The Saudi royal family has infuriated residents of a French Riviera town by blocking off a secluded public beach it intends to have exclusive access to for the duration of the family’s forthcoming seaside holiday.
The Saudi royals and their large entourage will be spending a few weeks at their luxury mansion in Vallauris, which is right next to the picturesque Mirandole beach that is only accessible by a tunnel that runs beneath the coastal railway line.
And well before the scheduled royal holiday was due to begin, locals reacted with fury Wednesday when they found the tunnel fenced off and a mysterious concrete slab laid down by the entrance to the beach. Both actions, according to local authorities, are completely illegal.
“We have had no planning application for this work,” Vallauris Mayor Michelle Salucki told local newspaper Nice Matin.
“Local police have been alerted and have been told to remove this obstruction to public access,” she said. “The law must be respected and no decree has been issued by the regional prefect [the chief representative of the French state’s authority] blocking access to this public beach.”
According to Philippe Castanet, the sub-prefect of the local town of Grasse, the Saudis are due to be given the go-ahead to close off the beach, but he admitted that the fencing off of the beach had been “premature”.
“These works went ahead before the ongoing negotiations between France and the Saudi authorities over the security arrangements during the royal family’s stay in Vallauris had been finalised,” he told AFP.
“This public beach will be completely closed off during the Saudi royal family’s visit,” he added. “We are still negotiating how they will be protected, by security agents or police, whether or not areas will be fenced off from the public, and exactly when we will be able to re-establish full public access to the beach.”
Date created : 2015-07-16