French and Riviera News Monday July 5th 2021

News

Traffic - Gerdarmes across the region have stepped up patrols on the roads as the first wave of holidaymakers arrive in the south of France for the summer break. Authorities are using extra motorbikes and high powered Renault Megane 5s in order to be able to give chase to speeding motorists. There have already been several cases of motorists being clocked doing in excess of 150 km/h on the A8 motorway.

Other offences recorded over the weekend include using a phone while driving, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, driving without a license or insurance and not respecting security distances. Traffic on the roads, particularly the motorway has been dense over the past few days with a series of accidents causing lengthy delays. Gendarmes are also using a number of unmarked cars to catch motorists breaking the law.

Fires - The Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and the Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili have visited Draguignan in the Var to launch the annual forest fire prevention drive. The Ministers have met with local firefighters and have urged the public to take the greatest care around forestland this summer. Mr Darminin said that as climate change is becoming self evident, the threat to France’s forests and areas of natural beauty is greater than ever. There have already been several small blazes over the past couple of weeks which firefighters have managed to contain.

In the Alpes Maritimes over the weekend, firefighters aided by Canadair aircraft battled to control a blaze which broke out at Cuzon near the village of Isola. The fire was in a remote, inaccessible mountain area and was being fanned by a gusty wind. The blaze was eventually brought under control but the ground is now very dry and fires can start with a mere spark.

Narbonne fire - More than 250 hectares of forest land has been destroyed in a huge fire on the Massif de la Clape just a few kilometres from Narbonne. 170 people have been evacuated from the area including 140 who were staying at a local campsite. 12 fire trucks and 9 Canadair aircraft have been at the scene tackling the blaze. More than 400 firefighters have been involved in the operation with reinforcements called in from other parts of the country. A swirling wind has been complicating the efforts.

Vaccinations - Health care workers are being urged to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as the World Health Organisation warns of a possible 4th wave of the pandemic in Europe in the autumn. A sizeable minority of French healthcare workers have so far not had the vaccine for a variety of reasons despite there being plenty of stock. Health authorities say that by getting vaccinated, workers not only protect themselves but also reduce the risk of passing the virus on to patients.

The Heath Minister Olivier Veran has already suggested that the government might force hospital and care home staff to be vaccinated against the virus and a recent survey carried out by Oxada-Backbone for Le Figaro and France Info found that 72 percent of the public thinks that healthcare workers should get the jab.

Holiday jabs - The government is urging people who haven’t been vaccinated yet to do so in the coming weeks as the threat of the Delta variant of the virus grows. Getting a jab is now extremely easy for all age groups and the government is to discuss extending the use of the health pass for some shops as well as possibly bars and restaurants today. People infected with the virus and told to isolate may also face tougher measures but the message from the government is to get vaccinated now. Nearly two thirds of all new coronavirus cases being registered in France are of the Delta variant.

Cap 3000 jabs - Anyone wishing to receive a Covid-19 vaccination can get it at Cap 3000 without an appointment until Wednesday. A team of nurses attached to the fire service is on hand to administer Pfizer shots for either a first or second vaccination. The vaccination centre is on the ground floor of the shopping centre. People who wish to get the shot are required to fill in a 15 minute health questionnaire. All paperwork for the French social security department is provided. The centre is open from 10am until 8pm.

Drinking water - Around 50 residents from Roquefort les Pins have staged a protest outside the town hall owing to pollution in local tap water. The water company Veolia imposed the ban on drinking water on the 22nd of June after dangerous levels of lead and nickel were found in it. A representative from Veolia has attempted to calm the situation without much success and residents have expressed anger over the lack of action to find a solution.

Fatal stabbing - Police are investigating a fatal stabbing which happened during a mass brawl on the beach in Golfe Juan in the early hours of Saturday. Reports say that a fight involving between two and three hundred people broke out at around 5am on Saturday at the Pont de l’aube beach following an impromptu party. One person was fatally stabbed and two others were seriously wounded. Several others involved in the fighting sustained minor injuries. Police forensic officers have been at the scene to gather evidence. The investigation is being handled by the Grasse state prosecutor’s office.

Sales - Footfall for the summer sales has been light in Monaco over the weekend despite some stores offering discounts of up to 70 percent. Store owners in La Condamine, Fontvieille and the Rue Grimaldi say that they’re disappointed that more people didn’t take advantage of the special offers. The sales in Monaco last until the 15th of August and visitors are being encouraged to come and pick up a bargain.

No yolk - A family in Tourrette Levens has been given a major surprise after one of their hens laid a giant egg. The egg which weighed 229 grammes was found along with the morning’s normal lay during collection last Thursday. Bikini obviously had quite a job getting the giant egg, more than four times the normal size out but she’s said to be recovering well. The Guinness world record for the biggest hen’s egg ever laid belongs to another French chicken. Roussette from the Ardennes laid an egg weighing 249 grammes in 2019.

