French and Riviera News Friday 26th May 2023


French police charge five soldiers following deaths during channel crossing - French police have charged five soldiers over the deaths of 27 people who sank while trying to cross the English Channel on 24 November 2021. They are among nine people detained for questioning and are accused of failing to help the stricken boat. French media reported that some 15 calls from the vessel were ignored. The disaster is the worst of its kind on record. The migrants were mostly Iraqi Kurds, and aged seven to 46.

Kidnapping alert - A kidnapping alert has been triggered by the French government. The alert was issued on Thursday evening May 25th, following the abduction in Fontaine in the Isère region, of 10-year-old Eya, who is believed to have taken by her father, 53-year-old Khaled Sassi.  Police say is he likely to be driving a grey 306 Peugeot with the registration AD-663-TF and wearing a brown beige hoodie and tracksuit bottoms. Police say the young girl was taken on Thursday morning from in front of her school and it is likely that the father will be looking to leave France. At the time Eya was dressed in black trousers with small white flowers on them, a brown jacket with white sleeves, an American football style jacket and black shoes, one of which is missing.

The public is warned to not intervene should anyone locate the child and to immediately call 197 or send an email to

Ferris wheel accident Antibes - A young man is in a serious condition in hospital after suffering a 10-metre fall from the Ferris wheel in Antibes in the early hours of Thursday morning. The man in his 20s was taken to Pasteur 2 hospital at about 2.30am with significant injuries. The wheel was not operating at the time. An investigation has been launched to shed light on what happened.

SNCF investigation - The SNCF has begun an investigation, and police are appealing for witnesses, after the tragic death of a 25-year-old woman last weekend, who fell while clinging on to the outside of a TGV in the Var. Maeva was travelling from Paris to the Riviera when she briefly got off the train at Saint-Raphael station for a breather. She didn't make it back on to the train in time - and in a panic, she jumped on to the outside of one of the carriages as the TGV set off. Her body was found a few kilometres further down the line in the Esterel, thanks to the geolocation on her mobile phone. Investigators are keen to speak to anyone who saw what happened at Saint-Raphael station. The number for Frejus police station is 04 94 51 90 00. Meanwhile, Maeva's parents are desperate to retrieve her suitcase and computer, which she had left onboard the train. They say they've been calling police daily, but the suitcase remains untraceable.

Stop and search checks - With the influx of tourists on the Riviera in recent weeks, police have carried out a major stop-and-search operation targeting mini-cabs and other private hire vehicles around Nice airport. They checked each vehicle's paperwork and insurance status as well as drivers' licences and that their work was declared to the authorities. Police also stopped drivers that they suspected were waiting around busy areas to stand a better chance of picking up their next customer - something which only taxis are legally allowed to do, not private hire vehicles such as Uber cars.

Monaco Grand Prix - The Fan Zone of the 80th Monaco Grand Prix has returned at the Place d’Armes with a host of on-stage interviews, autographs, and selfies. The popular venue with see lots going on today, Saturday and Sunday. Today at 10.30 this morning F2 drivers including Arthur Leclerc, will be taking part in a Q&A. Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas will be there at 10.50am and Daniel Ricciardo, reserve driver for the Red Bull team, will be in the Fan zone at 4.45pm this afternoon. Ahead of the Grand Prix Riviera Radio attended the much-awaited press conference from local favourite, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.  

Historic building - A historic building and botanic garden in the hills above Nice has been put up for sale by the city council. The City of Nice bought the Roseland Abbey for €3 million in 2010 and had initially planned to turn it into an artists' residence and cultural venue. Now it's inviting candidates to come forward by the end of June with an expression of interest to take over the property. Despite its name, Roseland Abbey has never actually been an abbey. It was built by a wealthy family in 1763 as a second home and consists of a 700-square-metre main building, several outbuildings and 8,000 square metres of wooded parkland. Any planned conversion to another use cannot be radically different as it's a classified historical monument and its grounds and gardens are also protected. As well as comparing the price of each offer, the quality of each proposal will also be examined, and the three best candidates will make a final shortlist. The City of Nice is keen to avoid approaches from speculators. Any buyer must pay a penalty if the property is resold again within three years of purchase. It's reported that the Alpes-Maritimes departmental council is a potential candidate, as it's keen to keep the property in public hands.

