French and Riviera News Thursday 18th August 2022

Local News

Hotel and restaurant staff in September - The hotel and restaurant industry on the Riviera is worried about a severe lack of available staff come September. The coronavirus shutdown discouraged many people from pursuing seasonal work in the catering industry - preferring instead to find more stable work in another sector. Many summer posts have been filled by students - and there are concerns that there will be a shortage of workers once they return to university. Some restaurants are planning to close their outdoor terraces early in the autumn to reduce capacity, or close for one day a week. Nationally, it's estimated that 200,000 jobs in catering are unfilled.

Young man detained for drink-driving - A young driver in Nice with 17 road offences already to his name has been detained again for drink-driving. The 27-year-old was stopped during a roadside police check and found to be three times over the drink-drive limit. He's in pre-trial detention and is due in court in mid-September.

Broken down train in Toulon - A broken down train in Toulon caused major disruption to rail services yesterday morning between Nice and Marseille. About 20 TER services and several long-distance TGVs were affected. Buses had to replace trains between Hyères and Toulon. Three TGVs on the Paris-Nice line were severely delayed - some by up to two hours. Matters were made worse when an SNCF conductor was assaulted on-board a train, and police had to be called out. It took most of the morning for trains to return to normal, as the line is congested at the best of times, with high-speed trains and stopping services all having to share the same track.

Estrosi concerned about government reform - The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has expressed concern about a government reform that would make it easier for so-called "dark stores" to operate legally. Dark stores are generally large warehouses in city centres where grocery products are stored for online delivery by the likes of Deliveroo. There are two in Nice - and locals often complain about noise and the regular comings and goings of delivery bikes at all hours. A draft ministerial decree aims to create a clear legal framework for dark stores. Christian Estrosi has written to the French minister in charge of urban planning. He says mayors have not been consulted about the reform - and he wants individual mayors to have the final say on whether they should be allowed. He said dark stores undermined regular supermarkets and convenience stores and made city centres less attractive.

Air conditioning - Despite soaring energy costs, a large number of shops on the Riviera are running air conditioning while keeping their doors open. Paris and Lyon recently banned the practice - and in the capital the first fines for keeping air-conditioned shop doors open have just been handed out. Traders argue that casual browsers are more likely to step inside a store and spend money if the doors are open.

Grande Braderie - Shops and restaurants in Antibes are organising a three-day-long campaign with discounts for customers, starting today. The Grande Braderie will see retailers put cut-price racks of goods outside their stores, with discounts of up to 70% on some products to clear stock before the end of the season. This year, for the first time, restaurants are also taking part, with special promotions and discounts on some dishes. Juan-les-Pins will organise a similar event at the end of September.

Agressive fish - Several beachgoers on the Côte d'Azur have reported being bitten in the leg by particularly aggressive fish while swimming or paddling. The culprit is the ballista, or triggerfish - a roughly 30 centimetre long temperamental fish well known to fishermen, with strong incisors that it typically uses to break into the shells of sea urchins and crabs. When it's hungry or trying to defend its territory, especially during breeding season, it can be known to attack humans.

Liberation of Bormes-les-Mimosas - A ceremony commemorating the liberation of Bormes-les-Mimosas in the Var, with French president Emmanuel Macron in attendance, has been postponed due to the bad weather. Macron was due to lead the ceremony this evening. Because of the rain and storms, it'll now take place on Friday evening instead. The French president is currently on holiday nearby, at Fort Brégancon.

Annual harvest in Bellet - Winemakers in the vineyards of Bellet, above Nice, have begun their annual harvest - two weeks ahead of the usual schedule. Due to a lack of rain and high temperatures, the grapes ripened much faster this year. Usually the grape-picking begins in early September. In the 1980s, the harvest was more like late September or early October. Bellet has eight vineyards that can use the protected AOC brand.

