French and Riviera News Friday 22nd December 2023


British teenager lied to protect mother and grandfather - British teenager Alex Batty has revealed he lied about the details of his escape to protect his mother and grandfather from police. Batty said in an interview with The Sun newspaper that he fabricated the story about a four-day journey, hoping it would stop police being able to track his mother and grandfather down, fearing they could be arrested on suspicion of child abduction. He told the Sun "I've been lying to try and protect my mum and grandad, but I realise that they're probably gonna get caught anyway”. "I didn't get lost. I knew exactly where I was going," he added.  Alex was picked up by a delivery driver who spotted him on a road in the foothills of the French Pyrenees, near Toulouse.

Feminist figures criticise President and comments about French actor Depardieu - Feminist figures in France have criticised French President Emmanuel Macron over his defence of the actor Gérard Depardieu. In an interview, President Macron said Depardieu was the target of a "manhunt" and added France's highest honour, the Legion of Honour, should not be withdrawn from him. Depardieu has been accused of sexual assault or harassment by 13 women and was filmed making obscene remarks in a documentary released this month. He denies any wrongdoing. Speaking to French TV on Wednesday, Mr Macron said Depardieu was "a great actor" who "makes France proud".

Searches carried out at Town Hall of Nice - New searches have been carried out at the town hall of Nice. The search took place during a local council meeting on Thursday morning, offices were searched, including the office of the general director of the Nice Côte d'Azur metropolitan services. According to reports the search was linked to an investigation into Storm Alex related to fraud, misuse of corporate assets and forgery. It was back in March of this year, that 17 agents were suspended from construction sites in the Vésubie and La Tinée valleys in connection with the investigation.

Strike - Several unions representing municipal police officers are calling for industrial action on December 24 and December 31. They are protesting at their levels of pay and increased responsibilities. However, the two main unions representing officers are not calling for action as yet, preferring dialogue with the government.

Free public transport in Montpellier - Montpellier has become the latest European metropolis to allow all its residents to ride public transport for free. From Thursday evening, Montpellier residents with a special pass were able to ride trams and buses free of charge.  Visitors and tourists will still have to pay 1.60 euro ($1.70) a trip. The city has said a new transport tax on companies with more than 11 employees will help fund the free transport initiative. Last year city residents accounted for 90% of the 39 million euros in public transport ticket sales.


Eurotunnel has confirmed that a "last-minute strike" by French workers which halted trains during the day on Thursday is over and there will be a progressive return to services. Eurostar said passenger services would restart today Friday 22nd December. The disruption emerged as people travel for Christmas over the next few days. Some 30 Eurostar trains scheduled in London, Paris and Brussels were cancelled on Thursday. Eurotunnel said it had reached an agreement with trade unions and apologised for disruption to LeShuttle.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has signed a deal which he said will make it easier for UK and Swiss financial firms to deal with each other. Trade in financial services between the UK and Switzerland is worth more £3bn. The new deal means that Switzerland and the UK will recognise and accept each other's regulations. The chancellor insisted that the agreement was only made possible by the UK being outside the EU.

And - From January 1st, it will be possible to drive a car from the age of 17 in France. The decree implementing the measure was published in the Official Journal on December 20th and had been announced in June by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne. The change aims to allow young people living in regions poorly served by public transport to travel easily.


Cricket - England have lost the fifth and deciding T20 against West Indies by four wickets in Trinidad suffering a 3-2 series defeat.

The defeat completes a disappointing end to the year for England's white-ball sides after a 2-1 series defeat in the one-day internationals that preceded the T20 leg of the tour, and the group-stage exit of the 50-over World Cup in November.

Football – Plenty of action in the Premier League this weekend. This evening it kicks off with Aston Villa at home to Sheffield United. Tomorrow, West Ham play Manchester United, Fulham are at home to Burnley, Luton play Newcastle, Nottingham Forest fact AFC Bournemouth, Tottenham play Everton and Liverpool will be at home to top of the league Arsenal.

On Christmas Eve Wolves play Chelsea in the lunchtime game and on Boxing Day Newcastle play Nottingham Forest, AFC Bournemouth play Fulham, Sheffield are at home to Luton, Burnley face Liverpool and Manchester United are at home to Aston Villa.

Rugby Union – The English Rugby Football Union has announced plans to revitalise the game in England after admitting they have "failed miserably" when it comes to developing young talent. As part of a landmark new partnership, the Rugby Football Union plans to create a revamped second tier from the 2025-2026 season.


High winds are expected in the Var and Meteo France has issued a yellow alert until midnight tonight. The prefecture said that gusts of up to 120 km per hour are expected in some areas and has called for great vigilance.

Fine and sunny to begin with clouding over by the afternoon. Highs of 15 degrees in Monaco, Nice and Menton. Highs of 14 degrees in Saint-Tropez and Saint-Maxime with strong winds in the Var. This evening going down to 7 degrees along the coast with clear skies.

The outlook for Saturday and Christmas Eve mainly fine highs of 14 degrees. Strong winds in the Var. The forecast for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, fine and sunny on Monday with highs of 14 degrees, Tuesday cloudy to begin with clearing by the afternoon, highs of 14.

Sunrise       08.01am

Sunset        04.56pm

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