INSEE study – Finally, the average journey between home and work for rural residents has halved in 20 years. According to a study published by INSEE on Thursday more than half of working people residing in rural areas and working in an urban area have travelled at least 20 kilometers, compared to 5 kilometres for those who remain working in rural areas,

The average journey between home and work for the inhabitants of rural areas in France has increased by half in twenty years, between 1999 and 2019. According to a study published by INSEE on Thursday more than half of working people residing in rural areas and working in an urban area have travelled at least 20 kilometres, compared to 5 kilometres for those who remain working in rural areas. Among them, more than half work in the city and are often far from public transport and are therefore forced to travel by car.

INSEE notes that people in employment travel on average daily more than 13 kilometres to go to work. The average journey reaches 22 kilometres for working people residing around Paris. The study specifies that the home-to-work distance is maximum for workers living in rural areas and working in an urban area. In total, these rural dwellers travel nearly 320 million return kilometres every day, compared to 200 million in 1999. The study underlines that in twenty years, the working population has increased twice as fast in rural areas as in cities.  According to INSEE, it is in the south-eastern quarter of France that home-to-work journeys are the shortest.


US President Joe Biden and top Republican Kevin McCarthy appear to be inching closer to a deal over the US debt ceiling, even as Congress breaks up for a holiday weekend. US media reported that a tentative deal would increase the ceiling for two years, capping federal spending except for the military and veterans. Investor worries have increased, despite earlier assurances that talks were making progress. The deal is not yet final.

Elon Musk's brain-chip firm says it has received approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to conduct its first tests on humans. The billionaire's Neuralink implant company wants to help restore people's vision and mobility by connecting brains with computers. It says it does not have immediate plans to start recruiting participants. Mr Musk's previous ambitions to begin tests came to nothing. The regulator itself is yet to comment.

And - British Airways has apologised for cancelling dozens of flights at London Heathrow on Thursday over IT issues. The airline said it is fixing "technical problems" causing difficulties with online check-in, delaying flights. Forty-three flights, or around 5% of its services, were cancelled, according to aviation data.


Football - Manchester United have booked their Champions League place with a game to spare thanks to a comfortable 4-1 win over a dismal Chelsea side at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.

In the Premier League action on Sunday Arsenal are at home to Wolves, Aston Villa play Brighton, Brentford face Manchester City, Chelsea are at home to Newcastle, Crystal Palace play Nottingham Forest, Everton play Bournemouth, Leeds face Tottenham, Leicester are at home to West Ham, Manchester United play Fulham and Southampton are at home to Liverpool.

Formula One - Monaco Grand Prix gets underway today with the first practice session at 1.30pm and second practice session at 5pm. Tomorrow will see third practice at 12.30pm and qualification at 4pm. The final race takes place on Sunday at 3pm.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton says he has not been in talks with Ferrari and he and Mercedes are close to agreeing a new contract to keep him at the team beyond this season. Hamilton's deal with the Silver Arrows runs out at the end of this season. He said he had a team working with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff on the new contract.

Tennis - Novak Djokovic has been drawn in the same half of the French Open men's singles draw as Carlos Alcaraz, meaning the pair could meet in the semi-finals. Cameron Norrie, one of only three British players in the singles, starts against France's Benoit Paire. The French Open, which is the second major of the season, starts on the Roland Garros clay on Sunday.

Cycling - Britain's Geraint Thomas extended his overall race lead as Italy's Filippo Zana won stage 18 of the Giro d'Italia.


Sunny with highs of 23 degrees in Saint-tropez and Mougins. 24 degrees in Monaco and Nice reaching 25 degrees in Cannes and Marseille. A gentle breeze. This evening going down to 17 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for the weekend remaining fine. Light winds highs of 22-23 degrees.

Sunrise       5.55am

Sunset        8.59pm

Beach weather forecast

Nice – Sea temperature 19 degrees. Air temperature 24 degrees with clear skies. UV level 8.

La Ciotat - Sea temperature 18 degrees. Air temperature 25 degrees with clear skies. UV level 8.

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