French and Riviera News Thursday 8th September 2022

News

Man killed following high-speed police chase - A police officer has killed a man following a high-speed chase in Nice, after the driver refused to obey an order to stop. The driver was reportedly at the wheel of a stolen car, and without a licence. Police travelling on the Voie Rapide spotted the car after it overtook them and started driving erratically. They gave chase towards the Avenue Henri-Matisse, where the car made a sudden U-turn and rammed into the police car twice. It then tried to run over an officer on foot. According to the public prosecutor, which is leading the investigation, a police officer fired a single, fatal, shot at the driver. Several witnesses have shared videos of the killing on social media. It’s the latest in a series of incidents in France that have raised questions about the police’s readiness to shoot.

SNCF to close dozens of ticket offices - Trade unions and passenger associations have condemned the SNCF's plan to close dozens of railway ticket offices across the Paca region. It's proposed that 50 guichets will be closed from 1st November. In Nice, the SNCF plans to close all but one of the guichets. The counter for long-distance rail tickets would stay open - and only by appointment - with seven others set to close. The rail operator has already cut the opening times of the guichets - in Nice they now close as early as 3.30 in the afternoon. The SNCF says only 4% of rail tickets sold in France are purchased from a ticket office, with most passengers using the website, app or a ticket machine. But the CGT trade union says it's important that passengers can still have human contact with an SNCF worker in stations. Disability rights campaigners also point out that some special tickets, such as the ticket for someone accompanying a disabled person, cannot be purchased on the app. A recent campaign in Les Arcs-Draguignan managed to save the local ticket office there from being shut down.

Positive first half of 2022 in real estate - Property experts on the Riviera say the first half of this year has been a generally positive one for real estate. Excluding new-builds, sales are up 15% on last year, according to new figures released by estate agents this week. Properties for sale typically find a buyer within six months. One estate agency, Century 21 Lafage, says property prices have risen by about 10% this year. The average property is selling for about €4,700 per square metre. The company says there is still huge demand, especially from foreign investors - notably Americans and Scandinavians - and the supply of available properties can't keep up. Estate agents are also struggling to meet demand for rental properties. New-build projects are a bit more sluggish. Century 21 Lafage says there is a shortage of available land to build on - and getting planning permission has reportedly become more complicated. With soaring energy costs, many building firms are worried that existing projects will be postponed. First-time buyers are also finding it difficult to get a mortgage as banks are applying stricter criteria and won't look at applicants with less than a 10% deposit.

Woman stabbed in the Var - A woman is recovering after being stabbed in the neck, in an apparent racist attack in Saint-Cyr in the Var. The 51-year old was attacked in the centre of town on Tuesday afternoon by a man who shouted his dislike for black people. A quick-thinking bystander came to her help and told her to apply pressure to the wound while they ran off in pursuit of the attacker, who was arrested. The victim was taken to La Ciotat hospital and was able to return home the same evening.

Vigil held for young AS Monaco footballer - A vigil has been held in memory of a promising young AS Monaco footballer who died last month. Laura Domecq was 22. She had played for Mouans-Sartoux football club before being recruited to AS Monaco's women's team. She died suddenly three weeks ago. As well as yesterday’s march in Mouans-Sartoux in her memory, AS Monaco also paid tribute to her. The Monegasque club said it had agreed with her family not to make the death public in August, to allow them time to mourn privately.

Intelligent traffic lights in Saint-Raphaël - In other local news, Saint-Raphaël in the Var is experimenting with what are called "intelligent traffic lights" on five busy arteries in the town. The lights are equipped with cameras that can detect how busy the traffic is and how fast an approaching car is travelling, from 100 metres away. Cars that respect the speed limit should encounter a steady stream of green lights, making traffic more fluid. But the lights can also turn red early if an approaching vehicle is going too fast. The new system only applies to straight stretches of road. The lights won't be used at junctions, or where there is a pedestrian crossing.

Man arrested with stolen credit cards - A man's been arrested on suspicion of trying to go on a shopping spree with several stolen bank cards at Cap 3000 in Saint-Laurent-du-Var. Police on a routine patrol of the shopping centre were alerted by centre management to his suspicious activity on Sunday. He was found with several cards that were not in his name. On closer inspection, it emerged that all the cards had been declared stolen.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco inaugurates museum in Corsica - His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco has inaugurated an archaeology museum in Corsica bearing his father's name. The new Prince Rainier III museum in Lucciana retraces the ancient and medieval history of Corsica. It includes objects and remains from excavations of the 2,000-year-old ancient city of Mariana - including a collection of relics linked to Sainte Dévote, the principality's patron saint. Lucciana was twinned with Monaco in 2009.

Business

The European Union appears set for a new showdown with Russia over gas supplies. The bloc has revealed plans for a price cap on Russian gas imports in retaliation for the war in Ukraine and measures to help member states cope with the energy squeeze. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen laid out five proposals on Wednesday, hours after Russia's leader threatened to turn off the taps to any Western nations moving to impose price caps on his country's energy. She said Russia had become an "unreliable supplier" following state-run Gazprom's decision to turn off the taps on the major Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely last week, adding that the EU's reliance on Russian gas had fallen significantly since the invasion.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of businesses in the UK are at risk of going under without government support because of soaring energy bills, according to insolvency experts. Red Flag Alert, which monitors the financial health of firms, said previously profitable companies are experiencing significant losses. Among those that survive, many will be forced to make workers redundant, the consultancy said. Firms are waiting to hear if they will get help with their energy bills.

Sport

Football - Chelsea have sacked manager Thomas Tuchel on the new owners' 100th day in charge after their third defeat of the season. The former Borussia Dortmund and Paris St-Germain boss exits after winning three trophies in 20 months. A club statement said the owners believed it was "the right time" to bring in a new head coach. Chelsea are sixth in the Premier League after three wins, one draw and two defeats.

Former Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs is to face a retrial over allegations he assaulted his ex-girlfriend, a judge has ruled. The judge set a new trial date of 31 July next year at a short hearing on Wednesday at Manchester Crown Court. Jurors had failed to reach verdicts following more than 20 hours of deliberations in his four-week trial. Giggs, 48, also denied controlling or coercive behaviour towards his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville.

Alcohol will be served "in select areas within stadiums" at this year's Qatar World Cup, organisers have confirmed. The Fifa event will be taking place in a Muslim country in the Middle East for the first time, and the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Islam. A 40,000-capacity fan zone in the capital Doha has also been confirmed, where a drink can also be purchased.

Weather

It should be fine and sunny today, some patchy cloud this afternoon and some strong gusts of wind on the Alpes-Maritimes coast up to 50 kilometres per hour. Temperatures reaching 31 degrees celsius and staying warm overnight with clear skies, 23 on the coast tonight, 18 further inland. The outlook for Friday: some early morning cloud will burn off to leave another fine and sunny day, 31 degrees celsius with a Mistral blowing over the region gusting up to 50 kilometres per hour. For now, the good weather looks set to continue over the weekend.

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