French and Riviera News Monday 15th April 2024

Road deaths on the rise on the Riviera - There's been a sharp rise in road deaths in the Alpes-Maritimes, according to new figures from the préfecture. Six people died on the department's roads last month. That compares with two deaths a year earlier, in March 2023. Motorcyclists were the most common victims - four of the six people killed were bikers. The number of serious injuries in road accidents in the Alpes-Maritimes is also on the rise, reaching 32 last month, up from 28 the same time last year. On Saturday, a motorcyclist in his 60s died following a collision with a car in Vidauban in the Var. The incident happened at a crossroads. According to initial reports, visibility was poor because the junction was blocked by rubbish containers. The motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital in Toulon but couldn't be resuscitated.

Late-night spot checks on drivers - Meanwhile, about 100 police officers carried out a large-scale series of roadside checks on vehicles in five towns in the Alpes-Maritimes. The unannounced spot checks took place in the early hours of Sunday morning in Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Grasse and Cagnes-sur-Mer. In Nice alone, 60 national and municipal police officers stopped vehicles on the Promenade des Anglais and checked drivers for drink and drugs. They caught several cars speeding, several drivers over the drink-drive limit and they punctured the tyres of one car that tried to speed away and avoid being checked.

Traffic jams damaging Riviera's economy - A new study suggests businesses in the Alpes-Maritimes are losing millions of euros per year and hundreds of thousands of hours of workers' time due to the region's notorious traffic jams. The Union for Business 06 says bad traffic is harming worker productivity, including missed appointments and increased stress levels. It says road infrastructure in the Alpes-Maritimes needs urgent improvement, including increased capacity on the A8 motorway and a major improvement to public transport. Pressures on the local housing market also mean employees are travelling greater distances between their home and their workplace.

Three more arrests over monkey thefts - Three people have been arrested and charged in connection with the theft of 15 squirrel monkeys from a zoo in the Var. The monkeys disappeared from the animal park in La Londe-les-Maures back in January. Since then, five of the monkeys have been safely recovered following investigations by the SPA animal welfare charity and several police raids in Marseille and in the Oise department, near Paris. The Toulon public prosecutor has announced that three new arrests have been made. They've been charged with theft in an organised gang and illegal transport of non-domesticated animals. If found guilty, they could be jailed for up to 15 years. The protected species can fetch anywhere up to €7,000 on the black market.

Manhunt for missing burglar - Gendarmes have used a drone to try to track down a suspected burglar who ran away and hid in the hills between Eze and Villefranche-sur-Mer. Two men were arrested following the break-in at a luxury villa on the Moyenne Corniche on Saturday, but a third remains on the run.

Estrosi wants another term as Nice mayor - The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has announced he'll be seeking another term in office. Estrosi has confirmed he'll be a candidate in the next municipal elections, which take place in 2026. If re-elected, it'll be his fourth term. He said his campaign priorities would be ensuring good quality of life for Nice residents, and ensuring the city continues to host major events such as this summer’s Tour de France and next year's UN Ocean Summit.

Rubbish clean-up operations throughout Riviera - Volunteers in Saint-Laurent-du-Var have collected more than 100 kilos of rubbish in just two hours this weekend. The clean-up operation focused on the Bois des Pugets. It was part of a bigger region-wide waste collection exercise, which saw volunteers get involved in Antibes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Théole-sur-Mer and Levens.

Julian Lennon's villa up for sale - A seafront villa belonging to John Lennon's son has been put up for sale. Julian Lennon has owned the impressive property in Eze for the past 25 years. It comes with stunning sea views, carefully restored Venetian mosaic flooring and frescoes, a pool, cinema, a recording studio and its own private chapel. The asking price: 25 million euros.

BUSINESS

Getir, one of the world's largest grocery delivery platforms, is in talks about a restructuring just two years after it was valued at nearly $12bn. Getir was founded in Turkey and now operates in five markets including the UK. It's examining a number of options as part of talks with its leading investors. This could involve a break-up of the rapid delivery group, an exit from a number of its remaining markets or some form of emergency restructuring mechanism. A source close to the company denied that any form of insolvency process was under consideration, saying that if it decided to exit a country it would do so "in an orderly fashion".

It's been warned that British ministers’ decision to impose Brexit import checks on 30 April will lead to shortages of some foods, flowers and herbs. The UK government has given the British food industry 27 days’ notice that every consignment of items such as camembert, steak, tulips and chives would be subject to fees of up to £145. Small retailers such as delis and farm shops have been scrambling to make sure they still have products to sell. Some EU exporters have already decided that they have had enough of British red tape and are either pausing supply operations or have given up completely. Since 2020, importers have had to deal with mounting levels of Brexit bureaucracy. Next month, they will have another form to fill out for animal products, plants and herbs and must pay a charge per consignment.

And American president Joe Biden has been urged to ban imports of Chinese-made electric cars to the US. The chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Sherrod Brown, said "Chinese electric vehicles are an existential threat to the American auto industry". His comments are the strongest yet by any US lawmaker on the issue, while others have called for steep tariffs to keep Chinese electric vehicles out of the country. In February, the White House said the US was opening an investigation into whether Chinese cars pose a national security risk.

SPORT

Football - Liverpool's Premier League title hopes were dealt blow after they lost 1-0 at home against Crystal Palace yesterday. It was Liverpool’s first Premier League defeat at Anfield since October 2022 against Leeds. Manchester City have their sights on the title after a dominant 5-1 victory over struggling Luton Town. Meanwhile, in the Scottish Premier League, Ross County came from behind to secure a historic first victory over Rangers and deliver a damaging blow to the visitors' Scottish Premiership title hopes. Final score Ross County 3, Rangers 2. In the Women's FA Cup semi-final, Manchester United beat Chelsea 2-1, in a rematch of last season's final.

Tennis - In the final day of action at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen captured their maiden ATP Masters 1000 title as a team on Sunday when they overcame Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev 5-7, 6-3, 10-5 in the doubles final. Gille and Vliegen have now won eight tour-level doubles titles as a team, with their success in Monte-Carlo their first trophy this season. They are just the second and third Belgians to win an ATP Masters 1000 doubles title after Xavier Malisse won in Indian Wells in 2010. And in the grand finale yesterday afternoon, Stefanos Tsitsipas needed just 1 hour 36 minutes to cap another standout week at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and defeat Casper Ruud 6-1, 6-4 to win his third title in four years in the principality. The Greek has produced his best tennis in Monte-Carlo in the past and once again rose to the occasion against Ruud in front of a capacity crowd on Court Rainier III.

WEATHER

A bit of a cloudy start along the coast, clearing up to leave a fine and sunny afternoon throughout the Riviera, some strong winds from the west gusting up to 55 kilometres per hour. Temperatures this afternoon reaching 20 degrees celsius on the Alpes-Maritimes coast, 24 on the Var coast and up to 26 inland in the Var. A partly cloudy night tonight, still with those strong gusts of wind. The outlook for Tuesday: fine and sunny, staying windy with gusts up to 85 kilometres per hour on the Var coast. Temperatures tomorrow afternoon going up to 22 degrees celsius on the coast, 24 inland in the Alpes-Maritimes, a bit cooler inland in the Var though, with temperatures there not getting above 19 degrees celsius.

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