Evening Update Tuesday 24th January 2023

Tourism representatives from the Côte d'Azur have flown to the US this week with the hope of drumming up trade ahead of the summer travel season. They'll be meeting tour operators, travel agencies and the press to sell the image of the Côte d'Azur tourism to the lucrative American market. American tourism started to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic last summer - and the Côte d'Azur regional tourism committee is determined to make this summer even better. American tourists on the Riviera generally come from the US's east coast, mainly around New York, around July and August. It's an important market in terms of revenue: the average American tourist on the Riviera spends €1,000 during their stay, which is typically in the region of four to five nights. This summer, three airlines are offering direct flights from America to Nice. Delta's daily flight from New York JFK resumes in late March. La Compagnie will fly five times a week from Newark, starting in mid-April, and United Airlines' daily flight to and from JFK begins again in May.

A family of four in Vence are being treated in hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Firefighters were called out to a property on Chemin Saint Donad at about 11pm last night. On arrival they found two adults and two teenagers unconscious. One of the family members had managed to alert the emergency services and open the front door to their home just in time before passing out. All four of them were taken to Pasteur hospital in Nice. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes an average of 100 deaths each year in France - and can be fatal within minutes of exposure. Symptoms include headaches, nausea and dizziness. It's important to ventilate homes daily, even in cold weather.

Freezing temperatures and heavy rain overnight have caused difficult driving conditions inland in parts of the Var today. Several collisions were reported on roads around Saint-Maximin including on the RD35 where a bus carrying no passengers crashed into another vehicle. Meanwhile, a jack-knifed lorry blocked the N7 in Saint-Maximin.

Meanwhile, the Mercantour's ski resorts are back on avalanche alert.  Météo France has the area classified as high risk - level 4 out of 5 - after 40cm of fresh snow fell at Isola 2000 yesterday.

A new report from the Council of Europe says Monaco's measures against money laundering are inadequate. The study, based on several months of evaluation by anti-money laundering experts, says significant improvements are required in Monaco’s supervisory activities of financial institutions, private banks and real estate agents. It describes the principality as a "prime target" for illicit cross-border financial flows.  The principality is due to enter a one-year observation phase by the international watchdog the Financial Action Task Force, during which time it is expected to fix the deficiencies set out in the report. If it doesn't do so by next year, Monaco risks being put back on the OECD's "grey list" of uncooperative tax havens, alongside the likes of Albania, Barbados, Gibraltar and Panama. Monaco was on the grey list until it was removed in 2009. The Monegasque government said it took note of the report's recommendations and was determined to implement them quickly. Monaco's finance minister said several measures had already been taken to strengthen its systems - with more to follow in the coming months - and there's confidence that the deadline will be met.

Parts of the Riviera are suffering from a severe shortage of paediatricians. This winter's triple whammy of flu, bronchiolitis and Covid means the doctors who are practising in these medical deserts are overwhelmed. Some parents around Menton, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and Beausoleil are facing long waits for a doctor's appointment for their child. For urgent care, La Palmosa hospital has no dedicated paediatric ward - and some parents are having to turn to Princess Grace hospital in Monaco for medical assistance. In Roquebrune, the last two practising paediatricians say they're working 12-hour days and having to turn some children away. The phone rings non-stop from 7.00 every morning. A third paediatrician in the town retired last summer at the age of 69, but he still volunteers some of his time to help clear the backlog. Newly trained paediatricians are in short supply - and many of the students who undergo an internship on the Riviera often go on to set up practice in other cities instead.

Public transport users around Grasse have voiced their complaints about the local bus network, which was taken over by a new operator in the new year. Passengers have taken to social media with a wide range of grievances ranging from buses running late, early, or not at all, taking unusual detours or being overcrowded. An online petition against the changes has attracted more than 300 signatures so far. Spanish firm Moventis won the 10-year contract to provide all the local routes around Grasse and the arrière-pays. Its director says there have been some inevitable teething problems during the change of operator. It says it welcomes feedback on its Facebook page. But the long term goal remains to improve the local public transp