Rosé wine - Meanwhile, the French have remained the number one rosé wine drinkers in the world. An annual study by the World Rosé Observatory found the average French adult consumes 20 bottles of rose per year. France accounts for 35% of global rosé consumption, with French consumers spending €400 million a year on rosé in supermarkets. Americans come second with 15% and Germans third with 7%. The study says rosé's popularity continues to increase each year, and global consumption has grown by 20% in 20 years.

Business

China's premier has called on the country's richest provinces to offer economic support to boost pro-growth measures. The country saw consumption and output unexpectedly slow down in July. An uncompromising zero-Covid approach sharply slowed China's economic growth in the second quarter of this year. In a rare move, China's central bank cut lending rates on Monday to revive demand.

The UK is expected to take delivery of a shipment of gas all the way from Australia next week, as the pressure on European energy supplies grows. The liquid natural gas (LNG) is due to arrive on 22 August, according to commodities analysts Kpler. Australia doesn't usually sell gas this far afield, but European countries have been seeking alternatives to Russian gas following the invasion of Ukraine. The UK stopped importing gas from Russia in April. While the UK bought only a small fraction of its gas from Russia before the conflict began, the country is connected to the European gas network. Continental Europe is much more reliant on Russian gas, and deliveries via the Nordstream pipeline have already been curtailed.

Adam Neumann left WeWork, the once globally-hyped, now much-diminished, office space sharing company, under a cloud of questions about his management. Less than three years later, he appears poised for a comeback. The entrepreneur, whose staggering rise and fall has inspired reams of articles, several books and a television drama starring Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto, made headlines this week for winning hundreds of millions of dollars in backing for a new property venture - this time focused on apartments. In the process, he also ignited another firestorm. Details about Mr Neumann's new company, called Flow, are scant. In January the Wall Street Journal reported that Mr Neumann had purchased stakes in more than 4,000 apartments in the US, with an aim to create a "widely recognised apartment brand, stocked with amenities".

Sport

Football - West Ham have signed Germany defender Thilo Kehrer from Paris St-Germain on a four-year contract. Kehrer, 25, has made 128 appearances in four years at PSG. He has 22 international caps and regularly started for Germany during the past year.

Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo has said he will soon reveal "the truth" about his future after reading so many "lies" this summer. Although the Portuguese wants to leave United, new manager Erik ten Hag said he is "not for sale". But it is now thought United could let the 37-year-old leave before the transfer window shuts on 1 September.

Cricket - England will play 43 Tests between 2023 and 2027 as part of the men's Future Tours Programme announced by the International Cricket Council. Ben Stokes' side will play Australia and India in two five-match series during that time and will feature in three more Tests than any other nation. Australia and India will play in 40 and 38 Tests respectively compared to 25 apiece for West Indies and Sri Lanka. England's first Test of the cycle will be against Ireland next June. The ICC announcement comes at a time when the relentlessness of the schedule has been called into question with Stokes saying his retirement from one-day international cricket should be a wake-up call for the authorities.

Athletics - Afghanistan's Olympic flag-bearer Kimia Yousofi has been successfully relocated to Australia along with five Afghan families fleeing Taliban persecution. The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said the athletes with "ties to the Olympic movement" had arrived in recent months following a 12-month project to bring them to safety. Sprinter Yousofi, 26, carried Afghanistan's flag at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - which were postponed until last year because of the coronavirus pandemic - and took part in the women's 100m event. She is now hoping to compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Weather

Another stormy day on the Riviera - especially this afternoon - light variable winds and temperatures around 26 degrees celsius. The rain should be gone in the Var by this evening and a bit later in the night on the Alpes-Maritimes, with patchy cloud overnight and temperatures going down to 20 on the coast and 16 further inland.

Friday will be fine and sunny, with a Mistral in the Var gusting up to 55 kilometres per hour, temperatures around 27 on the coast and 30 further inland in the Var. The fine, sunny weather is due to continue into the weekend.

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