French and Riviera News Monday 16th January 2023


British woman dies in avalanche in French Alps - A 45-year-old British woman has died after getting caught in an avalanche while hiking with two other people in the French Alps. The accident occurred on Saturday on the Argentière Glacier, one of Mont Blanc's biggest glaciers. Rescue workers and a doctor were sent by helicopter to rescue the victim but were unable revive her. Police have launched an investigation into the woman's death.

The local public prosecutor's office said the woman and her partner had been Nordic skiing with a high mountain guide and were going up the Col du Tour Noir when the avalanche happened. The office confirmed there was an avalanche warning risk of three on a scale of five in place on Saturday. Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest mountain at 4,810 metres (nearly 16,000 feet), attracts 20,000 hikers and skiers every year.

Warmer temperatures in recent years have melted permanently frozen ground raising the risk of rock falls on the most popular routes. Last August, authorities closed down two popular mountain shelters used by Mont Blanc climbers because of potentially deadly drought-related rockfalls.

Meanwhile, according to a recent study carried out by Italian researchers the Alps have lost 36 days of snow cover, with the average depth of the snow cover decreasing by 8.4% per decade, between 1971 and 2019. The study points to an "urgent need" to “adapt" to help the region cope with the effects of global warming caused by human activities.

Weather warning - Météo France has placed the Alpes-Maritimes on a yellow avalanche alert and 24 other departments, mainly in the west of France, are on an orange alert with the risk of strong winds, snow and ice this Monday.

“Anti-inflation shopping basket”- The French government has announced that it is currently working on an "anti-inflation shopping basket" with around 20 consumer products. According to the minister of Commerce several possibilities are being studied in an attempt to ease the effects of inflation which have returned to levels not seen since the 1980s.  One of the possibilities is to have “a basket of basic necessities of about twenty products, which large retailers would undertake to sell almost at cost price". Should the project see the light of day, the basket will apply to “about twenty references out of 20 to 30,000 in store” therefore not excessively penalizing the margins of distributors. The anti-inflation basket has "nothing to do with the food voucher", which the government has several times tried to put in place before giving up and would be introduced in March.

Petrol voucher - The new "Petrol voucher" of 100 euros is available from today Monday 16th January and can be found on the website. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced at the beginning of December that the fuel rebate would be replaced at the beginning of January by an allowance of 100 euros reserved for the 10 million most modest workers. The aid applies to any type of vehicle, including two-wheelers and the deadline for applications is February 28th.

Electric scooters - Parisians will be invited to vote on whether to allow electric scooter rental services to continue operating in the city as authorities weigh banning the controversial for-hire vehicles. The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said Paris residents would be asked "a very simple question" in the referendum planned for April 2nd: "Do we or don't we continue with free-floating rental scooters?". The mayor said she herself was leaning towards a ban but would "respect Parisians' vote". A ban would make Paris an exception among major cities.

Man attacked by two dogs - A man has been seriously injured after being attacked by two dogs in Draguignan in the Var. The incident occurred on the Avenue de la Vaugine, on the old track of the “train des Pignes”. The victim was attacked by two Rottweilers. An investigation has been opened by police.

Small town ordered to remove statue - A French court has ordered a small town to remove a statue of the Virgin Mary, saying the “religious display violates the separation of church and state”. The statue is located at a crossroads in La Flotte, a municipality of 2,800 inhabitants on the popular holiday island Ile-de-Re, off France's Atlantic coast. The statue was erected by a local family after World War II in gratitude for a father and son having returned from the conflict alive.  However, an association has referred to a French law dating back to 1905 which forbids religious monuments in public spaces. Local mayor Jean-Paul Heraudeau called the discussion around the statue "ridiculous" because, he said, it was part of the town's "historical heritage" and should be considered "more of a memorial than a religious statue". La Flotte has six months to remove the statue.

Motorist abandons vehicle on fire to go skiing - A motorist has aba