French and Riviera News Monday 31st December 2018

Local

Yellow Vests - The Yellow Vest movement has announced they will be gathering in Nice this evening at Place Massena. Last week ended with police managing to prevent protestors attempting to enter Fort Brégançon the French President’s holiday residence in Bormes-les-Mimosas in the Var.

Meanwhile according to reports this weekend has shown a low turnout amongst the movement with fewer protests in Paris and elsewhere in France, less than a thousand Yellow Vests gathered in the capital Paris, Marseille, and Nantes on Saturday afternoon. In Bordeaux the number of protestors was higher, as some 2,400 people turned out, shouting, "Macron resign!”.

Several members of the movement say the decline is only due to the holiday season and predict a high turnout in January, despite measures by President Macron to calm the movement new protests are expected on the Champs-Elysees this evening, amid a lights display that typically attracts large crowds of spectators.

Changes in January - With January often marking a time for change there are several new laws and price hikes that will affect life in France. From January 1st, France's minimum wage is set to increase by 1.5 percent. The French government announced in December that from 2019 pensioners receiving less than  €2,000 per month will be exempt from the rise in the cost of the CSG "social charges" that came into effect in 2018. Meanwhile pensions are set to go up by just 0.3 percent from January. The government's plan to phase out the residence tax called the taxe d'habitation saw many households in France better off in 2018. And in 2019, the measure should be even more noticeable, with a further 30 percent drop before it is completely abolished in 2020. 

From January 1st 2019, the money earned by working overtime will be exempt from tax.  All employees, including civil servants, will benefit from this scheme. The government is pushing ahead with the long-planned reform to deduct income tax directly from workers' paychecks on a monthly basis from January 2019.

While Gas prices will reportedly fall on average by 1.9 percent on January 1st the bad news is that electricity prices are set to rise in 2019, according to Le Parisien, possibly by more than 2.3 percent. 

On the road if you're one of the hundreds of thousands of uninsured motorists in France, beware. From January 1st, the French police will have access to files that make it easier for them to detect uninsured vehicles on the road.

And finally it’s bad news for smokers in 2019 with price hikes planned for April and November.  Meaning that the average price of a packet of cigarettes will be around €9 at the end of 2019. 

Population of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region - Figures published by INSEE have shown that as of January 1st 2016 the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region had just over five million inhabitants representing 8% of the national population. Between 2011 and 2016, the population grew by an average of 0.4% each year lower than the national average of 0.5% according to INSEE. The Var region saw its population grow and if in the Alpes-Maritimes the three most populated cities remain Nice, Antibes and Cannes, in the last 5 years, Antibes has lost 0.4% of its inhabitants each year.

Celebrating in the snow - Snow-trails, marshmallow parties and fireworks are all planned at the regions snow resorts of Isola 2000, Auron and Valberg for this evening’s New Year celebrations. Some activities are free for today and tomorrow with music and laser shows starting from 4.30 this afternoon.

National

Inmate escapes from prison - Police in the Val de Marne region of Paris are still searching for a prisoner who managed to escape on Sunday afternoon. Despite several shots fired by supervisors the inmate who was being held for several armed robberies managed to escape and is still at large.  

Petition against global warming - A petition launched by four French NGOs to protest France’s failure to take measures to curb global warming has collected nearly two million votes. With temperatures averaging 14°C, 2018 was France's warmest year on record. Unsatisfied with the French government's response, climate crusaders launched the petition which in just a week, collected close to two million votes, making it the most popular petition ever in France – significantly more than the Yellow Vest movement, at just over a million. Several celebrities, including Marion Cotillard, joined the movement. NGOs have given the French government two months to reply to the petition.

French newspaper apologises - French newspaper Le Monde has apologised to its readers for publishing a controversial cover photo of President Emmanuel Macron in its weekly Mmagazine, that some have compared to Hitler. The cover issued on Saturday featured a black and white photograph of Macron standing against a red background, with an image of Yellow Vest protesters surging towards the Arc de Triomphe. The magazine’s readers were quick to draw comparisons between the photo and an illustration of Adolf Hitler.

Poll - A poll carried out for Le Journal du dimanche has shown that singer songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman, and actors Omar Sy and Dany Boon are the most loved personalities in France. They are closely followed by footballer Kylian Mbappé, astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Zinedine Zidane. For the first time, no women appeared in the top ten places of the ranking.

Business

China has said it is "ready to work" with the US, suggesting progress in trade talks between the two countries.

China's statement comes after President Donald Trump tweeted "big progress"was being made in relations after a call with the Chinese President.

Italy's parliament has approved a revised budget for 2019, amid opposition complaints that it was dictated by the EU. The country's populist government had originally vowed to push through costly campaign promises including a universal basic income. But in October, the European Commission raised concerns about the impact of such spending on Italy's debt levels. Under a deal struck with the Commission last week, Italy lowered its planned budget deficit from 2.4% of GDP to 2.04%.

And - A shipping firm which had been handed a £13.8m contract to run extra ferries in the event of a "no-deal" Brexit, has defended itself amid criticism it doesn't currently have any ships. Questions have been raised over the Government's preparations after it emerged that Seaborne Freight was one of three companies awarded contracts totalling £108m last week to lay on additional freight crossings to ease the pressure on Dover.

The retailer HMV has called in administrators after being battered by "extremely weak" Christmas trading on the high street and a collapse in the demand for CDs and DVDs. It is the second time in six years that the retailer, which employs about 2,200 people, has fallen into administration. The company said its 125 UK stores would continue to trade as it held talks with major suppliers in the entertainment industry.

Sport

Football - In the English Premier league this weekend Crystal Palace were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea, Burnley beat West Ham 2 – 0 Man City beat Southampton 3-1 and Man United beat Bournemouth 4-1. The results saw Liverpool’s ten point lead be reduced to 7 following Man City’s performance at the weekend. 

Rugby Union - Harlequins and England full-back Mike Brown has said that match officials are failing to protect players after claiming he could have broken his neck in an aerial collision in Saturday's win over Wasps. The incident went unpunished by the referee despite replays on the big screens at Twickenham.

Tennis – Roger Federer outplayed Britain's Cameron Norrie as defending champions Switzerland swept Great Britain aside with a 3-0 victory at the Hopman Cup.

Cricket - India saw off Australia by 137 runs in the third Test in Melbourne to take a 2-1 lead in the series. The fourth and final Test starts in Sydney on 2 January.

Weather

Clear skies today with highs of 16 degrees in Menton and Nice, 17 in Antibes, reaching as high as 18 in Theoule sur mer and Saint Tropez with a light variable wind.

This evening if you are out and about celebrating a clear night going down to 10 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes however slighting cooler in the Var going down to 3 degrees.

The outlook for New Year’s Day temperatures similar to today however becoming increasingly cloudy as the day goes on.

Wednesday cloudy with some sunny spells and highs of 14 degrees.

Finally 

Is it written in the stars? As new research shows that Scorpios are 74 per cent more successful on dating apps… but it’s bad news for Sagittarians.

According to the research despite your best efforts to offer up an enticing profile photo and witty come-ons, if you’re a Sagittarius you’re statistically less likely to bag a “like”.

It’s good news if you're a Scorpio, as they scooped up almost an eighth (12 per cent) of all "likes" - presumably making them more likely to end up with a date - making them 74 per cent more successful than those at the bottom.

Librans came in second with just under 10 per cent, followed by Virgo with 8.72 per cent.

Poor Sagittarians lagged at the bottom, along with Aquarians and Capricorns.

 

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