Traders on the former RN-7 in Villeneuve for 90 years, they tell of the changes to this mythical road

The Fine family has its roots well anchored on the edge of the Nationale 7. Since 1932. In 90 years, there have been changes on this mythical holiday route. The restaurant Les Touristes – located opposite the luminous fountain in Villeneuve-Loubet – has gone through these times.

Initially, the establishment was a stagecoach relay. “The horses entered on the car park side and came out on the garden side. There were rings to tie them, there must be one left”rewinds Gisèle Fine.

One business, five generations!

His grandparents were the first to settle there. In the 1930s, then. Her parents took over the business, then her, in 1985. Since 2006, Stéphane, her son, has run the shop. And tomorrow, surely, it will be the turn of Mathis, his grandson.

On the RN-7, horses were quickly replaced by displacements. And the stagecoach becomes a point of reference for truckers.

On the left, the hotel Les Touristes in the mid-1940s. It is interesting to note that the three openings of the establishment on the Nationale 7 are French windows. “We still have them, but today they are windows,” smiles Stéphane Fine. “Before, we used to descend on the road, besides there were stairs. Today, the road is much higher with all the layers that have been added from decades to decades.” Photo DR.

“It was the main road. There was not the one by the sea with the aerodrome at La Fontonne”rewinds Gisèle Fine. “Everyone was passing by”.

Especially since the restaurant was located opposite a totem of the RN-7: the luminous fountain. The building housed the former Ozo petrol station, which later became Total.

The arrival of the A8 motorway

“At the end of our parking lot, there was the gas pump for the trucks”, shows Gisèle Fine in a photo from the time. The trucks outside, and the trucks inside. They stopped for a bite to eat, slept in the bedrooms upstairs and, from 1947, bought their tobacco on the ground floor.

All that was before the construction of the A8 motorway. A turning point. The Mandelieu-Villeneuve-Loubet section dates from 1961 and that which connects the city of Escoffier to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, from 1976.

Gisèle Fine remembers the exact date of this photo. 1957. No, the year is not written on the back of the image in gray pencil. This shot was captured just before an event that marked him. “We see, in the garden of the restaurant, a flock of geese. He was there on purpose for my communion. Finally, a fox ate them all.” Photo DR.

End of an era for the establishment and, more broadly, the National 7. “The trucks no longer passed by. So we stopped the restoration.”

Les Touristes becomes a tobacco bar and sells newspapers. Until 2006. Stéphane Fine takes over the business and reopens the kitchen. “We are a brewery with local and fresh products. We have kept the spirit of the truck stop.”

Proof of this is the plate of the time hung on the wall where one can read “The truckers”. A nod to the past. And to the history of this establishment which continues to live to the rhythm of what is today the former RN-7.

“I was there”: the day of Charles Trenet’s accident

Gisèle Fine was practically “born” on the National 7. If she does not shoot her interlocutor with her anecdotes, she has one that is worth the detour. And to be cliché to the end: the story takes place on this artery and has as its protagonist… Charles Trenet!

The one who sang National Route 7 would have had a narrow escape when Gisèle was little. She tells: “He had an accident there in front. When it was already no longer the Ozo gas station but Total. His car was stored in the station.”

Cherry on the cake? “They found one of his teeth in the vehicle.” An anecdote that is worth gold: “It’s not a rumor! I was there.”

To a lesser extent, his son, Stéphane, remembers the day when the roadway was adorned in white. “I was little and there was a Candia truck that overturned, there was milk all over the road!”

Charles Trenet, here in Cannes, in 1946. Photo Gilles Traverso.


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