Evening Update Tuesday 18th October 2022

It's been a day of strike action across France, including here on the Riviera. Several of France's main unions called for action. It comes after workers at several refineries and fuel depots extended their strike, defying the government which has started requisitioning workers and legally forcing them to return to work. There's been disruption today to public transport, schools, creches and other public services. Truck drivers delivering food have also taken part. The CGT trade union held a rally outside Nice-Ville station this afternoon. Force Ouvrière had a similar protest outside the Centre Administratif in Nice early this morning, while teachers protested outside the Lycée Pasteur. A poll last night found half of French people disapprove of today's strike action. Seven in 10 respondents said the fuel protest in particular should be stopped.

A woman accused of posing as an estate agent and pocketing tens of thousands of euros in deposits and rent payments has gone on trial in Grasse. Prosecutors claim the 36-year-old concluded rental agreements with several tenants for properties around Théoule-sur-Mer without the owners' approval, between February and May this year. In one case, prosecutors say an elderly couple entrusted the so-called estate agent with renting out their property for short-term stays. It's alleged that the woman instead concluded a year-long rental contract with a family, let them move in, changed the locks and kept their deposit and first month's rent for herself. The tenants had to leave the property after its owners alerted gendarmes. Many of the defendants say they were left homeless, having already terminated the lease on their previous home, and were substantially out of pocket. The accused faces up to five years in jail if found guilty of fraud and breach of trust. The verdict is due next month.

The summer season on the Riviera might have only recently finished - but tourism leaders are already busy planning for 2023, and they're pretty optimistic about the future.
2022 has been described by some in the sector as a "catch-up" year. After two very difficult summers due to the coronavirus crisis, figures have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.
Hotels saw occupancy rates around the 80-90% mark this summer. The Riviera's tourism strategy for next summer is multi-faceted. A key part is attracting French visitors, from elsewhere in the country. Neighbouring and nearby European countries are also an important market. North America and the Middle East are other important targets. There will also be a focus next year on promoting the Riviera way of life, sport and the environment. Another goal for next summer is to try to extend the tourism season for as long as possible - by promoting holidays on the Côte d'Azur earlier in the spring, and later in the autumn. The economic benefits of tourism on the Riviera are estimated at almost €10 billion per year. The Alpes-Maritimes departmental council is providing subsidies in the region of €3.4 million next year to help attract visitors to the area.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a job in a hotel or restaurant next summer, there's 1,000 of them currently up for grabs in Monaco. The Monte-Carlo SBM is holding a jobs fair this afternoon and again tomorrow at the One Monte-Carlo conference centre, from 2pm to 7pm. Recruiters from 20 venues in the principality will be meeting potential recruits.

Hundreds of police officers and magistrates have demonstrated outside courthouses in several cities along the Riviera to protest about proposed reforms to the judicial police. Rallies were held outside the justice palace in Nice, Toulon and Marseille on Monday lunchtime. France's judicial police force is being reorganised by interior minister Gérald Darmanin, bringing various police services together at departmental level, under the supervision of a single director of national police.

The electric scooter hire firm Bird has decided to leave Draguignan, in the Var. Since June last year, 150 Bird scooters have been available in the city. Since last weekend, they are no more. The firm has decided that Draguignan is not a profitable market for the service. Half of the scooters ended up damaged or vandalised. Some were left abandoned in rivers.

Nice's Gare du Sud food market, which had a disastrous launch before finally shutting down in April, has found a new owner which hopes to reopen the venue next spring. The new investors have pledged to give the gourmet food hall a major makeover, with new furniture and better insulation, after many visitors complained the venue was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. The Gare du Sud will still focus on Mediterranean cuisine from a variety of countries. The new version of the project will also include a cooking school and the new owners hope the venue will host a range of concerts, exhibitions and other events throughout the year. Meanwhile, the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has dismissed requests from opposition councillors for a full inquiry to be carried out into what went wrong in the Gare du Sud fiasco. He said various courts had already ruled in the city's favour, including the local administrative court, a court of appeal in Marseille and France's Council of State.

