French and Riviera News Friday 7th April 2023

News

Strike action - An 11th day of strikes and protests against the pension reform in France saw air traffic disrupted at Paris's main airport and walkouts hitting the public transport, education, health and energy sectors on Thursday. Demonstrators again marched by the thousands in cities across the country as unions demand the complete withdrawal of a law to raise the retirement age to 64. The CGT union estimates that 400,000 people joined the Paris demonstration. The Interior Ministry puts the figure at only 57,000. Nationwide, the Unions put the number of demonstrators at 2 million while the ministry counted 570,000.

Eight people were arrested in the French Capital and more than 1,330 people were controlled to prevent violent outbreaks. Meanwhile rat catchers threw dead rodents at the Paris City Hall. Unions have called for new strikes and protests on April 13th, one day before France's Constitutional Court decides on the legality of the government's proposed pension reforms.

Drinking water in France - In other news, a new chemical analysis of drinking water has suggested that over a third of drinking water in France may be contaminated with a degrading pesticide. The analysis by the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety showed that a quality threshold was exceeded by contaminants in over one in three samples. The analysis campaign collected more than 136,000 results. Raw and treated water samples were taken throughout France, including overseas territories. The objective was to analyse water collection points representing approximately 20% of the water distributed. The organization said that no health effect of the degrading pesticide has been proven at these exposure doses, but "the data is very incomplete".

Paris metro operator under investigation - Meanwhile, the metro operator in Paris the RATP, is being investigated for fraud and causing involuntary injuries, following claims that it deliberately under-reports pollution levels and fails to inform passengers about the dangers. The investigation comes following a legal complaint filed back in 2021 by the organisation “Respire” which lobbies for clean air and accuses the RATP of deliberately under-reporting the problem and therefore putting travellers' lives at risk.

Green MPs pass a text for the victims of cracked houses - France’s lower house of the French Parliament has adopted a first reading of a bill aimed to improve compensation for individuals in France who are victims of “soil shrinkage-swelling”, accentuated by global warming, which causes costly damage to people homes. The text presented by Green MP Sandrine Rousseau, on Thursday was adopted with 115 votes to 9, despite criticism from the government and MPs from the presidential camp, who are against its main measures, It will now be considered by the upper house. According to defenders of the bill “10.5 million houses in France are in an area exposed to the risk of the movement of clay soils” which for them, “should come under the recognition of a state of natural disaster”. Speaking on Thursday Rousseau added that “insurers made record profits in 2022 and have the backbone to take care of the damage caused”.

Electric bikes - The number of electric bikes sold in France continues to increase. New figures show that there was a 12% increase in the number of electric bikes sold, bringing the total to just over 738,000, which is 28% of the bicycle market in France.

13,000 trees planted since 2008 - An initiative launched by the Town Hall of Monaco has seen 13,000 trees planted in and around the Principality since 2008. The project of  “one birth=one tree” launched by the town hall in collaboration with the team from the National Forestry Office, decided that for each child born in the Principality, it would plant a tree to help reforest surrounding municipalities but also areas affected by the forest fires.

Prince Albert visits villa - HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has plunged back into part of his mother Grace Kelly’s acting career, after visiting, this week, the villa of the film “To catch a thief” in Saint-Jeannet. The home was chosen by Alfred Hitchcock as the setting for the 1954 film. During his visit the owners of the property offered a book of photos taken at the time of filming to the Prince as a souvenir.

Le Boccaccio reopens - Le Boccaccio, an emblematic restaurant on the pedestrian street in Nice, has reopened its doors after several months of work. Established for 50 years on rue Masséna, the restaurant in Nice reopened its doors at the end of March with chef, Fabio Giovannini, offering signature dishes such as cod ceviche with fresh mango or sea bass in a salt crust.

Cannes Film Festival opening film starring Johnny Depp - The opening film at this year’s 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 16th has been revealed as a French period drama “Jeanne du Barry” starring American actor Johnny Depp. Directed by Maïwenn, the film tells the story of Jeanne Vaubernier, a working-class woman who uses her intelligence and allure to climb the social ladder in pre-Revolutionary France. "Jeanne du Barry" will be shown on the first night of the festival on 16 May and will be released on the same day across France. This year's Festival which runs from 16th to 28th May already has some heavyweight Hollywood stars in its line-up, with Harrison Ford starring in the world premiere of "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny".

Business

Amazon's planned takeover of Roomba vacuum cleaner maker iRobot is being reviewed by the UK's competition watchdog. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking at whether the deal could lead to "a substantial lessening of competition". Amazon is seeking to grow its operations for smart home appliances. Both Amazon and iRobot have both said they are "working co-operatively" with regulators. Amazon announced it was buying iRobot last year in a $1.7bn (£1.4bn) takeover deal. Roomba models sell in the UK from £249, with some costing up to £899.

A trade body has said that new plans for post-Brexit border checks on goods coming into the UK will deter many EU suppliers and will push food prices up.  The government says its proposals will prevent delays by reducing the need for physical checks for many goods. But the Cold Chain Federation said it was "deeply concerned" by the complex forms and costs involved to exporters. The Cabinet Office said it was a "huge step forward for the safety, security and efficiency of our borders". The plans - which have been delayed several times - are designed to introduce checks the UK is required to make under its Brexit trade agreement with the EU.

And - According to recent company filings, the publisher of the Sun newspaper has set aside £127m to cover the costs of phone hacking court cases.  News Group Newspapers said it hoped the sum would resolve the "tail end of litigation" sparked by years-old revelations that staff had intercepted voicemails of celebrities and others. There has been a rush of new cases filed since a judge imposed a cut-off date for new claims to join the current wave going through the courts.

Sport

Formula One – Ferrari have said that Red Bull's strong start to the season is partly due to their being given a "very light" punishment for breaking Formula 1's budget cap. Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur says that Red Bull have done a "very good job" but the penalty they were given last October was "very low".

Red Bull were fined $7m (£6.07m) and given a 10% reduction in permitted aerodynamic research for a year. The penalty was for breaching the sport's budget cap by £1.86m in 2021. Red Bull have dominated the start of the 2023 season, winning all three races.

Golf – A panel has ruled that LIV Golf rebels committed "serious breaches" by leaving the DP World Tour to play in the Saudi Arabia-funded events. The 12 players have now been told to pay the £100,000 fines originally imposed within 30 days.

Football - In the Premier League tomorrow Manchester United are at home to Everton (1.30pm kick off). At 4pm French time, Aston Villa play Nottingham Forest, Brentford play Newcastle, Fulham are at home to West Ham, Leicester play Bournemouth, Tottenham play Brighton, Wolverhampton play Chelsea and Southampton face Manchester City (6.30pm kick off).

On Sunday Leeds play Crystal Palace and Liverpool are at home to Arsenal.

Weather

Mainly fine with highs of 16 degrees in Monaco, Nice and Cannes. 17 degrees in Saint Tropez and Toulon. This evening going down to 8 degrees along the coast in the Alpes Maritimes and 5 degrees in the Var with clear skies.

The outlook for the weekend mainly fine with sunshine and highs of between 16-18 degrees.

Sunrise       07.02am

Sunset        08.03pm

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