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Nice changes traditional cannon to honour visiting Scottish rugby team

The city’s long-standing 12:00 midday cannon shot was altered at the weekend to celebrate its Scottish links

The origins of this tradition are disputed Pic: Azer Achmedov / Shutterstock

The French city of Nice changed its customary midday cannon shot last weekend, in honour of the Scottish rugby team choosing the city as its base for the Rugby World Cup.

The Rugby World Cup is currently being held in France, with major cities including Lyon, Bordeaux, Lille, and Marseille among those hosting matches.

The Scottish team has based its operations in the Alpes-Maritimes capital.

The city of Nice fires a cannon shot everyday at midday, in a long-running tradition known as ‘lou canoun de Miejour’, which started in 1863.

On Saturday (September 9), the shot was fired three minutes late, with a second shot sent immediately after. The second shot was fired by Maree Todd, the Scottish Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, under the watch of the Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi.

The shot marked the first game played by Scotland in the Rugby World Cup (which the team lost). The game ended 18-3 against South Africa at the Marseille Stadium.

Scotland’s next game, against Tonga, will take place in Nice on Sunday, September 24.

Lunchtime reminder?

The city’s midday tradition is very similar to the ‘one o’clock gun’ of Edinburgh, which was established in 1861 to signal ships in the harbour.

The precise origins of the tradition in Nice, however, are slightly murky.

Most stories found online say that the tradition was initiated in 1862 by a Scottish man named Sir Thomas Coventry-More, who was based in Nice. It is said that he was exasperated by his wife’s tardiness after her morning walk, and persuaded Nice’s mayor to shoot from the cannon to remind her to come home in time for lunch.

However, although that colourful story has been mythologised and shared through word-of-mouth, it is unverified and seen as unlikely by most researchers. Mr Coventry-More is more likely to have instigated the cannon firing as part of his work on time measurement.

Yet, this shared tradition serves as a reminder that Nice and Edinburgh have been twin cities since 1958, and the Saturday firing helped to confirm the link once more.

The Rugby World Cup began on September 8 and is set to continue until Saturday, October 28. The final will be held at the Stade de France in Paris.

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