Evening Update Monday 18th March 2024

Police in Nice are reinforcing their patrols of the Cimiez district after a spate of vandalism and arson attacks. In the latest incident, yesterday, two scooters were set on fire. Other vehicles and properties have been targeted in recent weeks. National and municipal police have stepped up their surveillance of the lower neighbourhoods of Cimiez and an investigation is under way to try to track down who is responsible.

A popular restaurant in Ramatuelle in the Var, close to Pampelonne beach, has been destroyed by fire. Firefighters were called out to the Kikouiou restaurant, on the Route de Bonne Terrasse, yesterday afternoon. The fire spread to the restaurant's terrace, causing a gas tank to explode, but was brought under control before it could spread to nearby vegetation. Kikouiou had been open since 1991 and management had been looking forward to reopening for the summer season at the end of March.

Meanwhile, firefighters were called out to a fire at a chalet in Lucéram on Sunday morning. The building's two occupants were able to get out unharmed. The fire was brought under control before it could spread to an adjoining garage.

Four people were taken to hospital after a crash involving three cars between Cuers and Rocbaron in the Var on Saturday afternoon. The road was temporarily closed. Three women and a man are being treated for injuries. 20 firefighters attended the scene to help the victims and secure the site.

OGC Nice football fans say they came under attack from local supporters during an away trip to Lens on Saturday. About 30 Lens supporters threw projectiles at the coaches bringing OGC Nice supporters to the match, smashing some of the vehicles' windows. Nice supporters who'd made the journey to Lens by car also had their vehicles damaged in the stadium's visitor car park. No one was injured. Three Lens fans were arrested.

The SNCF and the Paca region have set out some of the major improvement works they're due to make to the local rail network this year. As part of a nationwide investment programme into rail travel, the Paca region will be spending €350 million on about 50 renovation projects. Among them, later this year, there will be major overnight engineering works to upgrade the power lines between Nice and Menton, at a cost of almost €10 million. Another €78 million is being spent on improvements to the line from Nice to Breil-sur-Roya, which will be closed from this September until the end of 2025, with replacement buses instead. During one long bank holiday weekend this November, only three in 10 TGVs will run between Nice and Paris, and at a reduced speed. Those works are for the implementation of what's called the European Rail Traffic Management System, which will eventually increase capacity on the mainline while making train travel safer. Meanwhile, some of the region's 150 rail stations, including Villefranche, Menton and Cagnes-sur-Mer, will be modernised to make them more accessible.

The road from Menton to Sospel is expected to reopen at the end of next week, after it was cut off by a landslide last Wednesday. The Alpes-Maritimes departmental council says work is under way to clear the debris and secure the rockface. Next week it will install temporary traffic lights on the RD2566, otherwise known as the Route de Monti, allowing traffic to pass in one direction at a time. Until then, a diversion is in place via Castellar. A complete reopening of the road to Sospel isn't likely for another three weeks at least.

And if you live in or have visited Beausoleil, you'll know it's a town that's serious about public staircases. The town, bordering Monaco, has 66 flights of stairs - and every year athletes race to see who can get from the bottom of Beausoleil to the top in the fastest time. The course is made up of five steep staircases over a distance of 350 metres. There are 427 steps in total - that's a climb of 70 metres, the equivalent of a 27-storey building. The next edition of the Beausoleil stair race takes place this coming Saturday from 10am on the Boulevard de la République and is open to all. There'll be an individual race and a relay for those wanting to share the challenge with others. You need to register in advance on sport-up.fr. Last year, the men's race was won in just 1 minute 27 seconds - one second short of beating the all-time record.

BUSINESS

New official data shows that property investment in China fell 9.0% year-on-year in the first two months of 2024. The drop is actually an improvement on the end of last year; real estate investment in China fell by 24.0% in December 2023. Meanwhile, China’s National Bureau of Statistics has reported that industrial output rose 7% from a year earlier in January-February, beating forecasts. Fixed-asset investment, or spending on factories and equipment, was up 4.2% year-on-year, while retail sales grew 5.5%.

British prime minister Rishi Sunak is promising to create up to 20,000 more apprenticeships as part of a series of reforms to support small businesses. Sunak is expected to announce £60m of new government funding, to pay the full cost of apprenticeships for people aged 21 or under at small firms from 1 April. The government is also pledging to cut red tape for small businesses.

SPORT

Cycling - Dame Laura Kenny, Britain's most successful female Olympian, has announced her retirement from cycling. The 31-year-old won five Olympic golds and seven World Championship titles in a distinguished career on the track. She gave birth to her second child in July and had previously been targeting a fourth Olympics in Paris this year. Earlier in March, British Cycling performance director Stephen Park said Kenny had only a "slim chance" of competing in Paris.

Football - Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president, has called for action after Trabzonspor supporters invaded the pitch and clashed with Fenerbahce players on Sunday night. Fenerbahce were celebrating their 3-2 win - secured thanks to an 87th-minute goal - on the pitch when home supporters charged towards the visiting players. Images showed one of the fans entering the pitch and appearing to attempt to use the corner flag as a weapon. Security staff eventually helped Fenerbahce players down the tunnel and into their dressing room. Infantino described the violence as "absolutely unacceptable" and called on the "relevant authorities" to ensure action is taken.

In local football, OGC Nice move up a place to fifth in the Ligue 1 after securing a 3-1 away win at Lens. AS Monaco remain third in the table with a 2-2 draw against Lorient at the Stade Louis II.

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