French and Riviera News Thursday 23rd March 2023

News

Emmanuel Macron defends pension reform - French President Emmanuel Macron has broken his silence on the pension reform, outlining the way forward in an interview on French television on Wednesday. Macron defended his policy to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, arguing that a government move to force the bill through parliament by decree was both legitimate and democratic. He said he hoped the legislation would be implemented by the end of the year after its examination by the Constitutional Council.

Industrial action today, Thursday 23rd March - Meanwhile, 12,000 police officers and gendarmes nationwide will be mobilised today to keep an eye on the latest day of strikes and protests against France's pension reforms. Demonstrations are planned in dozens of French towns and cities, including in Nice where protestors will gather outside the Centre Administratif at 10am and march towards Nice Airport. Unions are warning of a Black Thursday, with widespread disruption to public services, schools and hospitals. Public transport on the Riviera will be largely at a standstill. On the roads, due to a demonstration, the exit of interchange N°50 on the A8 motorway (Nice-Ouest) will be closed to traffic eastbound. between 9am and 2pm.

Emergency measures due to shortage of petrol - Several emergency measures have been passed by the Aix-en-Provence-Marseille metropolis due to a shortage of petrol at the pumps and to make travelling by public transport easier. Bus tickets in the area, which are normally only valid for one journey, can be used for all full 24 hours until further notice. Park-and-ride facilities around Marseille will be free, and extra rush hour metros and trams will run in the city.

Sale of petrol limited in the Alpes Maritimes – Meanwhile, due to the shortage the sale of petrol has been limited to 30 litres for individuals in the Alpes-Maritimes. The measure came into effect on Wednesday March 22nd and will be in place until Monday March 27th inclusive. The sale and purchase of fuel in manually transportable containers, notably in jerrycans and drums, is also prohibited, except for professional use justified by the customer.

Finance minister wishes to shorten motorway concessions - France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said he wants to shorten the duration of motorway concessions. The government has asked the Council of State how it would be possible to shorten "by a few years" the duration of the concessions of certain motorway companies, which have been more profitable than expected. Mr. Le Maire acknowledged before the National Assembly's Finance and Sustainable Development Committees that the calculations of profitability for shareholders made during the privatization of the motorways in 2006 had "not been good". Interest rates having fallen sharply, the concession companies - in particular Vinci, Eiffage and the Spanish Abertis - were able to repay their stake at a lower cost, improving their profitability, while toll rates continued to increase.

Ultralight aircraft crashes in Mon - Two people have been slightly injured after their Ultralight aircraft crashed on Wednesday. According to reports the aircraft had left Valberg and after losing a wing in mid-flight the pilot activated an emergency parachute to slow the fall. The aircraft was found in Mons found by the emergency services.

Investment fund launched for the protection of the oceans - The Prince Albert II Foundation has launched an investment fund for the protection of the oceans. The foundation announced during Monaco Ocean Week, the launch of an alliance with Monaco Asset Management to set up an investment fund focused on marine protection. The private investment fund initiated in the Principality is aimed at injecting capital into high-impact innovative companies that reduce the main sources of ocean pollution, transform production and transport methods and protect marine ecosystems.

IConnect Monaco - Thanks to the generosity of the people of Monaco and the surrounding municipalities, the Monegasque and Nice churches, and generous individuals, the charity association IConnect Monaco has raised 30,000 euros providing urgent aid needed following the double earthquake in Turkey back in February. Former guest on the Full English Breakfast Show and president of IConnect Monaco Christophe Sosso is hoping to go to Turkey in May. To make a donation and find out more about the work of IConnect Monaco go to www.iconnectmonaco.org

French-language activists launch legal action - A group of French-language activists have launched legal action over signs at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, being translated only into English and not any other language. The association, which won a similar case brought against the Eiffel Tower, believes failing to include other foreign languages leads to the increasing global domination of English. The association points out that certain information boards explaining the work to repair the cathedral, devastated by fire in 2019, are in French and English only. It has also complained to 20 other public bodies over their use of English, including in an advert by the national postal service La Poste for its banking service with the title “Ma French Bank” instead of Ma banque française and legal action is also being taken against the Bouches du Rhône authorities for their “Pass my Provence” visitors’ scheme, the Sorbonne for describing itself on its website as a “business school”, the EPF engineering school for its sign “Creating the future together” and Charles de Gaulle airport for using bilingual signs in French and English. The Académie Française, the “official” defenders of the French language was founded in 1634 and has 40 members known as “Immortals”.

Cannes Film Festival - Job interviews have begun this week to hire hosts and hostesses to oversee the smooth running of this year's Cannes Film Festival. 400 vacant positions need to be filled for this 76th edition of the major international event, which runs from 16-27 May. The candidates must speak excellent English, be friendly and flexible in regards to working hours and locations. After two rounds of interviews, the successful applicants receive a 12-day CDD fixed-term contract and they're paid the minimum wage.

Bakery for Saint-Paul-de-Vence - Finally with its little boutiques and art galleries, the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence has a lot going for it. But for the past 30 years, the second most-visited village in France after Mont-Saint-Michel has been lacking one crucial ingredient - a bakery. That's now changed and a new bakery has opened its doors to the public in the centre of the village, on Rue Grande. It’s open seven days a week and everything is made on site by a baker who lives in nearby La Colle sur Loup. The mayor of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Jean-Pierre Camilla, is delighted. His parents were the last people to operate a bakery in the village until the 1990s when they retired. He says the fact there hasn't been a bakery since is partly his fault - he chose not to take over the family business and went off in another professional direction instead.

Business

The US central bank has raised interest rates again, despite fears that the move could add to financial turmoil after a string of bank failures. The Federal Reserve increased its key rate by 0.25 percentage points, calling the banking system "sound and resilient". But it also warned that fallout from the bank failures may hurt economic growth in the months ahead.

Last week, the European Central Bank raised its key interest rate by 0.5 percentage points. The Bank of England is due to make its own interest rate decision today, a day after official figures showed that inflation unexpectedly shot up in February to 10.4%.

Today TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, is to give testimony in the US Congress for the first time. Mr Chew is likely to face a barrage of questions on TikTok's relationship with China, what data it collects, and what it does with it. He'll also be quizzed on why several journalists were spied on by ByteDance employees - something TikTok has already admitted.

And - Ikea has been told to protect its staff in the UK from sexual harassment following concerns over how it handled an allegation from a former employee at one of its stores. It is the latest household name to sign such an agreement, after a similar move by McDonald's last month. Ikea said it did "not tolerate harassment of any kind". The Swedish furniture giant has around 12,000 employees in the UK.

Sport

Tennis - Two-time champion Andy Murray suffered a straight-set loss to Dusan Lajovic in the first round at the Miami Open. Former world number one Murray, winner in both 2009 and 2013, was beaten 6-4 7-5 by the 76th-ranked Serb. Fellow Briton Kyle Edmund is also out after losing 7-5 7-5 to Wu Yibing, while Emma Raducanu was defeated in the women's draw by Bianca Andreescu.

Golf - Rory McIlroy made a winning start at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. Former champion McIlroy led from start to finish in his 3&1 victory over American Scott Stallings on Wednesday.

Weather

Cloudy and forecast to become increasingly cloudy as the day goes on. Moderate breeze highs of 16 degrees in Monaco, Nice, Antibes and Saint-Tropez. 17 degrees with sunny intervals in Toulon and Marseille. This evening going down to 10 degrees, remaining cloudy.

The outlook for tomorrow sunny intervals. Sunshine returns on Saturday highs of 16-17 degrees.

Sunrise       06.28am

Sunset        06.45pm

 

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