Evening Update Wednesday 10 January 2024

Trains are being seriously disrupted in our region because of  strike action for the third consecutive day today. The SNCF said that there had also been "unexpected absences of agents". As on the previous two days, services on the Cote d'Azur and the Roya Valley are being impacted. SNCF apologized for the situation and invited travellers to postpone their journeys as much as possible or to use alternative means of transport. More details on specific trains can be found on https://www.ter.sncf.com/sud-provence-alpes-cote-d-azur/se-deplacer/horaires

New French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal has been meeting existing ministers and potential ministerial appointees as he works on forming a new government. He had dinner with president Macron last night to discuss ministerial responsibilities. Reports in French media say that Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin will be staying in his post after discussing the matter with President Macron.

The vast majority of departments across France are still on Meteo France yellow alerts for cold temperatures and icy conditions today and tomorrow, with several departments on orange alerts. However, Meteo France have said that yesterday was slightly less cold than anticipated. Nevertheless, maximum temperatures were still about 8 to 10 degrees below seasonal norms. No warnings for cold weather are in force in the Var or Alpes-Maritimes at the moment.

The winter sales have been geting underway in the majority of departments across France today, including the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes. The duration of the sales season is set at four weeks meaning that the sales will end  on February 6. The government has warned that if you intend to shop online, to stay vigilant. It said that scams are common during the sales period.

The 35th edition of the annual Pieces Jaunes fund raising operation has started today and runs through until February 4. The charity fundraiser is one of the most well  known in France and aims to support hospitalized children and adolescents. It's chaired by Brigitte Macron and supported by footballer Didier Deschamps. You can collect a piggy bank from local post offices or make a donation online on www.piecesjaunes.fr



UK supermarket operator Sainsburys has reported that festive food sales helped to boost overall sales over Christmas. It said that grocery sales were up 8.6% over the six weeks to 6 January. However, sales at Argos, which is owned by Sainsbury's, fell more than 4%.

UK food retailer Greggs has reported an increase of almost 20% in total sales for its 2023 finacial year compared to 2022. Like for-like sales in company managed shops were 13.7% higher. Better weather and fewer transport strikes than 2022 contributed to the growth. It said that seasonal lines such as the Christmas Lunch Baguette were "in high demand" in the fourth quarter. It expects to open between 140 and 160 net new shops this year. It added that inflationary pressures are reducing.

The vice-president of the European Central Bank has said that the Eurozone may have fallen into recession. Speaking to a gathering in Spain this morning Luis de Guindos said that some indicators had shown that there may have been an economic contraction in December, "confirming the possibility of a technical recession in the second half of 2023". A technical recession is usually defined at two successive quarters of economic contraction. He added that there are "weak prospects for the near term".


Cricket... It's been announced that Steve Smith will replace David Warner as Australia's Test opener for the first Test against West Indies. He will open alongside Usman Khawaja in Adelaide from 17 January. It's the first time Smith has opened in his 16-year first-class career.

Tennis... New rules have been introduced which should prevent matches running after 11pm on both the ATP and WTA Tours. The tours have announced that no more than five matches per day should be scheduled on each court. It's hoped that fewer matches will reduce the chances of a late finish.

Also in tennis news, top seed Elena Rybakina beat Cristina Bucșa to advance to the quarter finals in the Auckland Classic. Cameron Norrie is through to the next round after beating French player Luca Van Assche. Jack Draper survived two match points to beat Miomir Kecmanovic in three sets. Dan Evans is out of the tournament after losing to Alexander Bublik.

Golf.... The chief executive of the R&A Martin Slumbers is to step down at the end of this year. He will still oversee the running of this year's Open Championship at Royal Troon and the AIG Women's Open at St Andrews.

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