The story of the Ottoman cannonballs in Nice
This is the second smallest country in the world after Vatican City, measuring two square kilometers in area. That's right -- two square kilometers. In the beginning, this seems unbelievable. This is a small country that has some tall buildings. Monaco is a member state of the UN. The population is 33,000 and its capital city is Monte Carlo.
Even though it is a small state, Monaco is able to attract a huge number of visitors every year. Banking, tourism and gambling are its main sources of revenue. The country is administered by a constitutional monarchy. The head of state is the prince of Monaco, who lives in a castle on the top of a hill. The Grimaldi family has ruled the country for seven centuries.
We leave one of the smallest states in the world and head towards Cannes, a city known for its film festivals. The population of Cannes is 70,000. The most important event in the city is the Cannes Film Festival, organized in mid-May every year in the Palace of Festivals. The scenery in Cannes is just breathtaking.
Nearly 1,400 Turks live in Cannes and Nice, and they mostly work in construction. They are doing their best to make a living. We stop by the Ala Turca kebab restaurant in Mandelieu, near Cannes. The Turkish entrepreneurs proudly offer Turkish shawarma -- a Levantine meal in which lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are grilled on a spit for as long as a day -- on the southern shores of France. We enjoy freshly served dishes, and the owner and the staff love their jobs.
We return to the city of Nice where we started our tour. We are surprised to see an Ottoman cannonball on the wall during our city tour. The Ottoman army sieged the city in 1543 and used cannonballs to seize control. One of these balls has been kept on the city walls.
Back in 1543, Nice was under the control of the Germans, the archenemy of the French. The Ottoman navy was asked by the French king to rescue the city. The Ottomans took the city from the Germans in 10 days and handed it over to the French. It was almost winter; therefore, the operation was postponed to the springtime. The Ottoman navy spent the winter in another French city, Toulon, which took on the appearance of an Ottoman city. The commander of the navy, Barbarossa, became upset because the French who had asked for their assistance were not ready for war and the promises they made were not kept. He then decided to withdraw the Ottoman fleet. In April of 1544, the Ottoman navy returned home after saving the south of France from the German occupation. After the Ottomans left, the French envoy said: “There has been no complaint that the Turks hurt anybody here. They were kind and polite. They paid for everything they bought during their stay.”
The residents of Toulon told stories of the Ottoman troops who were staying in their city; they remembered the Turks praying and bringing peace to the city as well as making their city a second İstanbul. A few centuries after this incident, a glorious painting depicting the Ottoman navy anchored in the Port of Toulon was hung in the municipal palace of the city, which hosted one of the most crucial bases of the French navy. An inscription below the painting honoring the memory of Barbarossa reads, “What you see is Barbarossa and his navy, who saved us all.”
Turkish Airlines (THY) is the only airline flying directly from İstanbul to Nice, and travel between İstanbul and Monte Carlo, Cannes or St. Tropez takes only two-and-a-half hours. Turkish Airlines has daily flights to Nice because of growing demand. The number of French tourists using Turkish Airlines in Nice has increased by 80 percent over the last year.
Turks living in the region have launched an education center, which they have needed for years, to educate their children. The Etude La Fontaine education center was founded in Marseilles in 2007. In 2008, it moved to its own building, and classes began on Nov. 8, 2008. Currently, there are 60 students studying at the center. The students take complimentary classes, and in addition to basic classes they also take English lessons. Center administrators note that they instruct the classes, particularly mathematics, in the French language, to make sure that the students address their deficiencies in school. The center also offers social activities for its students, including guitar, theatre and folklore classes as well as Turkish language sessions for the French students.