French and Riviera News Thursday July 8th 2021

News

Traffic chaos - Motorists have endured another difficult afternoon on the A8 motorway as a result of a serious accident involving a truck and five cars on the eastbound carriageway near Mandelieu. One person died and two more were critically injured in the pileup which also caused a huge blaze in vegetation at the side of the road, forcing authorities to close the road and divert traffic off the motorway at junctions 40 and 41.

Earlier another vehicle caught fire further up the road near Villeneuve Loubet complicating the situation and showing once again that the region’s road infrastructure is not capable of handling the volume of traffic in the event of a serious accident.

A tailback stretching for more than 15 kilometres formed as a result of the crash. The road wasn’t reopened for several hours. 40 firefighters attended the scene and Canadair aircraft had to be brought in to put out the  fire.

Cannes 2021 - The 74th Cannes Film Festival is continuing at the Palais des Festivals with two fresh screenings today in the Palme d’Or competition. “Lingui” or “The Sacred Bonds” by Mahamat Saleh-Haroun is being screened at lunchtime and tells the story of a pregnant 15 year old girl in Chad who finds herself in an impossible situation in a strict Muslim country.

This evening, the new film from Joachim Trier is being shown. “The worst person in the world” is the story of Julie, a 30-year-old woman torn between settling down with her partner or falling for the charms of a younger man. The film is in Norwegian and concludes the director’s Olso Trilogy which started with “Reprise” and continued with “Oslo”.

The Festival is also eagerly awaiting the first screening of the new Sean Penn film “Flag Day” which deals with the coming of age of a young woman while navigating a tense relationship with her con-man father and stars Kathryn Winnick, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn. The film will be screened for the first time on Saturday.

Tight security - There’s tight security in and around Cannes as the Festival gets into full swing. As the event is taking place in July and not in its normal slot in the month of May, authorities not only have to look after delegates but also visitors on holiday. Patrols of mounted police are on duty and there are also extra officers keeping watch from the ground, sea and in the air. The town is expected to be extremely busy on the French national Bastille Day holiday on July the 14th.

More police - Some 300 extra police and Gendarmes have been sent to the Côte d’Azur to help look after the summer crowds. With holiday season now in full swing, extra patrols will be on duty in major towns and cities until the end of the summer. Authorities are calling on the public to be extra vigilant as the summer months bring not only more tourists but also more thieves. Pickpockets regularly operate on the public transport network and there are gangs of opportunistic thieves using motor scooters looking for easy pickings from unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians. Make sure you keep valuables safe, don’t carry large amounts of cash and make sure that car doors are locked from the inside when driving. It’s also a bad idea to wear an expensive watch or jewellery when walking in busy town centres.

4th wave - The government has once again called for a “mass vaccination” programme in a bid to stave off a 4th wave of the coronavirus pandemic as the delta variant continues to spread fast. Speaking on Wednesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that 11 regions of France are seeing infection rates rise with particular concern in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur and the Ile de France. Mr Attal said that vaccination is the key to get out of the coronavirus tunnel and called on the public not to wait but to get the jab now. There have been 2117 new cases of the delta variant picked up in the past 24 hours and ICU hospital bed occupancy is running at 20 percent.

Mr Attal said the government would be holding another defence council meeting on Monday where plans to make vaccination mandatory for some professions would be discussed as well as the possibility of extending a requirement for a health pass to be produced before people are allowed into bars, restaurants and some shops.

New cycle path - The new coast road cycle path at Villeneuve Loubet has been officially opened by the President of the Alpes Maritimes general council Charles-Ange Ginesy and the Mayor Lionel Luca. The new path, which cost 6.7 million euros provides better protection for cyclists from road traffic and construction first started in 2013. Motorists have been urged to drive responsibly in the zone and to respect the rights of cyclists.

Erosion - The St Tropez town council is examining plans to prevent further erosion at a popular beach. The council had already installed wooden passerelles to gauge the extent and speed of erosion on the plage des Canebiers but there’s no doubt that the sand is slowly disappearing as the sea gains ground. The beach is popular all year round with local residents and there are plans to take sand from the sea bed to build up the shore but not until at least 2024.

