French and Riviera News Monday 20th March 2023


Unions advise motorists to fill up their tanks - Speaking to French media this Monday morning oil refinery unions have advised motorists to fill up their tanks as strike action against the pension reform intensifies. On Saturday the CGT announced the shutdown of the largest refinery in France, with others following suit.

Currently, in the Bouches-du-Rhône, nearly 25% of distribution locations are totally or partially out of stock. The neighbouring territories of the Gard (16.4%) and the Vaucluse (18.1%) are also affected. Another department affected is the Loire-Atlantique with nearly 10% of service stations “in difficulty”. In the Paris region, only the Hauts-de-Seine department showed a significant rate, with 6.4% of pumps partially or totally out of stock.

Train traffic remains disrupted - Meanwhile, train traffic will remain disrupted this Monday, March 20th, on the 14th day of renewable strike against the pension reform.

The SNCF forecasts overall traffic similar to the previous days, namely, two TER trains out of three, on average nationally, four TGV INOUI and OUIGO out of five, three out of five-day time intercities and no night traffic.

The SNCF traffic has been disrupted since the launch on March 7th of a renewable strike against the pension reform by unions. Traffic should remain disrupted on Tuesday and intensify on Thursday 23rd March, the day chosen for national strike action across France.

Vote in National Assembly today - In the National Assembly today Monday 20th March, the reform will require another vote following the unpopular use of article 49.3 which forced it through last week. For the reform to be rejected along with the French government and Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne, a majority of 287 votes are needed, a scenario which according to French media this Monday morning is highly unlikely.

Party office vandalized - Locally at the weekend the political party office of the president of France’s Republican Party Eric Ciotti, on the port of Nice, was vandalized during the night on Saturday and demonstrators ahead of today’s vote gathered in front of the same premises on Sunday evening in protest against the pension reform and the use of 49.3. Around 300 people were present following the initiative of a group of young citizens to demand the withdrawal of the pension reform and denouncing a "denial of democracy" with the use, by the government, of article 49.3.

Anger in the streets - The government's decision to resort last Thursday to article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows it to get a bill through parliament without a vote, has indeed prompted anger in the streets after weeks of mostly peaceful protests. Police on Saturday closed Place de la Concorde in Paris following two successive nights of clashes. Some 122 people were arrested. Other demonstrations in cities around France had gone off peacefully, with hundreds turning out in the Mediterranean port city Marseille.

MP to present bill against private jets at Nice International Airport - Green MP Julien Bayou has defended a ban on private jets at Nice International Airport. On Sunday March 19th, Bayou came to present his bill on the tarmac of the airport ahead of it being presented to the National Assembly on April 6th. The green MP claims that "a round trip Paris-Nice by jet represents the consumption of a motorist over an entire year" adding that “in Nice private jets account for 43% of landings and take-offs, with 35,000 flights in 2021 with an average of five passengers on board”. Nice is the third airport in the world in terms of private jet traffic.  Julien Bayou concluded that the government needs to "bring the rich back down to earth" saying that it was unfair and unrealistic to ask people to make an effort and realise the urgency and importance of the ecological transition if others are able still able to travel by private jet.

Mayor of Monaco - Georges Marsan has been re-elected as the mayor of Monaco at the weekend. The results see the mayor achieve a record-breaking sixth mandate in the Principality. Marsan took the microphone at Espace Léo-Ferré to announce his re-election.

Pet hospital in La Turbie - The town council of La Turbie has reportedly signed an agreement with developers planning a “One Health” pet hospital project concerning three plots of land in the area. The move means that the hospital, an innovative concept could soon see the light of day in the hills above the Principality.

Stair race in Beausoleil – Seventy participants have attended this year’s stair race in Beausoleil at the weekend.  The stairs have become one of the emblems of the neighbouring town of Monaco. Since 1998, athletes have been competing to see who will arrive at the top of the 427 steps first. The equivalent of a 27-storey building!

70 athletes, including two disabled runners have competed in this year’s 23rd edition. For the men, it was Quentin Raibaut (from the Vésubie Trail Club) who arrived 1st in 1'27". A performance which almost dethroned the record of ( 1'26"). Among the women, it was Valérie Raibaut (from AS Monaco athletics), the mother of the men's winner, who finished first in 1'58”.

Bal de la Rose - The decor for the next Bal de la Rose in Monaco has been revealed, chosen by Princess Caroline and designed by Christian Louboutin the theme is Bollywood. The upcoming Bal de la Rose, scheduled for March 25th in Monaco, already promises to be unforgettable as the Salle des Etoiles is transformed into the stage set for a Bollywood film. The greatest Indian artists will perform along with singer Mika The evening is held for the benefit of the Princess Grace Foundation.

