Evening Update Wednesday 18th January 2023

Tomorrow's the big day of strike disruption in France, with widespread disruption to schools and public transport in the nationwide protest against pension reforms. We're expecting an impact on trains, local buses and trams, but also possibly some flights. On the SNCF, only one in three TGVs is expected to run along the Riviera. Across France, no Intercités services are operating. Locally, there'll be considerable disruption to TER services. The strike is affecting local trains from 7pm tonight until 8am on Friday morning. It’s forecast that just 1 in 10 TER trains will be operating. You can see which trains are running using the online journey planner at ter.sncf.com. In Nice, no trams will be running and several dozen bus lines will also have no service. Street parking in the city will be free on Thursday. The entire Envibus public transport network around Antibes and Sophia-Antipolis will not be running tomorrow. As for planes, the French civil aviation authority has asked airlines to pre-emptively cancel a fifth of their flights into and out of Paris, to ease the pressure on air-traffic controllers. That could well have a knock-on effect on some flights here in Nice. Check with your airline before you travel.

Parts of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice were closed to pedestrians and cyclists today because of the strong sea swell. Pedestrian access to the seafront between Cagnes-sur-Mer and Villeneuve-Loubet was also banned. The Liautaud tunnel in the centre of Nice had to be partially closed due to flooding. The Alpes-Maritimes was placed on a yellow alert due to high sea levels, while the alert for the Var has been lifted.

1,000 pupils were evacuated from their secondary school in Nice this morning due to a suspected gas leak. About 20 firefighters were called out to the Lycée Guillaume-Apollinaire at 9am. Gas technicians were also on the scene this morning to try to locate the leak. 

If you know anyone looking for a job, five-and-a-half thousand of them are currently up for grabs in the Alpes-Maritimes. Local branches of Pôle Emploi are organising a series of jobs fairs and 'job dating' events in the coming weeks. The usual sectors are affected - mainly hotels and catering. But according to Pôle Emploi there's also a good number of vacancies in the tech industry, mostly around Sophia-Antipolis. A digital jobs fair is being organised in Antibes next Thursday.

France's annual census begins tomorrow and runs for a month. Across the Paca region, 277 communes are being counted this year. Towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants take part in a rolling annual census, with a different sample of residents taking part each year. But, in towns and villages with less than 10,000 people, the census applies to everyone - just less often. About 1,600 census officers will be knocking on doors and dropping letters with a link to the online questionnaire, if you're in one of the affected communes. Questions include how many people are in your household, their ages and professions, what commodities your house has, and some questions about your day-to-day life such as how you travel around. To find out if your commune is included this year, and for various questions and answers about how it all works, there's an official website: www.le-recensement-et-moi.fr

French president Emmanuel Macron is due to visit Marseille next month to see the results of a major project to bring improvements to France's second-biggest city. The plan, called Marseille en Grand, was drawn up in 2021 and focused on Marseille's poorer neighbourhoods in the north of the city, including renovations for dilapidated schools and better public transport. Fifteen projects have since been launched, including an extension of the tram network. Marseille's mayor said the French president would make a lengthy visit to the city in the coming weeks.

Nice is experimenting with a new device that aims to prevent bicycles and scooters riding along the tram tracks. A new coating is being applied to the tracks on line 1 this week. The aim is to improve safety and avoid delays to trams.

A secondary school near Saint-Tropez has reignited the discussion about whether schoolchildren should wear a uniform. The lycée in Gassin, in the Var, is considering imposing a standard outfit - and it's put the idea out to consultation among pupils, parents and staff. It's even asked senior students to design the uniform themselves, which if approved, would be made by a local producer. The school's headteacher says he's been considering the idea for a few years - and he says the shared identity could reinforce the school's sense of community, like a football team. If the experiment goes ahead, it would be for one or two days per week.

A dolphin was spotted alongside the yachts moored in Monaco Yacht Club yesterday lunchtime. A similar sighting was reported in Nice on Saturday morning, near Opéra Plage. It's not the first time a dolphin has been found in Monaco - there were repeated sightings around the port last August.

Two burglars caught in the act in Antibes tried to bribe police officers with cash to avoid being arrested. The pair were trying to break into a safe at a villa on the Chemin des Sables when the property's owner was alerted to their presence on CCTV and contacted the police. On arrival, police came face-to-face with the burglars, who offered them €50,000 if they turned a blind eye. The burglars, aged 26 and 28, are now in pre-trial detention.

And Europe's oldest woman has died in a nursing home in Toulon, at the age of just 118. Lucile Randon was born in 1904 in Alès, in the Gard. She grew up in a Protestant family and converted to Catholicism in her late teens. She joined a Catholic order near the end of the second world war, and worked in Vichy hospital, looking after children, including orphans, and the elderly. Known as Soeur André, she enjoyed a lengthy career as a governess, teacher and missionary. The Var had been her home since 2009. She's believed to be the world's oldest survivor of Covid-19, after recovering from the virus in her retirement home just before her 117th birthday.

BUSINESS

Microsoft is preparing to axe thousands of jobs in the latest move by one of the world's biggest technology companies to reduce its workforce in the face of a slowing global economy. The US software giant could announce plans to cull a significant number of posts around the world within a matter of days. Microsoft, which employs more than 220,000 people, is said to be contemplating cutting roughly 5% of its workforce, which if accurate would equate to approximately 11,000 jobs. The company, which has placed huge bets on the growth of cloud computing and now has a market value of $1.78tn, is due to report second-quarter earnings next week.

Price rises in the UK slowed for a second month in a row but the cost of food including milk, cheese and eggs kept inflation at a 40-year high. Inflation, which measures the rate of price rises, fell to 10.5% in the year to December from 10.7% in November. Petrol and diesel costs eased last month but food prices continued to soar, reaching the highest since 1977. Restaurants and hotel prices also jumped in December along with a record rise in air fares. Millions of people are struggling with the cost of living which has been rising steadily as Covid restrictions eased and Russia launched its assault on Ukraine. Food prices rose 16.8% in the year to December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

SPORT

Tennis - Rafael Nadal's Australian Open title defence is over after a second-round defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald in which he struggled with an injury. The Spaniard was trailing by a set and a break when he pulled up with what appeared to be a hip problem. He took a medical timeout towards the end of the second set and continued with the match, but ultimately slipped to a 6-4 6-3 7-5 defeat. It is Nadal's earliest exit at the Australian Open since 2016. It was a cruel end for Nadal after his stunning 2022, where he came back from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in last year's final in Melbourne and won a record-extending 14th French Open crown in June.

Greek sixth seed Maria Sakkari avoided a shock as she fought back to beat Russian teenager Diana Shnaider in the Australian Open second round. Shnaider, 18, is still to join the professional ranks as she plays in the American college system, but threatened an upset by winning the first set. But Sakkari regrouped to win 3-6 7-5 6-3, taking her third match point. Polish top seed Iga Swiatek and American third seed Jessica Pegula had fewer problems in straight-set wins. Swiatek beat Colombia's Camila Osario 6-2 6-3, while Pegula was a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) winner against Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Football - Iceland women's football captain Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir says winning a claim against former side Lyon for failing to pay her full salary during pregnancy is a "wake-up call" for clubs. A Fifa tribunal ordered French side Lyon to pay unpaid salaries of more than 82,000 euros. Player's union Fifpro called it a "landmark" case. Writing in the Player's Tribune, the midfielder, who is now at Juventus, said the legal win "felt like a guarantee of financial security for all players who want to have a child during their career". Gunnarsdottir joined Lyon in 2020 and won two Champions League titles at the club before leaving for Juventus in July last year.
 

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