Evening Update Monday 27th March 2023

Ahead of tomorrow’s nationwide day of strike action, protestors against France's pension reforms blockaded the access to Nice Saint-Isidore business park early this morning, preventing vehicles entering or leaving. The sudden action was called by about 100 activists from the CGT and Sud Rail trade unions. The blockade had an impact on about 40 businesses that have warehouses in the Saint-Isidore business park, which is one of the biggest logistics hubs on the Riviera. Meanwhile, police and CRS riot officers were brought in to forcefully remove protestors at the Bandol motorway tolls on the A50 in the Var. The demonstrators had lifted the toll barriers on Sunday afternoon, making it free for motorists to pass.

Meanwhile, somewhere between 450 and 1,500 people demonstrated in Nice on Saturday against France's pension reforms. Saturday's protest, around the Albert Ier gardens in the centre of Nice, coincided with the planned inauguration of a garden festival by local MP and Les Republicains leader Eric Ciotti. Due to the turnout of protestors, the launch event was called off.

In related news, two petrol stations in the Alpes-Maritimes have been requisitioned by the préfecture and reserved exclusively for priority vehicles, as fuel supply problems continue. The Total at Parc Impérial in Nice, and the Total on Boulevard du Riou in Cannes, can now only be used by emergency vehicles, medical professionals, post and electricity vans, funeral vehicles and taxis. In the Var, five petrol stations had already been requisitioned - and in the Bouches-du-Rhône, where fuel supplies are particularly tense, with almost half of petrol stations out of at least one type of fuel, 12 stations have been reserved for priority vehicles. In the Alpes-Maritimes today, 18 petrol stations have run dry and another 14 are partially out of stock. Throughout the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, sales of petrol remain capped at 30 litres per person - and 120 litres for heavy goods vehicles.

In other local news, in the Bouches-du-Rhône, a 15-year-old girl has died while travelling as a passenger in a voiture sans pérmis - a small electric car that doesn't require a driving licence. The girl and two friends were driving through the town of Saint-Victoret when the driver lost control of the vehicle, flipping it onto its roof. According to investigators, no other vehicle was involved in the accident. It's reported that the victim was leaning out of the car window at the time of the crash.

Meanwhile, a motorcyclist has died after an accident on the A8 during Friday evening's rush hour. The incident happened in the Coupière tunnel, near Menton, on the eastbound side of the motorway. Paramedics were quick to the scene and tried to resuscitate the 40-year-old man without success. Seven people in other vehicles were involved in the accident, but were unharmed.

A man in his twenties is recovering in hospital after being stabbed outside Nice-Ville railway station on Friday evening. Paramedics took him to Pasteur II hospital in a critical condition but his condition has since stabilised. Two suspects were arrested and taken into custody.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise again in the Paca region, according to the latest figures from Public Health France. The incidence rate in the region currently stands at 64 confirmed new cases per 100,000 inhabitants - that's up from 54 a week earlier. While it's still a long way from the peaks seen in 2020 and 2021, the increase comes amid a context of significantly lower levels of testing. The rise is particularly prevalent among under-15s and people aged 30-44. Hospitalisations remain very low, thanks to the widespread rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and boosters.

A man has been arrested for stealing from the donations box at Notre-Dame basilica in Nice. A church worker had spotted the man helping himself to the cash on Saturday morning and alerted police. The suspect was arrested about an hour later on the Avenue de la Californie and the money has been returned.

The results are in - and we now know where to find the best baguette in the Alpes-Maritimes. About 30 bakers from all over the department submitted two loaves of bread for judging by a jury at the local artisan baker awards on Friday. Coming first was the Atelier du Pain in Saint-André-de-la-Roche. The top three was completed by two bakeries in Nice: Jean-Marc Bordonnat on Rue Barla, and the Merveilles du Fournil in the Le Ray district. They'll go on to the regional heats next month, with the hope of reaching the national finals in Paris in May.

And dozens of different breeds of dog took part in this Sunday's Animal March through Nice. Cats, rabbits, two llamas and several donkeys also joined the procession along the Promenade des Anglais. It was the second edition of what is planned to become an annual event. Animal-owners of Nice had been invited to join the march from the I Love Nice statue to the Negresco. The event aims to promote animal wellbeing in the city, which has twice been voted the best place in France to own a dog, according to the magazine for pet-lovers, 30 Millions d'Amis.

BUSINESS

The assets and loans of collapsed US lender Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) are being bought by rival First Citizens BancShares. The failure of SVB earlier this month triggered fears about the stability of other lenders, sparking sharp falls in bank shares around the world. In Europe, worries over the strength of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse led to a rushed takeover by rival UBS. Nerves among investors have remained, and bank shares fell sharply on Friday. SVB was seized by US regulators earlier this month after a run on the bank, and its collapse was swiftly followed by the failure of another US bank Signature Bank. The demise of the two were the biggest bank failures in the US since the financial crisis of 2008.

Parts of the source code which underpins multi-billionaire Elon Musk's social media platform have been leaked online, Twitter says. It says the code was posted on GitHub, a Microsoft-owned service where software developers share code. It has now been taken down after Twitter requested its removal. Separately, Mr Musk has reportedly signalled to Twitter workers that the firm is worth less than half the $44bn (£36bn) he paid for it last year.

SPORT

Golf - Rory McIlroy will soon begin his annual quest to win The Masters at Augusta National and become the sixth man in history to complete the career Grand Slam. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen are the players to have achieved that slice of history, with McIlroy tipped to join them ever since - and probably even before - claiming The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in July 2014. That success added to his US Open triumph in 2011 and PGA Championship victory a year later, while he scooped a second PGA crown in August 2014 for his fourth - and most recent - major. Glory at Augusta National has continued to elude McIlroy, though. Seven top-10 finishes, including five in a row between 2014 and 2018, but no trophy as the Grand Slam wait goes on.

Football - Manager Antonio Conte has left Tottenham Hotspur by mutual consent after 16 months in charge. Conte called the Spurs players "selfish" and criticised the club's culture in a remarkable news conference after their recent draw at Southampton. Tottenham are fourth in the top flight but are out of all cup competitions. Conte's assistant Cristian Stellini will step up as head coach for the rest of the season, with former midfielder Ryan Mason his deputy.

Tennis - World number one Carlos Alcaraz cruised into the last 16 of the Miami Open with victory over Dusan Lajovic. The Spanish defending champion, 19, won 6-0 7-6 to set up a meeting with American Tommy Paul. Alcaraz, who has won 16 of 17 matches this year and has not dropped a set in his past two tournaments, needs to win the title to stay top of the rankings. Norwegian third seed Casper Ruud is out after a 3-6 6-4 6-4 defeat by Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp. After a number of upsets on Saturday, there were straightforward wins for men's seeds Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune and Taylor Fritz.

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