French and Riviera News Thursday 14th April 2022

News

French President warns of the “real face of the extreme right” - French President Emmanuel Macron has warned of the “real face of the extreme right” during a television interview. Facing a tougher than expected fight for re-election Macron lashed out at his rival, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, describing her wish to "change the Constitution without changing the rules" as "crazy". Meanwhile Le Pen has told television viewers that she will repair a 'damaged' democratic system. Since coming second with 23.15 % of the votes in the first round behind Emmanuel Macron who polled at 27.85%, Le Pen is seeking to appeal to the 21.95 % of voters who supported third placed far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Online tax declarations – As many in France are filling in their tax returns the French government has issued a warning about the rise in internet scams when filing your income tax online. According to authorities’ scammers are reportedly pretending to be agents from the tax office. In most cases, the victim receives a link by email, which tells them that they only have a few days left to make their declaration and are then redirected to a site which requires your bank details. While the website appears to look like the real tax site it is in fact a scam.

France has seized more than 23 billion euros worth of Russian assets - According to recent figures revealed by the French minister for the economy, Bruno Le Maire. France has seized more than €23 billion worth of Russian assets since the invasion of Ukraine began - including several luxury villas on the Riviera belonging to Russian oligarchs. As part of the sanctions adopted by the European Council a taskforce was set up to identify Russian assets in France. Some French bank accounts belonging to Russian oligarchs have been blocked, to the tune of €180 million. 41 properties have been seized around France. More than half of them are here on the Côte d'Azur - in Saint-Tropez and Le Lavandou in the Var, and in Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Nice and the Cap d'Antibes in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Three of the five police officers in court - Three of the five municipal police officers from Nice, suspected of a “kidnapping” have been brought before the court. The officers were arrested on Monday April 11th and placed in police custody after a 21-year-old man accused them of “police violence” and “kidnapping”. The officers face a possible 10-year prison sentence and a 150,000 euro fine.

Outdoor terrace heaters - A significant number of restaurants and bars on the Côte d'Azur have chosen to ignore a new ban on outdoor terrace heaters, which came into force on 1st April. Several cafe owners say they have no choice if they want to keep customers sitting outside after sunset. An exemption applies to covered terraces with fixed walls, which are well-insulated. Restaurateurs are currently benefiting from a grace period. No venues will be sanctioned for their outdoor heating until the end of May - by which time evening temperatures will be higher. But from next winter, offenders risk a fine of €1,500 - which is doubled if it's a repeat offence.

HSH Prince Albert II Monaco tests positive for covid - In a press release published on Wednesday the Prince’s Palace here in Monaco, has announced that HSH Prince Albert has tested positive for covid. It’s the second time that the prince has contracted covid, back in March 2020 he was forced to remain in solitary confinement for several days. According to the Palace “the current state of health is no cause for concern” and Prince Albert will continue to work remotely.

Association One Voice demonstrates - The animal protection association “One Voice” has demonstrated in front of pet shops in Nice which continue to display animals in their shop window, a practice which is now prohibited in France following a law which was adopted at the end of November.

Business

One of Apple’s key suppliers has stopped production because of a lockdown in Shanghai. Petragon has temporarily suspended production at two of its factories in China, after the city was locked down last month due to a rise in COVID infections. The factories in Shanghai and nearby Kushan have been paused in response to guidelines from the local government, although restrictions have since been eased and the company is hoping to resume production soon. Apple MacBook manufacturer Quanta and iPad maker Compal Electronics have also temporarily paused production in China.

The UK’s largest supermarket chain has made massive profits amid rising sales and a fall in COVID-related costs. Tesco reported pre-tax profits of 2.3 billion pounds which almost 3 times more than the 636M pounds from the previous year. Group sales excluding fuel rose by 2.5% to £54.8bn. The general trend in the UK is a 2.3% growth in retail sales year on year. However, Tesco warned of significant uncertainties and said performance would be affected by the investment needed to keep prices down. According to Chief Executive Ken Murphy, the company is laser-focused on keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check working in close partnership with their suppliers as well as doing everything they can to reduce their own costs.

Prices are rising at their fastest rate for 30 years. UK inflation rose by 7% in March driven by a sharp increase in fuel costs, which is the highest rate since 1992.

Prices are rising faster than wages putting increased pressure on the Government to intervene and to help those struggling. The cost of living is expected to rise even further after the energy price cap was increased which will result in an increase in gas and electricity bills. According to the Office for National Statistics, fuel had the biggest impact on the inflation rate with average petrol prices rising by 12.6p per litre last month, the largest monthly rise since records began in 1990.

The French company L’Occitane have decided to remain open in Russia despite increased international pressure. The firm explained that its motivation was to protect staff from potential retaliation. They say they have stopped shipping to Russia, although their website is still offering online sales. Many luxury international brands like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder have already closed shops and ceased online sales in protest of the war. Analysts are predicting a backlash against L’Occitane with many customers expected to boycott the brand. Last year, L’Oreal had worldwide sales of €1.5 bn.

Sport

Football – It was a good night for both Liverpool and Manchester City as both teams secured a Champions League semi-final. Liverpool will face Villarreal and Manchester City face Real Madrid.

Cricket - Andrew McDonald has signed a four-year contract with Cricket Australia appointed as head coach of Australia's men's team. McDonald, has been part of Australia's coaching team since 2019. Speaking about the appointment McDonald said "I am honoured to be given this incredible opportunity for what is an exciting period ahead”.

Athletics - The most decorated female track and field Olympian of all time Allyson Felix has announced that she is to retire at the end of the season. The 36-year-old American has won 11 Olympic medals, including seven golds, as well as 13 world titles.

Tennis – At the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday British number one Cameron Norrie was beaten by Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Norrie forced a deciding set before Spain's Ramos-Vinolas, who was hampered by an abdominal injury, came through 6-4 2-6 6-4. Meanwhile Dan Evans lost his second-round match 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 to Belgian David Goffin.

Weather

Mostly sunny today with occasional cloudy spells particularly this afternoon. Winds will be light peaking at 14 km/h early this afternoon. There’s no rain expected. Top temperatures are 21° along the coast and up to 23° inland the Var, dropping to an overnight low of 12°. Tonight will be partly cloudy with light winds.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, will be sunny and we’re expecting extended sunny periods over the Easter weekend with just a few drops of rain on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

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