French and Riviera News Friday 20th August 2021


Situation in the Var remains “very unstable” - The prefect of the Var has said that the situation in the region remains “very unstable”. After covering more than 8,000 hectares, the fire that is ravaging the hinterland of Saint-Tropez, in the Var, is not yet under control, as weather conditions risk complicating the situation at least until Sunday.

More than 72 hours after it started, the fire continues to progress in the Var, in spite of some temporary lulls. The prefecture has warned that “until the end of the weekend, the weather will remain unfavorable” and has asked for “everyone to be very careful”.

As a result of the bad forecasts, the prefecture has chosen to classify all the forest areas of the department as "very severe" fire risk. Today Friday 20th August, the firefighters will work "hard" to drown the remaining edges of fire. A race against time before "a change of wind" expected this afternoon, and the mistral forecast for Sunday.

Meanwhile police have launched a call for witnesses to find out more about the circumstances of the fire which started at a motorway rest area in Gonfaron.

The fire has claimed two lives and seven fire-fighters, and 22 other people have been slightly injured.

In other news

Covid - The latest figures from Public Health France show that while the number of intensive care patients with covid is still above 2,000 in France, the number of new infections is down; with 23,973 new covid cases reported in the last  24 hours, compared to 28,554 a week ago.

Health pass to be extended from Monday in Monaco - The compulsory health pass in Monaco is to be extended from Monday 23rd August, the obligation to present a health pass to enter restaurants and bars will be extended to Monegasques, residents and employees of the Principality aged over 18. This decision was announced on July 27th, to allow those who wish to complete their vaccination course to do so.  Given the lower risk of contamination outdoors, the health pass will not be required for Monegasques, residents and employees wishing to sit on the fully open terrace of a restaurant or bar. In addition, an extra month has been granted to younger people: Monegasques, residents or schoolchildren in the Principality aged 16 and 17 will not be required to present a health pass to access restaurants and bars between now and September 23rd. The Government of Monaco recalls that vaccination is the most effective way to protect oneself and others and strongly recommends everyone to be vaccinated. Vaccination helps to limit the spread of the virus and its most serious effects. It is free of charge and accessible to Monegasques and residents over 12 years of age, as well as to all employees of the Principality. Furthermore, the Government also reminds everyone of the need to respect the barrier measures and in particular the need to wear a mask.

Anti-health pass group force entry into Carrefour - A group of people against the health pass have tried to enter the Carrefour Nice-TNL supermarket in Nice. On Thursday afternoon about twenty people rallied in front of the store; After having succeeded in forcing their way in they were soon removed from the premises by the police.

Meanwhile, the extension of the Pass Sanitaire has led to a 40% rise in Covid tests across France. Almost 6 million tests were conducted last week, compared to 4 million the week before. The increase was particularly strong among 25-40 year olds. From mid-October this year, Covid tests will cease to be free, unless prescribed by a doctor.

Netflix - Netflix has increased its rates in France by one to two euros per month. The increase is effective immediately for new subscribers and applicable to current subscribers depending on the type of subscription.

The basic offer of Netflix known as "essential" now costs 8.99 euros per month compared to 7.99 euros. The "standard", which gives access to two screens simultaneously in HD quality, goes from 11.99 to 13.99. And the "premium" subscription, for four simultaneous screens and programs in 4K, increases to 17.99 euros from 15.99.

Netflix counts more than 200 million paying subscribers worldwide. The company said that the increase reflects the platform's current and future investments in original films, series and documentaries.

Busy weekend on the roads in France – It’s going to be another busy weekend on the roads in France as holidaymakers head home with traffic being very difficult on Saturday in the Auvergne Rhone Alpes and the Mediterranean. The rest of the weekend is classified orange or ‘difficult’ with Bison Futé advising motorists to avoid the A7, A9 and A10 motorways.

Meanwhile according to the latest figures for road safety in France published on Thursday, the number of people killed on the roads in July fell by 5% compared to July 2019. There were 313 deaths in 2020 however fatal road accidents were on the rise for the month of July this year compared to 2020, mainly due to the effects of the health crisis, and this year saw more accidents amongst the under-18s.


According to a report in the Wall Street Jounal, Amazon is planning to open large department stores in the US as it expands further into physical retailThe stores will be about 30,000 sq ft in size and will offer products from well-known consumer brands. The first sites are expected to open in California and Ohio. Amazon opened its first physical store outside the US in March 2021, selling prepared meals, some groceries, and Amazon devices at its new site in Ealing, London.

According to new research in the UK from consumer group Which? Homebase, Carphone Warehouse and Sports Direct have some of the worst online customer service of all retailers in the UK. As online shopping has boomed in popularity over the past 17 months, so too have the customer service complaints. In the survey Sports Direct, The Range, Carphone Warehouse, Debenhams, Homebase and JD Sports were the lowest ranked companies, receiving the same one star out of five for overall customer service. All of the companies ranked poorly on the helpfulness of their support staff and were criticised by customers for making it difficult to raise a complaint.


Football – Tottenham’s boss Nuno Espirito Santo has said that the club's "feelgood factor disappeared" as they were beaten 1-0 by Pacos de Ferreira in the Europa Conference League play-off first leg.

In the Premier League this weekend; It kicks off tomorrow as Liverpool play Burnley in the lunchtime fixture (kick off at 4pm French time). In the afternoon Aston Villa play Newcastle United, Crystal Palace face Brentford, Leeds host Everton, Manchester City are at home to Norwich and Brighton play Watford.

On Sunday Southampton play Manchester United, Wolverhampton play Tottenham and Arsenal play Chelsea. There is one game on Monday evening West Ham play Leicester.

Meanwhile Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool fans to put an end to homophobic chanting, telling them: "I don't want to hear it anymore." Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour, on loan at Norwich, was targeted with chants of 'Chelsea rent boy' by some fans during Liverpool's 3-0 win against Norwich last weekend.

Golf – Scottish amateur Louise Duncan is one shot off the lead on her Women's Open debut after a splendid opening round in scoreable conditions at Carnoustie. Duncan, 21, said she was "shaking like a leaf" on the first tee, but put the nerves behind her for a four-under 68. England's Georgia Hall was also denied a share of the lead after her excellent round ended with a bogey on the last.


Sunny with clear skies highs of 28 degrees in Nice, Cannes and Antibes. Highs of 27 degrees in Saint Tropez with a moderate wind expected by this afternoon. This evening going down to 20 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes and 17 degrees in the Var with clear skies.

The outlook for the weekend - Highs of 28 degrees along the coast with clear skies and 31 degrees inland with some cloudy patches.

And Finally 

A new study now suggests that key mental abilities including concentration and attention may actually get better with age. These key brain functions underpin critical cognitive aspects such as memory, self-control and decision making, and even navigation, math, language and reading. 

The research team looked at three aspects of attention and cognitive control in a group of 702 participants aged 58 to 98. They focused on these ages because this is when cognition often changes the most during aging. The aspects they studied are the brain networks involved in alerting, orienting, and executive inhibition. Each has different characteristics and relies on different brain areas and different neurochemicals and genes. 

The study found that only alerting abilities declined with age, while orienting and executive inhibition actually improved.

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