Business

The head of the International Monetary Fund has said that further fiscal support in the United States could fuel inflationary pressures and warned the risk of a sustained rise in prices could require raising interest rates earlier than expected. IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said that higher US interest rates could in turn lead to a sharp tightening of global financial conditions and significant capital outflows from emerging and developing economies. The IMF assessment of US inflation risks comes amid sharp criticism by Republican lawmakers of President Biden’s multi trillion dollar plans to boost spending on infrastructure, childcare, community college tuition and expanded coverage of home care for the elderly and disabled. Ms Georgieva said that an accelerated recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States would benefit many countries through increased trade but rising inflation could be more sustained than expected.

The financial technology firm Wise has been valued at £7.95 billion following its market day debut on Wednesday. It’s the largest ever tech listing in London by market capitalisation. The first direct listing on the London stock exchange could pave the way for other tech companies to follow. This strong results crown is a record-breaking year for London listings and could encourage other fast-growing British firms in the financial technology sector. The opening price of 800p was in line with the auction process in the hours preceding the float. Shares quickly rose to 830p by mid morning on volumes of 49.5 million. Wise launched a direct listing on the London stock exchange last month which allows for a listing without a public offering of shares. Several tech companies including Deliveroo, Trustpilot and Moonpig have already listed in London this year and helped push IPOs to a record high.

The UK pub chain Wetherspoons says that it will have to put up the price of food by around 40p a meal if a VAT cut for the hospitality industry is not extended. VAT on food sold in pubs was cut from 20% to just 5% during the pandemic to help struggling businesses. However, it’s set to return to normal levels in stages over the next year. Wetherspoons which has 860 pubs in the UK said that the plan would make the entire hospitality industry less competitive. The company said that despite coronavirus restrictions easing, sales were still down by 14.6% between the 17th of May to the 4th of July when pubs were fully open again. Wetherspoons said that it expects to make a loss for the year ending the 25th of July and for next year's sales to be in line with the financial year 2019 if all restrictions are ended as the government intends.

Sport

Euro 2020 - England are through to the finals after beating Denmark two – one in extra time in last night‘s semi-final at Wembley. England went behind to a stunning Damsgaard free kick on 30 minutes but an own goal by the Danish captain levelled it up on 39 minutes and the match ended 1-1 forcing extra time.

Denmark can feel aggrieved at the penalty decision awarded to England in the first period of extra time but a VAR check confirmed the spot kick and although Kasper Schmeichel saved Harry Kane’s shot, the England captain put it in on the rebound to make it 2-1 and put England into their first major tournament final since the World Cup in 1966. England will play Italy in the final at Wembley on Sunday night.

Tennis – Roger Federer says that he will make an announcement on his future soon as he lost in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon. The 39-year-old who turns 40 next month looked out of sorts as he was beaten in straight sets by Hubert Hurkacz.

Novak Djokovic sailed through to the semifinals after beating Marton Fucsovics in straight sets. He’ll now play Denis Shapovalov who beat Karen Khachanov in a five set thriller.

Hurkacz will play Matteo Berrettini in the last four. The Italian beat Felix Auger Aliassime in four sets to reach his first Wimbledon semi-final.

Cycling - Wout van Aert has won stage 11 of the Tour de France as race leader Tadej Pogacar showed some signs of vulnerability. The Belgian dominated a double ascent of Mount Ventoux to finish 1 minute 14 seconds ahead of Kenny Elissonde. Pogacar retains the yellow jersey and is 5 minutes 18 seconds ahead of Rigoberto Uran. Today’s 12th stage is 159.4 kilometres between Saint Paul Trois Chateaux and Nimes and will give the climbers a break after yesterday’s exertions. Mark Cavendish could equal the all time record for stage victories set by the Belgian legend Eddie Merckx.

Cricket – A completely new look England side will face Pakistan in the first one-day International in Cardiff later. Ben Stokes will captain the side which could include up to 9 uncapped players after the squad had to be completely re-chosen owing to coronavirus infections. Play starts at 2 pm French time.

Rugby Union – Two British and Irish Lions players are isolating after one of the management team tested positive for coronavirus. Players are isolating at the team hotel and management say that all members of the touring policy have since been tested.

Meanwhile the match between South Africa and Georgia on Friday has had to be cancelled because of coronavirus cases in both squads. The development is unwelcome for both the Springboks and the Lions as they prepare for the Test series which starts on the 24th of July. The Lions thrashed Cell C Sharks 54-7 in their latest tour match in Johannesburg last night.

Weather

Clear skies in coastal areas, some thunder in the mountains later. Moderate westerly winds across the Var and highs of 27-32 degrees. Overnight lows of 21-22 degrees with clear skies.

Friday and the start of the weekend - Clear skies with highs of 26-29 degrees.

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