If you've been through Terminal 1 at Nice airport in recent days you might have spotted a vast Boeing 747 parked on the tarmac, making the private jets next to it seem tiny. It's one of two private planes owned by the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa, and it landed at Nice on Saturday. The King of Bahrain is a regular on the Côte d'Azur. His yacht, the Lionheart, is currently moored in the port of Monaco.

Meanwhile, an EasyJet flight from Lille to Nice had to make a detour and land in Paris after it hit several geese which became caught up in the engines. Passengers said they heard unusual noises and felt vibrations from the left engine. The captain told passengers that the aircraft would fly at a low altitude and make an emergency landing at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Everyone disembarked from the plane safely.

It's been a busy day and you've come home to find a goat blocking the access to your apartment block. That’s what happened to residents at La Lézardière residence in Cap d'Ail who came face-to-face with the animal sitting on their doorstep on Saturday. Passers-by stopped to take photos of the goat - an unusual sight in such an urban setting, near the border with Monaco. One resident, returning from the beach, called out gendarmes. The animal was very docile and was clearly domesticated. If no one claims the goat, it'll be released into a protected natural area.

Finally, if you often wonder who would win in a fight between an octopus and a seagull, we now have the answer. A worker at the aquarium on the coast at Saint-Laurent-du-Var has posted a surreal video on Facebook showing an octopus attacking a bird that was hovering just above the water surface. The young octopus used a tentacle to suddenly grab the feet of the seagull. After being held in a tight grip for some time, the gull eventually managed to break free and retreat to safety on the beach. The employee who filmed the incident tried to intervene to break up the fight, but the octopus bit him, his foot swelled massively and he had to take antibiotics. The stand-off happened at Les Flots Bleus, an enclosed aquarium environment in the sea at Saint-Laurent-du-Var which is protected for the development of marine life and helps schoolchildren learn about marine biodiversity.

BUSINESS

Analysts in the UK have warned that Jeremy Hunt faces "scary" decisions on spending after undoing swathes of his predecessor's tax cuts. The new chancellor reversed £32bn of cuts from the mini-budget to try to balance the government's books but must find billions more in savings. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an economics think tank, said deep spending cuts were inevitable. The Resolution Foundation, which focuses on those on low incomes, said the "toughest choices" lie ahead. Mr Hunt's strategy, which includes keeping income tax at current levels, comes after economists warned the government faced a £60bn black hole in the public finances following last month's mini-budget.

The head of Britain's electricity and gas systems' operator has told households to prepare for blackouts between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays during "really, really cold" days in January and February if gas imports are reduced. John Pettigrew, the head of the National Grid in the UK, said blackouts would have to be imposed during the "deepest darkest evenings" in January and February if electricity generators did not have enough gas to meet demand, especially if there is a period of cold weather. His comments were made at the Financial Times's Energy Transition Summit on Monday. Due to Russia's war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian gas imports, many European countries are facing gas shortages. A large amount of electricity is generated from gas, putting strain on national electricity supplies as demand increases in the face of cold weather.

SPORT

Cricket - Pat Cummins has been appointed as Australia's 27th men's one-day international captain. The fast bowler - already Australia's Test captain - replaces previous ODI skipper Aaron Finch, who retired from the format last month. Finch remains captain of Australia's Twenty20 side, while Cummins will lead the international team in next year's 50-over World Cup in India. The move ends speculation David Warner could be appointed to the role. Cricket Australia (CA) proposed a change to its integrity code last week which, if passed, could see Warner's lifetime leadership ban lifted. The 35-year-old was banned from elite cricket for 12 months and from leadership positions for life by the governing body in 2018 for his part in the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

Rugby Union - The Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby will be hauled in front of a parliamentary inquiry to address “serious concerns about the future of the sport” after the entire Wasps squad lost their jobs when the club entered administration on Monday. Both organisations will be grilled by the digital, culture, media and sport select committee of MPs next month after Wasps followed Worcester into administration. They are also expected to be relegated by the RFU. Members of the Wasps squad were left in tears as they were informed of their fate at a meeting before the bleak announcement that 167 people – including all players and coaches from the men’s, women’s and netball team – had been made redundant.

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