Famous houses on the market in the region - The « Beau Site » villa in Nice, where the music video for the Cure's single "Catch" was shot has just been sold. Meanwhile the Kennedy's holiday home in Valbonne, and that of the film "To catch a thief" by Alfred Hitchcock in Saint-Jeannet, are still on the market. The Beau Site villa in Nice with its octagonal tower overlooking Boulevard Carnot is known to all Nice residents and has just been sold for nearly 6 million euros to a local hotelier. The late 19th century property, partially classified as a "historical monument" since 1987, has been abandoned for decades. Classified for its facades, roofs, and decorated music room, it is also remarkable for the breath-taking views over the Baie des Anges. A location which had caught the eye of The Cure. The British group chose the Beau Site villa as the setting for the clip for "Catch" at the end of the 80s.

And - although not officially confirmed local media Nice Matin, has suggested that former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher may have recently purchased property here on the Côte d'Azur by buying the home of UK presenter Noel Edmonds, in Grasse, for 3 million pounds.

Couple from the Var win 1.5 million jackpot - Finally, a couple from the Var have won nearly 1.5 million euros at the casino in La Ciotat. The couple from Hyères won the jackpot on Saturday at a slot machine in the casino.


UBS has rescued troubled bank Credit Suisse in a government backed deal. Sunday’s evening’s announcement came after a weekend of emergency talks in Switzerland between the two banks and the country's financial regulators. The Swiss National Bank said the deal was the best way to restore the confidence of financial markets and to manage risks to the economy. The Bank of England said it welcomed the "comprehensive set of actions". Global financial institutions were quick to praise the deal.

Security guards at Heathrow Airport's Terminal Five are to strike for 10 days from 31 March in a dispute over pay. The Unite union says more than 1,400 of its members employed by Heathrow will walk out in a period which covers the school Easter holidays. Workers at T5, which used by British Airways, and those who check cargo entering the airport, will take part in the action, ending on Easter Sunday. Heathrow says contingency plans will be put in place to keep the airport open.

And - Travellers flying into England from mainland China will no longer have to provide proof of a negative pre-departure test from next month. The change will come into effect on 5 April - exactly three months after the measures started. Ministers brought in controls after a spike in cases following Beijing's relaxation of its zero-Covid policy.

Rugby Report - Sponsored by Van Diemen's Australian Bar & Restaurant

It played out like a Hollywood ending as Ireland claimed a historic Six Nations victory on Saturday, rounding off the tournament with a 29-16 win against England to be crowned Grand Slam champions.

It was Johnny Sexton's final Six Nations appearance and Ireland supporters made an astonishing noise in tribute to Sexton when he limped off with a groin injury on Saturday evening, after becoming the country’s highest points-scorer in Six Nations history.

While Ireland were celebrating, England meanwhile, failed to live up to expectations, finishing fourth in the table, behind France and Scotland who both proved their strength with the ball in hand throughout the tournament.  Wales meanwhile sunk to fifth while Italy finished bottom of the table, failing to win a game. 


Formula One - Sergio Perez held off team-mate Max Verstappen to take a Red Bull one-two in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Verstappen fought up from 15th on the grid to fourth place before a safety car closed up the field and brought him into contention for victory. It was Red Bull's second consecutive one-two. Alonso was reinstated in third after a post-race penalty was overturned.

Football – In the Premier League last night Arsenal cruised past Crystal Palace winning 4-1 going eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Meanwhile in the FA Cup quarter finals Sheffield United beat Blackburn Rovers 3-2. Teenager Evan Ferguson scored twice to send Brighton through to their third FA Cup semi-final winning 5-0 bringing Grimsby Town's dream run to an end and Manchester United came from a goal down to beat nine-man Fulham and reach the FA Cup semi-finals with a controversial 3-1 victory at Old Trafford.

Cycling – Dutch cyclist Mathieu van der Poel won the prestigious Milan-San Remo 62 years after his grandfather with a late solo attack. Van der Poel's maternal grandfather, French cyclist Raymond Poulidor, won the one-day Monument race in 1961.


Sunny with a gentle breeze. Highs of 17 degrees in Nice and 15 degrees in Vence. 16 degrees in Cannes and Monaco with light winds. Corsica - rain forecast by this afternoon, in North and East of the island. This evening going down to 9 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for tomorrow and Wednesday. Tomorrow Tuesday, cloudy with highs of 17. Wednesday sunny Intervals highs of 16-17 degrees.

Sunrise 06.34am

Sunset 06.41 pm

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