It is known to be highly appreciated by political figures as an election approaches. But the city of Menton is characterized more broadly by a much richer news than its demography might suggest. Question of ancestral roots, positioning at the border and atypical personalities who came (among others) for the climate. A look back at five events which, in their time, had national repercussions. Even international.
1. Ex-trader Jérôme Kerviel arrested by the police at the border
“I will introduce myself to the first policeman I find”affirmed the ex-trader at the end of a long march started in Rome – in the Vatican – two and a half months earlier.
This evening of May 2014, at midnight sharp, all the newspapers of France and Navarre are present at the Menton border to attend the arrest of Jérôme Kerviel.
He, who is accused of having lost 4.9 billion euros to Société Générale, does not oppose – in fact – any resistance. Haggard eye, hiker’s outfit and backpack, the image of the penitent made all the headlines.
Sentenced to three years in prison, the ex-banker will only spend five months behind bars.
2. The man from Menton was actually… a woman!
In retrospect, the term “Man of Menton” to designate the Palaeolithic skeleton discovered by Émile Rivière in 1872 contained two inaccuracies. The bones were not found in Menton, but in Grimaldi. And it was not a man… but a woman!
The process that led to renaming said discovery “Lady of Cavillon” continues to interest the national media. Like, very recently, National Geographic, Geo, French Radio, Release… It was Marie-Antoinette de Lumley – wife of the famous professor, herself a renowned paleoanthropologist – who first understood the error, in 1988.
Accustomed to passing in front of the reconstructed skeleton in the laboratory of the Musée de l’Homme where she works, she does not take long to grasp that the pelvis – wide with a very open sciatic indentation – is resolutely feminine. But because the tomb was lined with precious objects, it seemed unimaginable, for many years, not to identify it as that of a man…
3. The madman who loved the sickle, the ax and the chainsaw too much
The news item had all the ingredients to appear in a Halloween program. Although we still hesitate between the references to The City of Fear or at Chainsaw Massacre. This is Paris Match who, in this year 2016, seizes the story. The weight of the words, without the shock of the photos, the newspaper evokes the sad fate of an unbalanced felled after a chase. Itself linked to a refusal to comply.
“According to the prosecutor, the madman first tried to knock down one of the policemen who approached on foot with his colleagues. One of them fired and grabbed the man by the hair on the passenger side. The latter took out a sickle, trying to strike him in the throat. Two police officers used their weapon, the one who was directly attacked by the unbalanced killed him”reported the media.
Stating that the man was known for “severe psychiatric disorders”. In 2010, he had already chased walkers in Menton with a chainsaw. Then tried to attack plainclothes police… with an axe!
4. A Russian admiral buried in Trabuquet repatriated with great fanfare
The newspapers specializing in the navy as well as the Russian press rejoiced when they learned that the remains of Admiral Ivan Grigorovich – the last minister of the imperial navy of Tsar Nicholas II, who had been buried since 1930 in the Trabuquet cemetery – were going to to be repatriated to the banks of the Neva in 2005.
Two years earlier, the descendants had approached the services of the civil status of Menton in search of their glorious ancestor. Before the highest authorities of the two countries join forces to make Grigorovich’s return to his land a reality. On D-Day, two Russian cruisers – the Moskwa and the Pitlyvy – were chartered by Moscow, in addition to the frigate Guépratte dispatched by the French navy.
The story goes that in 1924, after helping to refloat the Russian fleet, the Admiral was allowed to travel overseas for treatment. He will choose the Pearl of France, where he will die.
5. 2,000 scientists sign the “Message from Menton”
A few days before the launch of COP27 in Egypt, the anniversary of which RFI echoed last year remains fully relevant. We were then celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the “Message from Menton”, a kind of environmental manifesto delivered to the hands of the Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant, on May 11, 1971.
After being signed by 2,200 world-renowned scientists. Why Menton? For the simple reason that some of the protagonists had met in the border town, a year earlier, to lay the groundwork for a mobilization in favor of the environment.
In their message – published in the Unesco Courier – scientists and pacifists make three major observations: technologies are upsetting the balance of biological life. Demographic growth induces a cruel lack of space.
Natural resources are gradually being depleted, and all the more so with the rise of industry. Any coincidence with a current observation can only be fortuitous…