French and Riviera News Monday 6th March 2023

News

Civic Service in France - France’s Education Ministry has suggested that the national civic service could become compulsory from September 2024. The “National Universal Service” or the SNU, offers teenagers aged 15 to 17 the opportunity to participate in a free programme involving sports, cultural and intellectual activities. It was launched back in 2019 and replaces France’s military service.

The programme consists of three phases. The first being a compulsory 12-day stay, which takes place outside the department or region of residence of the young person. This is followed by period of civic service in the community or with the army reserves. This is a minimum of 84 hours, completed within a year of phase one, outside school time. Finally, the third phase is an optional extension of voluntary engagement within a community or government structure, for a minimum of three months, up to the age of 25. In some cases, work is remunerated. A uniform will be provided, and the use of mobile phones will be prohibited during the day.

The programme has been at the heart of President Emmanuel Macron’s political campaign and was one of his first election promises. Macron is indeed the first French president not to have been called up to serve after it was abolished by former president Jacques Chirac in 1997. The President of the Republic will make the final decision on whether or not to make it compulsory later this year. He was due to do so in January, but the pension reform has forced him to postpone his decision.

Strike action against the pension reform – Meanwhile, as unions call for nationwide demonstrations in France tomorrow Tuesday 7th March against the government’s pension reform, according to a new Elabe survey a majority of French people say they support the establishment of a renewable strike and "the shutdown" of the country in order to roll back the government.  56% of French people "support the establishment of a renewable strike from March 7th and in the days that follow" and 59% "support the action of the unions to 'bring France to a halt" this Tuesday.

The government's plan is still considered unfair and ineffective in ensuring the sustainability of the pension system as well as being unnecessary. 49% of French people consider that Macron must "modify in depth" his reform and 33% want to see it "withdrawn."

Disruptions due to strike movement March 7th – Tomorrow will be the sixth day of mobilization against the pension reform and may well be the starting point for major disruptions in the days to come. Beyond the major disturbances for tomorrow, the inter-union intends to renew the strike in many sectors.

SNCF traffic will be very heavily disrupted, with on average 1 TGV train out of 5 running. Regionally 1 TER train out of 5 will be circulating. Internationally 2 out of 3 Eurostar trains will be operating. Full details of the regional disruption are available on the SNCF app or the TER website. Trams in Nice will not be operating and bus services will be limited. Finally concerning air travel the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has asked airlines to reduce their flight schedule by 20% in Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle and 30% in Paris-Orly, Beauvais, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Marseille, Montpellier, Nice and Toulouse. Air France plans to operate nearly 8 out of 10 flights, including all of its long-haul flights.

Other sectors affected by strike - In other sectors some truck drivers are expected to strike with blockages possible from this morning. The CGT has called for a renewable strike in the oil refineries, with the aim of "blocking the entire economy", in terms of the production, distribution and importation of fuel.

The seven main teacher unions have indeed called for “total closure of schools, colleges, high schools and services” on March 7. Blockages by high school students are also expected.

And absent from the movement up until now bin collectors are expected to participate in the renewable strike from March 7th particularly in the French capital.

Quad accident in the Var - A man has been seriously injured following a quad accident in the hinterland of the Var. Emergency services intervened on Sunday afternoon shortly after 4pm to assist a sixty-year-old victim in Saint-Julien. The man was air lifted to hospital by helicopter. An investigation into the incident is underway.

The Clooney’s invest in unusual project in the Var - Local media has reported that American actor George Clooney is ready to embark on an unusual project in the Var region. Owners since 2021 of the Canadel estate, in Brignoles, Amal and George Clooney plan to help towards the creation of a local council run farm intended to supply the town’s canteens. The couple acquired the Canadel estate in Brignoles, an 18th century Provençal bastide with 172 hectares of land less than two years ago. Since then, they have already demonstrated a discreet but real desire to get involved in local life. The mayor of Val Jérémy Giuliano, revealed just a few weeks ago that the couple had made a generous donation of 20,000 euros to the town hall.

Villa in Hitchcock film up for sale - The mythical villa of the film "To Catch a Thief " by Hitchcock has gone on the market for 3.6 million euros. The villa on the Côte d'Azur was made famous by the kiss between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in Hitchcock's film and is located at the foot of Baou de Saint-Jeannet. The Villa "Les Bolovens" covers 425 m² accommodating up to 16 people with eleven bathrooms, terrace, swimming pool and of course spectacular views. It was also on the set of this film that Grace Kelly met Rainier III of Monaco, whom she then married in 1956.

Business

The National People's Congress (NPC) has announced that China will increase military spending by more than 7% this year, while warning of "escalating" threats. Beijing's military budget which is around $225bn (£186bn), is still dwarfed by that of the United States, which is four times greater. But analysts believe China downplays how much it spends on defence.

Following a weaker demand for electronics Apple's biggest supplier Foxconn says its revenue last month fell by 11.65% compared to the same period in 2022. Foxconn said that operations at the world's biggest iPhone factory are recovering from Covid disruptions in China adding that it was exploring opportunities in India. In a statement Foxconn said that revenue from computing, smart consumer electronics and cloud and networking products declined in February.

The famous chocolate pyramid-shaped bar Toblerone is to remove the Matterhorn mountain peak from its packaging. The change comes as some of its production is moved from Switzerland to Slovakia. Toblerone, the pyramid-shaped bar, which mirrors the Alpine peak, will undergo a labelling revamp. US firm Mondelez said the image will be replaced by a more generic summit. Strict rules have applied about "Swissness" since 2017. They state that national symbols are not allowed to be used to promote milk-based products that are not made exclusively in Switzerland.

Sport

Football – In the Premier League it was joy for Liverpool and pain for Manchester United as the Reds thrashed Manchester United 7-0 on Sunday evening. It was the biggest beating in the history of this famous fixture, the last dates back to 1925 when Liverpool managed a 5-0 home win over Manchester United. Man of the match Mohamed Salah’s two goals made him Liverpool's record Premier League scorer with 129, overtaking Robbie Fowler despite playing 61 fewer games. Liverpool are now only three points behind Spurs, who lost at Wolves on Saturday.

This evening in the Premier League Brentford are at home to Fulham kick off is at 9pm French time.

Formula One - Red Bull's Max Verstappen started the new season with a dominant victory in the Middle East. The two-time champion led the Bahrain Grand Prix almost from start to finishVerstappen's 36th victory on Sunday, underlined his status as favourite for a third consecutive world title.

Tennis - Russian Daniil Medvedev swept past Andrey Rublev to win the Dubai Tennis Championship title. The 27-year-old beat the defending champion 6-2 6-2 to make it three titles in a row. Medvedev dominated from the start, breaking his rival in the first game.

Weather

Sunny, with a fresh breeze in Nice, Antibes and Mougins. Highs of 16 degrees. This evening going down to 6 degrees. Fine in Monaco with a moderate breeze and highs of 15 degrees. Cannes highs of 17 degrees, Saint Tropez highs of 15 degrees. Toulon and Marseille, sunny highs of 13-14 degrees and this evening going down to 3 degrees.

The outlook for tomorrow is rain and strong winds in Nice, light rain in Saint Tropez and Cannes with a moderate breeze. Wednesday sunny highs of 15 degrees in Marseille and reaching 19 degrees in Nice with strong winds.

Sunrise                06.59am

Sunset                 06.24pm

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