Streams of migrants, all male, being led on the final leg of their journey to an administrative center where the initial paperwork of their asylum claims to remain in France will be processed.
With increased security controls on direct road and rail routes along the touristic French Riviera, thousands of migrants are taking mountain trails and following train tracks north from the Italian frontier town of Ventimiglia, now a migrant bottleneck, in order to cross into France at Breil-sur-Roya and isolated mountain villages inside the French border.
From here, migrants are fed, clothed and sheltered by associations which regularly lead convoys by train – but also on foot – from the picturesque Italian-style villages of the Roya Valley down towards Nice.
Central to this new migrant route is Cédric Herrou, the local olive grower who has described it as his life’s mission to assist migrants crossing into France, housing dozens on his farm and regularly leading large groups to Nice to begin their asylum process, as witnessed multiple times in previous months.
A folk hero to many on the left, described as the ”Robin Hood” of migrants, Herrou is the public face of ‘’Roya Citoyenne’’, one of several pro-migrant and open borders organizations active in the region and known as far away as Sudan and Eritrea where word has spread via social media of the assistance being offered to those seeking to make the crossing into France.
Herrou, arrested several times on immigration-related offenses, has been acquitted each time by sympathetic judges, frustrating border enforcement and political representatives in the conservative Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France.
Since his last trial in February, Herrou has led several convoys from his mountain valley to the city of Nice, with migrants camping out in the city’s Parc d’Estienne d’Orves, a nature reserve otherwise offering tourists and hikers scenic views of Nice and its famous azure blue coastline.