French and Riviera News Thursday 20th February 2020

Local

Elderly lady found dead in her home in Le Rouret - An elderly ladt has been found dead at her home in Le Rouret. Emergency services were alerted by worried neighbours on Wednesday afternoon. Police believe the death to be accidental, an investigation has been launched.

Strike action - For the 8th time in less than three months, the regional Lignes d'Azur bus network is on strike today against the pension reform. Due to a national movement buses will be disrupted and there is no tram running in Nice. As with any strike that affects the operation of public transport, on-street parking will be free in Nice.

Nice Carnival securityAs some residents in Nice may be questioning the presence of a helicopter flying over the city on a daily basis at the moment. It’s been confirmed by the Prefect that it’s part of the police’s aerial surveillance during this year’s Carnival which is currently taking place in the city.

Ikea - It’s been announced that a new Ikea store will be opening in the centre of Nice this summer. The head of Ikea in France said that the 300 square metre shop will be on the rue Paul-Déroulède, near the avenue Jean-Médecin. A much bigger store, covering about 24,000 square metres, is currently under construction in the plaine du Var and is due to open next year.

Warmest winter - According to figures from Meteo France, the Var and the Alpes Maritimes have experienced their warmest winter since 1958. On average, temperatures were 2.5 degrees above normal in the Var and 2.6 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes during the December to February period, but many extreme temperatures were recorded. For example, on the 3rd of February Fréjus registered 26.4 degrees and Seillans recorded 27 degrees.

New car part - A new car park has opened on the outskirts of Antibes with the aim of encouraging people to leave their cars and cycle, take public transport or car-pool. The car park, on the road from Antibes to Grasse, has 50 spaces where you can park for up to 24 hours free of charge. Bus stops are nearby and there are secure bike boxes. Future plans include the installation of electric vehicle charging points and integration with the soon the be completed tram network.

Coronavirus - A third aircraft is being sent to China to repatriate French citizens because of the coronavirus outbreak. A holiday centre in the Bouche du Rhone was used to quarantine returnees on the first repatriation flight. They were able to leave the centre last week. Some of the returnees on a second flight were also confined to the same holiday centre in Carry-le-Rouet while others were housed in a fire department training school in Aix-en-Provence. The location where the new returnees will be confined hasn’t yet been made public.

National

Trial of former presidential candidate François Fillon - French media has this morining reported that the National Assembly, plans to demand more than one million euros in damages at the trial of former presidential candidate of 2017 François Fillon. Fillon is to appear before the Paris Criminal Court from Monday February 24th, and until March 11, with his wife, Penelope Fillon, and his former deputy to the Assembly, Marc Joulaud, for embezzlement of public money, in connection with the allegedly fictitious employment of his wife.

Meanwhile in French politics the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has attempted to calm a situation which erupted on Wednesday, saying he “regretted” comments which he made about the private life of the secretary of the Socialist Party Olivier Faure.

Olivier Faure has denounced a "serious fault" and called on the head of state to intervene.

Finally, in politics a poll published on Wednesday has shown that Rachida Dati the Républicains candidate currently running for mayor in the local elections comes out on top ahead of current mayor and socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo. Rachida Dati is credited with 25% of voting intentions while the former health minister Agnés Buzyn for the Républiqueen Marche comes third.

Airbus - It's been announced in a press release published on Wednesday that Airbus Defence and Space industries are planning to lay of over 2300 people. The company says it ran on a loss for three years in a row, blaming the low demand from the space- and defence markets.

A total of 2,362 positions will be cut, 829 in Germany, 357 in the UK, 630 in Spain, 404 in France and 142 in other countries.

The Defence and Space division accounts for 15 percent of the group's revenue. It posted operating losses of 881 million euros in 2019.

New egg freezing technique - Fertility specialists at Antoine Béclère University hospital near Paris have announced that a woman, who was left infertile by cancer treatment has given birth to a healthy baby boy.

The unnamed woman gave birth after her immature eggs were collected, matured in a lab and frozen for use five years later.

The baby named Jules, is the first baby to be born through the new procedure.

Carlos Ghosn - French investigators have announced that they are stepping up their investigation into the two parties which were thrown by former head of Nissan Renault Carlos Ghosn at the Palace of Versailles, including his lavish 2016 wedding.