Business

Investors will be watching for the minutes from the most recent meeting of the US Federal Reserve which are published on Wednesday and may give deeper insight into the central bank’s views on inflation. Friday’s non farm payroll numbers beat Wall Street expectations but there is still enough slack in the labour market to persuade analysts that the Fed is still some way off from thinking about raising interest rates. Meanwhile Treasury yields are expected to stay tame in the second half of the year and may push some investors to take a second look at firms whose dividend payouts beat those offered on US government bonds. A reading of a leading index of companies that have increased their dividends annually for the past 25 years or more is up by 14.3% this year compared to a 15.8% gain for the benchmark S&P 500.

The UK supermarket chain Morrisons has agreed to a take over by Fortress investment group that values the firm at £6.3 billion or $8.7 billion. The offer from the Softbank owned investment group tops a rival bid from a US private equity firm. Morrison’s shareholders will get to vote on the Fortress offer which gives the supermarket chain an enterprise value of £9.5 billion once net debt of 3.2 billion is taken into account. Under UK takeover rules the rival bidder Clayton, Dublier and Rice has until July 17th to come back with an improved offer. Morrisons rejected a 5.52 billion pound unsolicited bid from CD&R on June the 19th. There has been speculation that other private equity groups as well as Amazon which has a partnership deal with Morrisons could enter the fight sparking a potential bidding war.

President Biden has said that he has directed US intelligence agencies to investigate a sophisticated ransomware attack that hit hundreds of American businesses over the 4th of July holiday weekend. There are suspicions of Russian gang involvement in the attacks which have paralysed software forcing firms to pay ransom money or spend large sums hiring cyber security experts. Mr Biden says that he has instructed US intelligence agencies to investigate and that the United States would respond if its determined that Russia is to blame. At last month’s summit between Mr Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Mr Biden urged the Russian leader to crack down on hackers and warned of consequences if ransomware attacks continued.

Sport

Euro 2020 – The semifinals of the tournament will be between Italy and Spain and England and Denmark. Italy reached the last four with a scintillating 2-1 win over Belgium on Friday night to set up a European heavyweight clash with Spain who required penalties to dismiss resilient 10 man Switzerland.

Denmark who many would like to see go all the way after the trauma of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in the opening game of the championship beat the Czech Republic 2-1 and will now play England at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday night.

England destroyed Ukraine 4–0 in Rome on Saturday night to reach the last four of the European Championships for the first time since 1996. Captain Harry Kane appears to have come into form, scoring twice on Saturday while Harry Maguire is looking imperial in defence and at set pieces.

Formula One – Max Verstappen has extended his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers championship to 32 points as he won the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday at a canter. Verstappen led from start to finish as Hamilton was unable to keep up and later suffered car trouble and tyre degradation. Valtteri Bottas finished second for Mercedes with Lando Norris in the McLaren in third. Hamilton could only manage fourth place and said afterwards that “Max is walking away with it right now”. Mercedes will be looking for a better performance with perhaps some upgrades at the British Grand Prix on July 18.

Tennis – The British teenage sensation Emma Raducanu will headline a day of 4th round singles action at Wimbledon today as the second week of the tournament begins. The 18-year-old will face Aija Tomljanovic on court 1 in front of a capacity crowd.

In the men’s event Roger Federer plays Lorenzo Sonego of Italy for a place in the last 8.

Cycling – Ben O’Connor of Australia has won stage nine of the Tour de France as Tadej Pogacar extended his overall race lead. O’Connor broke free from his rivals 17 km from the summit of the final climb to the line at Tignes. Pogacar looked like he could lose the yellow jersey before he staged a late attack to limit the damage. He has a 2 minute and one second advantage over O’Connor with Rigoberto Uran of Colombia in third place 5 minutes 18 seconds off the pace. Today is a race day before stage 21 between Albertville and Valence tomorrow.

Rugby Union – England have beaten the USA 43–29 at Twickenham. Joe Cokanasiga starred for England with two tries in his first performance for England since 2019.

Golf – Lucas Herbert of Australia has won the Irish open at Mount Juliet by three shots. The 25-year-old carded a final four underpar 68 with Rikard Karlberg of Sweden second on 16 under and Johannes Veerman among a cluster of players in equal third on 14 under.

Cricket – The third one day international between England and Sri Lanka at Bristol ended in a washout. England dominated again and bowled Sri Lanka out for 166 from just 41.1 overs. The rain came down before England could make their reply and the match was abandoned. England win the series 2–0.

Weather

Clear skies with moderate westerly winds across the Var. Top temperatures 25-27 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes, 31-32 degrees in the Var. Overnight lows of 19-21 degrees with clear skies.

Tuesday and Wednesday - Clear skies with highs of 27-30 degrees.

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