French and Riviera News Monday 23rd November 2020


Storm Alex - The road to Tende and the Vallée de la Roya is to reopen this morning for the first time in seven weeks. Rescue services continue to work around the clock in the region which was devasted by Storm Alex on October 2nd. Only two trains a day are able to access the region as repairs are still being carried out on tracks damaged following the storm. While the mild weather has allowed reconstruction of roads and bridges many locals fear that with winter just around the corner and the arrival of freezing temperatures and snow could delay the colossal reconstruction work needed in the region.

Nice first 5G service in France - Mobile operator SFR has inaugurated its first 5G service in France in Nice. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi was present at the launch of the event on Friday. The operator said that as of now over 50% of the population of Nice is covered by 5G. Regarding possible health concerns, the mayor said that the health and safety of the people of Nice are his priority. He said that the deployment of 5G is the subject of the signing of a charter of recommendations by all telephone operators and if he had "the slightest doubt" he "would never have signed up". SFR said that the next areas to receive 5G services will be Montpellier, Bordeaux, Nantes, Marseille and Paris Ile-de-France.

Europe-wide environmental initiative - Monaco is taking part in a Europe-wide environmental initiative. The European Week for Waste Reduction runs until 29 November. The theme of the 2020 edition is “invisible waste” such as waste which is generated to design, produce, package and deliver products to stores and is therefore invisible to consumers. The week will also raise awareness of the 3Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Lockdown - French President Emmanuel Macron is to address the nation at 8pm tomorrow Tuesday 24th November. The French government have made plans to ease the lockdown in “three stages” according to the government spokesman Gabriel Attal. Ahead of his address the Head of State, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, said that “nothing is worse than incertitude and the impression of endless morosity,” adding that “we have to be coherent, clear and give a sense of direction” concluding that “It’s difficult because the pandemic is unpredictable and worldwide. But it’s the key to trust, which itself is the key to success." In describing the “three stages” Attal said that the "the first step will be on the 1st December, then before the Christmas and New Year holiday period, and then from January 2021".

The slow but steady improvement in the health crisis is continuing. According to official figures, the number of new infections on Saturday was 17,881, down 5,000 on the previous day. There was also a slight drop both in the number of intensive care admissions and Covid-related deaths. As a result, Attal said some shops would be allowed to reopen in the lead-up to Christmas. He warned however that bars and restaurants which currently can only serve takeaway food and make deliveries until 9 pm - would continue to face restrictions along with people's freedom of movement.

Ski resorts - Meanwhile the question of ski resorts reopening this winter remains unanswered as the Prime Minister Jean Castex is set to meet with representatives today to decide.

Mink – Mink infected with coronavirus have been found in France and are set to be culled after the virus was detected at a farm in the western part of the country. One thousand mink will be slaughtered after tests identified the virus at a farm in western France after the country started testing its four mink farms in mid-November.

Nicolas Sarkozy trial - The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy opens today before the Paris Criminal Court. Sarkozy is going on trial accused of corruption and influence-peddling, for allegedly trying to bribe a magistrate in return for information about an investigation into his party finances. It’s the first time in the Fifth Republic that a former President stands trial. The former president led France from 2007 to 2012. He faces ten years in prison and a million euros fine for corruption and influence peddling.

Christmas lights - As every year, Paris turned on its Christmas lights at the weekend on the Champs-Élysées where streets remain empty due to the coronavirus lockdown.


Asian shares have risen this morning on hopes of imminent coronavirus vaccines but concerns over the impact of economic lockdowns and uncertainty over US stimulus has capped gains. On Sunday, a top official at the US government’s vaccine development programme said that first doses could be given to healthcare workers and other vulnerable people by mid-December. Markets have interpreted the comments as a sign that lockdowns that have paralysed the global economy