Evening Update Tuesday 17th January 2023

Meteo France has maintained its orange weather alert for the Var coast because of a high sea swell. Some coastal roads are likely to become submerged by waves and disruption to rail services this evening may also be possible. The risk of flash flooding is particularly high in the west of the Var, along the bays of Bandol and Sanary-sur-Mer. The official advice is to avoid walking by the sea. Meanwhile, in the Alpes-Maritimes, the coastal path around the Cap d'Antibes has been closed until tomorrow morning.

About 600 homes in Antibes old town were left without electricity for a large part of Monday. The power cut happened around 7.30 yesterday morning at properties around Rue Georges Clemenceau. It was due to a malfunction in the under-street high-voltage power network. Pavements had to be dug up to allow for repairs. The exact cause of the breakdown isn't yet clear.

A car driver was taken to hospital this lunchtime after a head-on collision with a bus in the Cap Estel tunnel on the Basse Corniche. An eyewitness says the driver of the 607 bus appeared to have become unwell and lost control of their vehicle. The bus's passengers escaped unharmed.

1,700 pupils at the Lycée Massena in Nice were ordered to leave school this morning due to the presence of a suspect package. The building was evacuated near the start of the school day, and nearby roads closed to traffic, while experts were called in to safely destroy the suspect item.

Thursday's nationwide day of strike action against French pension reforms will have a significant impact on Lignes d'Azur public transport around the Nice area. No trams will be running and several dozen bus lines will also have no service. Lignes d'Azur ticket offices and the Parcazur park-and-ride facilities will also be closed. We should know more about the impact on rail services tomorrow, when the SNCF will publish a revised timetable. Street parking in Nice will be free on Thursday 19th January, due to the demonstrations planned against the pension reform. 

A new daily flight from Nice to Atlanta, Georgia, has been announced for this summer. It'll be operated by Delta Airlines and run from 12 May to 29 September. The daily Atlanta flight will complement Nice Airport's regular flights to New York. The Côte d'Azur regional tourism committee is also hopeful that a Nice to Miami air link can launch soon.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has warned that several planned improvement projects in the area will have to be delayed by a few years due to budgetary constraints.
With soaring inflation, high energy bills and the rising cost of debt, the Nice metropolitan area needs to rebalance its budget plans. The extension of the Nice tram network will go ahead as planned. But upgrades to a number of cultural facilities, including the Nice opera house and several museums, will be pushed back from 2025 to 2027 as they’re considered not a priority. Estrosi said these works would be accelerated again if Nice wins its bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2028.

The City of Nice says it will appeal after a court ruled that it had breached the French priniciple of secularism. The case dates back to 2018 when the mayor of Nice allowed the Alpes-Maritimes Union of Muslims to celebrate the end of Ramadan in a municipal theatre. The legal claim had been brought by the leader of the far-right opposition in Nice city council. His argument was that allowing the Eid celebration to be held on municipal property, free of charge, went against the values of the French republic. An appeals court in Marseille yesterday found in his favour. But Nice says it will now take the case to France's highest appeals court, the Cour de Cassation, to try to have the ruling overturned.

The president of the Monte-Carlo SBM has announced to staff that he'll step down next week. Jean-Luc Biamonti had served as director of the SBM since 1985, and became chairman of the board of directors 10 years later in 1995. Among the major projects he's overseen include renovations to the Hôtel de Paris, Sporting d'Hiver and Casino Square. He also steered the company through an important restructuring due to the pandemic, which saw more than 200 voluntary redundancies. The SBM is recovering from the coronavirus crisis, with turnover in the past six months up 40% on the same time a year ago. The company is hopeful it's on track to match, or beat, the record financial results seen in 2007.

And tucked among the 400 pages of revelations in Prince Harry's new memoir you'll find a few lines about Harry and Meghan's time on the Riviera. The Duke of Sussex recalls a holiday in summer 2019 staying at Sir Elton John's villa in Nice. The couple had been invited by Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish for a few days' break to get away from the British press, just two months after the birth of their son Archie. "We spent a few days basking in the sun on their terrace," writes Harry, who borrowed a scooter from Sir Elton and enjoyed a ride with Meghan along scenic coastal roads.

BUSINESS

Wages in the UK have grown at the fastest rate in more than 20 years, but are still failing to keep up with rising prices. Regular pay, which excludes bonuses, rose at an annual pace of 6.4% between September and November, official figures show. It marks the fastest growth since 2001, excluding the pandemic, when people got big rises after returning to work from furlough. However, when adjusted for rising prices, wages fell by 2.6%. The cost of living is currently rising at its fastest rate in almost 40 years, largely due to the war in Ukraine. Energy and food prices have shot upwards, leaving many people struggling to pay their bills. Inflation, the rate at which prices rise, is currently at 10.7%.

Tesla has cut the price of some of its most popular electric cars by thousands of pounds in Europe and the US, in a bid to boost customer demand. The firm faces a difficult global economic outlook and increased competition from other carmakers. The price cuts are in the range of 10% to 13% in the UK, but run as high as 20% on some US models. However, thousands of customers bought the best-selling models last year, and some were angry that they had paid more. Tesla had a similar response from customers in China, where it announced price cuts last week. At the weekend disgruntled owners demonstrated outside Tesla distribution centres in Shanghai and other cities, calling for compensation.

SPORT

Tennis - Britain's Andy Murray produced one of his best performances in recent years to hold off Italian 13th seed Matteo Berrettini and win a five-set thriller in the Australian Open first round. The 35-year-old Scot looked stunned after completing a 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-6) win. Murray, who thought hip surgery in 2019 would end his career, saved a match point at 5-4 in the decider. It was Murray's first victory over a top-20 opponent at a Grand Slam since 2017.

Football - Arsenal will look to sign Declan Rice in the summer and are optimistic about beating rivals, Chelsea chief among them, to the West Ham and England midfielder’s signature.
Rice is Mikel Arteta’s top target and could become Arsenal’s record signing, beating the £72m paid for Nicolas Pépé, if a deal goes through. The player is understood to be open to the potential move. Arteta has been keen to bolster his midfield options for the long term and the West Ham captain, at 24 with a wealth of domestic and international experience, would be ideal.

Cycling - The former chief doctor of Team Sky and British Cycling, Richard Freeman, has failed in a high court appeal against being struck off and now faces a UK Anti-Doping investigation.
Freeman was removed from the medical register in 2021 after being found guilty of ordering 30 sachets of banned testosterone to the National Cycling Centre, “knowing or believing” it was for an unnamed rider to improve their performance. He had appealed against the decision, arguing that a medical tribunal had been wrong to find his former colleague Shane Sutton a “credible and consistent witness” after he had stormed out of the original hearing
 

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