French and Riviera News Thursday 22nd February 2024

National News France

French government announces new plans to prevent medical shortages - The French government has announced a new plan of action to prevent medical shortages in France. Over recent years caregivers and patients have expressed their concern over supply shortages with last year nearly 5,000 drugs being reported as “out of stock” or at “risk of being out of stock” compared to 3,761 in 2022 and 2,160 in 2021. On Wednesday the government announced plans to relocate production in France in 2024 and to better inform patients to avoid waste. This week it was announced that the first European paracetamol factory is due to open in 2025 in Toulouse in the Haute-Garonne.

French Prime Minister addresses the agricultural crisis – In other news, the majority of agricultural union for farmers the FNSEA, has welcomed a "certain progress" and "recognition" following French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s press conference on Wednesday morning, but have added that they are “still waiting for a clear timetable”. Attal placed agriculture "among France's fundamental interests" in the same way as its security or defence, confirming a new agricultural bill. While unions have welcomed his commitment to their cause, they are now awaiting clear announcements from the President of the Republic at the Agricultural Show in Paris this weekend.

Train traffic this weekend - The SNCF has said that train traffic will be normal this weekend with some localised disruptions. After last weekend was disrupted by strike action from controllers the SNCF has said that some localized disruptions will occur due to a switchers' strike. The switchers, who are responsible for regulating traffic on the network, have been called upon to stop working by Sud-Rail on Friday February 23rd and Saturday February 24th another busy weekend as due to some regions breaking up for half term holidays.   During the last switchers' strike in December 2022, around fifty TGVs out of 1,300 were cancelled during the first weekend of the Christmas holidays.

Bad weather - Météo-France has placed around twenty departments on an orange weather alert with violent winds forecast from today Thursday February 22, and cooler temperatures this weekend. Gales of more than 100km/h are expected in the Île-de-France, Normandy and Hauts-de-France. The bad weather is expected to cover the regions going from the North-East to the South-West of the country. Despite a cooling, temperatures will remain generally mild with minimums ranging from 6 to 9°C and 2 to 4 in the Massif Central with 10 to 12 degrees across the Mediterranean. The maximums will range from 12 to 15°C and 16 to 18 degrees in Corsica.


Man known to police shot dead in police raid - A man has been shot dead by an officer of the police commando squad of Les Arcs in the Var. The victim with a criminal record was shot dead during an intervention by the squad on Wednesday afternoon in Les Arcs-sur-Argens on Rue Guillaume-Olivier.  According to reports, the victim was in possession of a knife and was threatening towards the police. The police officer responsible for the fatal shooting is currently in police custody.

Motorists arrested after car chase with police – Meanwhile, two motorists have been arrested after a car chase with police in the city centre of Hyères, in the Var. The incident occurred shortly before 11pm on Tuesday. Police later discovered two firearms in the vehicle. The vehicle being pursued did not hesitate to run a red light at high speed and take a roundabout in the wrong direction, until it found itself blocked by the gate of a closed residence. Both individuals were arrested after fleeing on foot and place in police custody.

Mayor of Nice refuses to return to two-way traffic on the port of Nice - The mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi has announced that he will not comply with the judgment to modify the one-way street on the Port of Nice and the Quai des États Unis. In 2020 the administrative court decided to annul the local council decision which had led to the one-way system, leaving three months for the city to return to two-way traffic on the port, but Estrosi has said that he “won’t do it” adding that the changes were made between the two rounds of the local elections in which the second round Estrosi was re-elected with 60% of the votes. He concluded that a return to “two-way traffic would be a step backwards”.

