Pharmacie Mercier in Jewish history of Nice

This is the pharmacie Mercier on ave. Jean Médecin and rue Pastorelli. You probably have walked by it many times without ever thinking about its place in history. This pharmacy belonged to the grandfather of Michèle Mercier, the famous actress. René Mercier was the inventor of Mercier ointment and other renowned cosmetics made in Nice.
When the Gestapo arrived suddenly in Nice on September 8, 1943, round-ups of Jews began. One could be stopped on the street, at work, or in their homes to be arrested and sent away or the parents would be simply forced to flee without their kids. Not only were Jews arrested, but anyone could be if they didn’t have the proper documents or the Gestapo didn’t like they way they looked. Their children would suddenly find themselves alone and without parents or relatives or even friends willing to risk their lives to harbor Jews. Here is where the pharmacie Mercier came in. It was the designated place for children to go if they could not find their parents. Parents would point out the pharmacie and let their kids know that if anything happened to them, this is the place they should go. From here, the children would be placed into the care of the Réseau Marcel, an organization which saved 527 kids whose parents had been taken by the Nazis. The Réseau Marcel would take care of these kids, find them places to live and survive during those awful months until the Allies liberated Nice in August of the following year.
The history of Jewish Nice is not well known. Via Nissa provides on request tours of Jewish Nice, which has some of the most important Jewish history in all of Europe. Unlike certain places, Nice was never subjected to bombardment, meaning all of its history remains intact. Known as the Last Refugee of Jews during the War, Nice also has Jewish history dating from the Medieval period including a ghetto, which was imposed 90 years before that of more famous locations like Venice, Italy.
It is the everyday places we see, or shop at, which hold secrets waiting to be discovered. Via Nissa is not a tour agency, but a team devoted to the history of the region, particular by examining, documenting and writing the history of houses, villas, and chateaux on the Côte d’Azur.