Evening Update Tuesday 21 February 2023

The weather is making headlines today as Meteo France reports it has been a full month since any significant rain fell on mainland France. Less one millimetre a day of rainfall has been recorded over the entire country since 21 January, the driest winter spell since 1989. The weather is already raising concerns about water reserves that are still depleted since last year’s severe drought. Last week in the Var, over 90 mayors sought to declare their towns official drought zones.

A 26-year-old man from the Var has been stopped by customs after fleeing a control at the motorway pay toll in La Turbie. The motorist, who was already known to authorities, pretended to comply before speeding off at 180 km/h on the A8 autoroute. He made it as far as Antibes where he was found to be in possession of twenty cartons of contraband cigarettes. The man's actions have been condemned by authorities, who said that such dangerous driving endangers the lives of other motorists and also customs officials. The incident is a reminder of the ongoing battle against cigarette smuggling in the Alpes Maritimes, which has been a long-standing issue. It is not yet clear what charges the 26-year-old man will face.

Air France has announced it will operate three special flights to connect Hollywood to the Cannes Film Festival in May. As the official partner of the event, the French flag carrier will offer a direct flight service between Los Angeles and Nice using the airline's flagship aircraft, the Airbus A350. In addition to offering special flights, Air France will showcase a wide selection of French films and award-winning movies from previous editions of the festival as part of its in-flight entertainment.

Actor Pierre Palmade, who has gripped headlines in France for causing a serious road accident while driving under the influence of cocaine, has now been accused of holding child pornography. Following the first accusation last week, police searched the actor's home in Paris and seized computer equipment. Today, a second man has come forward in Bordeaux with the same accusation. On February 10th, Palmade made headlines when the car he was driving collided with another, causing serious injury to a six-year-old child, a 38-year-old man and his pregnant sister-in-law who subsequently lost her baby. Elsewhere in France, another driver who tested positive for cocaine during a routine traffic check, while he was already under a suspended sentence for driving under the influence of cannabis, has received a 15-month prison sentence in Puy-en-Velay, southwest of Lyon.  The French Minister of the Interior has called for even tougher sentences for those who drive under the influence of any drug.

Finally, while in other parts of the world, today is known as Pancake Tuesday, in France it’s called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday.  The tradition is similar where the day symbolizes excess and abundance before the start of fasting for Lent. Not only is Mardi Gras synonymous with parties, pancakes and doughnuts but in France it is also a day for disguises, dressing up and parties. This is why the season is known as Carnival!

BUSINESS

Banking giant HSBC says its quarterly profit has almost doubled, boosted by rising interest rates around the world. The London-based firm reported a pre-tax profit of $5.2bn for Q4 last year, which is up more than 90% from the same time a year earlier. However, pre-tax profit for the year as a whole fell by $1.4bn as HSBC absorbs the cost of selling its French retail banking operations.

The Société de Bains de Mer continues to grow in Monaco with a call to fill 900 positions within the company for the coming season. In order to expand the team, they have announced an open recruitment day to be held at the One Monte Carlo all day next Wednesday, March 1st. All are welcome from 9am to 7pm.

SPORT

Football - In the Champions League tonight, Liverpool host Real Madrid hoping to pick up a morale-boosting win at home. The Reds have bounced back after a series of disappointing performances, with two impressive victories over Everton and Newcastle United in the Premier League. However, Real Madrid is coming into the game on the back of 4 wins from their last 5 matches and will be confident of getting a good result at Anfield, especially as in the last six games between the two, the Spaniards remain unbeaten against Liverpool.  Also playing tonight, Frankfurt takes on Napoli. Both games kick off at 9pm.

Tennis - Andy Murray battled back from a set down, and survived three match points, to claim a dramatic tie-break victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego at the Qatar Open in Doha this afternoon. He will now face fourth seed Alexander Zverev who is still recovering after snapping three ligaments during last year's French Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal.

Rugby - Wales has delayed naming its side for its Six Nations clash with England on Saturday. The match remains in doubt with Wales' players threatening to strike in a dispute over pay and contracts. The Wales players have set tomorrow as a deadline to have the issues resolved.

Golf - Thomas Pieters has joined the LIV Golf tour for the 2023 season after he was snubbed by the PGA Tour's Genesis Invitational. The Saudi Arabian-funded breakaway LIV Golf tour kicks off the first of 14 events this year on Friday in Mexico.

Formula 1 - The burnt-out shell of the car that saved the life of Romain Grosjean after his fiery crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, is to go on show with a new Formula 1 exhibition. The 36-year-old Frenchman re-lives the accident in a short film, saying that from his point-of-view in the car, he didn't realise the size of the impact or how violent it was from the outside. The new exhibition will start in Madrid before touring the globe.

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