The threat of Airbnb to local towns - More and more towns on the Côte d'Azur are at war with Airbnb in an attempt to save long-term rentals. Coastal communities are increasingly tightening regulations to limit furnished tourist accommodation. Among them, is Villefranche-sur-Mer which according to local reports has just taken a rather drastic decision. From July 1st, Villefranche-sur-Mer has announced a restriction on seasonal rentals. Mayor Christophe Trojani announced that the local council has voted unanimously so that only one accommodation per tax household can be rented as part of seasonal rentals. The decision validated by the metropolitan council in December will be applicable from July 1st, 2024. The objective of the mayor of Villefranche is clear: to halve the seasonal supply to "find 250 housing units, which allows Villefranche sur mer to welcome some 500 new residents to the town".

Future of Galeries Lafayette stores in Cannes and Toulon - The future of the Galeries Lafayette stores in Cannes and Toulon, along with 24 other stores in France, will not be known until March 20th. The 26 stores employ around 1,000 employees and are owned by French businessman Michel Ohayon. In addition to the 26-stores operated by Ohayon from Brodeaux, the Galeries Lafayette group directly operates 19 stores in France, including the historic one on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris. 13 others are operated by the Société des Grands Magasins or local entrepreneurs. Michel Ohayon has bought numerous textile brands in recent years, including Camaïeu, liquidated in September 2022. The businessman, in the grip of major financial difficulties, then had to sell Go Sport and Gap France.

Renoir - Cagnes-sur-Mer has agreed to buy two letters written by the artist Auguste Renoir, which document his time staying on the Riviera. One letter, dating from 1912, gives insight into Renoir's daily life in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The other, from 1900, is a written confirmation from Renoir in which he agrees to rent a home in Magagnosc, near Grasse. Cagnes municipal council voted in favour of buying the two letters, for a total value of almost €3,000.

Delivery man drives up ski slope to avoid pay toll at Mont-Blanc tunnel – Finally, a 24-year-old Belarusian delivery man has been stopped in a ski resort on the French Italian border after he was caught driving up the ski slope in his van. Later questioned by gendarmes the man, who was delivering textiles to France, explained that he wanted to save money on the pay toll for the Mont-Blanc tunnel. Finally, he was fined 200 euro and paid the toll.


Apple has advised users not to dry out their iPhone in a bag of rice. Despite the technique being popular amongst iPhone users should the phone get wet  experts have long warned against it, with tests suggesting it doesn't work. the tech giant itself has published guidance telling users it could result in small particles of the grain damaging their devices. The firm said people should instead gently tap out any liquid, with the phone connector facing down, then leave it to dry out.

The BT Tower, a well-known landmark in London, is set to be turned into a hotel after it was sold for £275m. Opened in 1965 by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the 177-metre (600ft) tower was used by television broadcasters for sending signals. It was London's tallest building for 16 years until the NatWest Tower in the City of London was built. The tower's former owners, BT Group, announced on Wednesday it had sold it to MCR Hotels.

The leader of Boeing's troubled 737 Max programme is to leave the company, which has been under pressure since a piece of one of its jets blew off during a passenger flight in January. The departure of Ed Clark after nearly 18 years is part of a wider shake-up of the commercial airplane division that Boeing announced on Wednesday. Boeing said the changes were aimed at improving its quality and safety. It comes as the firm prepares to meet with regulators.


Football – Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp has said that his team “will go for it on Sunday in the EFL Cup final despite Chelsea being favourites. The Premier League leaders had nine senior players missing for Wednesday's 4-1 win against Luton at Anfield.

Meanwhile, new Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe says his "preference" is to build a new stadium for the club that can also "serve the north of England". United have played at Old Trafford since 1910, but Ratcliffe acknowledged it had become "tired and in need of refurbishment". A new stadium could be built next to the existing ground in Trafford Park.

Formula One - Toto Wolff says the investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour faced by Red Bull's Christian Horner is "an issue for all of Formula 1". Red Bull's team principal Horner is the subject of an internal investigation by the team into his behaviour towards a female colleague. Horner, who has led the team since 2005, has denied the allegations. Mercedes team principal Wolff has called for the investigation to be transparent.

Cricket - England capt