The prosecutor's office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, which had been leading the investigation, said it had been handed to an investigating magistrate, which means that Ghosn, who jumped bail in Japan in December, could soon face charges in France.

Sickness ban - Nine mayors in north-west of France are involved in an unusual protest against the lack of healthcare resources. The mayors in the Sarthe department have all signed a decree which bans local residents from falling ill. The decrees say that it’s forbidden to seek medical attention, have an accident or "to be born with health problems" in the area. It is, however, allowed to move to Paris, to "access efficient health services". The decree has no legal force, but the mayors describe it as a "symbolic but strong act" of protest.

Increase in road deaths - There’s been a sharp increase in deaths and injuries on the roads of mainland France in January. There was a 9.7% increase over January last year, with 260 people losing their lives. The figures are in contrast to the historically low figures of road deaths for the whole of 2019. As far as injuries on roads are concerned, there was an increase of 18.4%, with 5,628 people suffering injuries in January.

Choreographer Benjamin Millepied - The husband of actress Natalie Portman choreographer, Benjamin Millepied has denied signing an open letter requesting the reinstatement of a ballet director who was fired for pregnancy discrimination.

The director of the Lyon Opera Ballet was initially fined for the offence before a second ruling ordered him to be fired.

In a post on Twitter Millepied wrote: “I didn’t sign this letter; any suggestion I support discrimination against dancers is false. This is a French legal matter and appropriate process should be respected.”

Business

The Australian airline Qantas has warned of a severe financial impact as the potentially deadly coronavirus dampens demand for travel in Asia.The airline said the outbreak would cost it up to A$150m as it cuts flights to Asia by 15% until at least the end of May adding that to avoid job losses the company also plans to freeze recruitment and ask workers to use up leave.

The European Union’s future budget is to be discussed by EU leaders in Brussels this week. The talks are about the EU's long-term budget or financial framework. It will set out the total spending level and the amount to be spent on particular areas over the next seven years.

The current framework runs to the end of this year, so the new one will cover the period up to 2027.

In the UK you’ll soon no longer find Adam Smith in your wallet as the economist has been replaced as the face of the £20 note by artist JMW Turner.

The Bank of England said the new £20 - which enters circulation today - is its most secure ever banknote.

But don’t panic as you'll still be able to use the old notes for many months to come. The Bank will give six months' notice ahead of its legal tender status being withdrawn.

Sport

Football - Manchester City have beaten West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Premier League champions City have been given a two-year Champions League ban and fined 30m euros by Uefa.

Speaking about the affair following Wednesday night’s game the boss of the club Pep Guardiola has said that he will 100% stay at the club and believes the "truth will prevail".

And it was a tough night for Tottenham on the pitch last night after their defeat losing 1-0 at home to an impressive RB Leipzig in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Formula One - Lewis Hamilton started his 2020 Formula 1 campaign with a powerful statement of intent as he topped the first day of pre-season testing in Spain.

Hamilton and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas shared the driving for Mercedes and ended the day first and second fastest.

Boxing - Deontay Wilder has said he "rehabilitated" Tyson Fury career as they traded jibes at a final news conference for Saturday's WBC world heavyweight title rematch.

The pair faced off at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas and shoved each other, prompting their teams to rush on stage.

Rugby Union – Ahead of the weekends matches Ireland have named an unchanged side for Sunday's Six Nations match against World Cup finalists England at Twickenham.

Scotland centre Huw Jones has been replaced by Chris Harris in one of three changes to the side for their match against Italy on Saturday.

And as Wales prepare to face France former Wales prop Adam Jones says France's scrum in this Six Nations is yet to match their packs of the past.

Weather

Clear skies and sunshine across the region. Temperatures in the Var highs of 17 – 18 degrees on the coast in Saint Tropez and Rayol Canadel, 19 degrees inland in Brignoles with a moderate variable wind this evening going down to 2 degrees with clear skies. In the Alpes Maritimes in Menton, Cannes and Nice highs of 17 degrees with moderate north easterly wind. This evening going down to 4 degrees in Antibes and 8 in Nice with clear skies.  

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