said soccer fans are not interested in the culture of Nice itself. They are more interested in going to a pub to watch a match and being with other fans.
“I don’t think they would be so keen on trying the local specialties or going for a tour in the lavender fields, or the other things our region has to offer,” Herman said. “The tournament could be in Barcelona or in Rome, I think they would have the same experience.”
Herman said he normally takes guests at the bed and breakfast on tours around the French Riviera. This year however, he hasn’t taken out any groups since the Euro Cup started on June 10.
Clive Robinson, a soccer fan from Northern Ireland, said he wasn’t staying in France long enough to visit any towns around Nice. He arrived in the city on June 12, the day of a match between Northern Ireland and Poland, and left the day after, on June 13.
Marc Montgomery, a honey vendor in Cagnes-sur-Mer, said there are a number of issues affecting his business, including that Euro Cup visitors are not travelling to the towns around Nice.
“Because of the problems we have now, the numbers have gone down. It’s sad, but that’s how it is,” Montgomery said in French.
He believes many North American tourists are scared to come to France because of terrorist attacks in Paris. Security concerns mean tourists, when they do come, are only allowed to bring small amounts of honey on the plane with them back home. He said this has been tough on his business.
“There is a crisis now,” Montgomery said. “People buy less, it’s not like it was before. Today, even tourists buy less when they do come.”