French and Riviera News Tuesday 16th April 2024

Record winter for Riviera ski resorts - The Riviera's ski resorts are celebrating a record winter season. Auron and Isola 2000 closed this weekend, with some of the last people visiting in their T-shirts in 20-degree heat. According to provisional estimates, between them, the Mercantour ski resorts recorded 600,000 skiing days since the season began - which management describe as the best result in many years. Valberg, which closed at the start of April, also recorded a 10% visitor increase. It was a slow start to the winter, due to a lack of snow, and several landslides and avalanche alerts made access difficult at times. Hotels in the Alpes-Maritimes ski resorts recorded an average occupancy rate of 62% - that's up from 60% last year.

Positive year for Monte-Carlo Masters - Meanwhile, organisers of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters have announced this year's tournament, which has just finished, attracted record visitor numbers. Despite two days of rain, more than 140,000 people attended the Monte-Carlo Country Club - breaking last year's record. Plans are already under way for the 2025 edition, with one important change. It's been announced that an electronic detection system will replace the linesmen on each court from next year.

Several April heat records broken - In other local news, several heat records for this time of year have been broken in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var over the weekend. Lantosque recorded 28.5°C, its warmest April temperature since 2012. 27.6°C was registered in Valbonne and 26.4°C in Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée. In the Var, an April record of 30.5°C was recorded in Le Cannet-des-Maures and 31.8°C in Cotignac.

Nice terror appeal to begin in Paris next week - The appeals trial over the 14 July 2016 terror attack in Nice opens in Paris next week. Two of the eight men who were convicted in the initial trial in December 2022 are appealing against their 18-year prison sentences for association with a terrorist group. Prosecutors accuse them of participating in the truck driver's plans to commit an attack and providing material and moral support. Their appeal lawyers are seeking their acquittal. 86 people were killed and more than 450 injured when a 19-tonne truck rammed through the crowds on the Promenade des Anglais during the fireworks display for France's national day in 2016. It was the second deadliest terror attack in mainland France, after the November 2015 attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis.

Nice's 10 poorest districts to get support - The Nice Côte d'Azur metropolitan area has agreed on a list of 10 priority neighbourhoods that will receive new investment to improve social inequalities. The neighbourhoods, which are among the region's poorest, will receive priority funding between now and 2030. They have a combined population of 50,000 and include parts of Nice city centre, Las Planas, Paillon, Les Moulins, Carros, Sainte-André-de-la-Roche, Vence, La Trinité and Drap. Being recognised as a priority neighbourhood opens up greater access to subsidies to fund youth projects, assistance in parenthood, tackling unemployment and the fight against crime. This year alone, various non-profit associations in the affected areas will receive almost €850,000 in funding.

Monaco scam phone calls warning - The Monegasque government has warned of a growing number of scam phone calls from people posing as lawyers and police officers. Monaco residents are being targeted by scammers, who mainly target elderly and vulnerable people. They make up a story about one of the victim's friends or relatives being the victim of a road accident and build up their trust to get them to part with money. Two victims have recently been conned out of a total of €600,000. The calls are generally made from abroad, from a hidden number. Anyone in Monaco who believes they've been on the receiving end of a scam phone call should call the police on 93 15 30 15.

Spanish pilots fly into military airspace by mistake - The French air force has intercepted and diverted two light aircraft that had accidentally strayed into prohibited military airspace in Toulon. The two microlights set alarm bells ringing when they flew close to the Toulon arsenal. An Air Force helicopter ordered them to change course and land at Cuers-Pierrefeu aerodrome. Their planes were thoroughly searched by gendarmes. The pilots, both Spanish, said it was an honest mistake. However, they risk a heavy fine and possible legal action.

Poker action in Cannes - There are straight faces all over Cannes at the moment as 675 of the world's best poker players are in town. The World Series of Poker Circuit has taken up residence in the Casino Croisette for 10 days of competition, with 12 tournaments and games taking place simultaneously across 44 poker tables.

BUSINESS

Tesla will lay off more than 10% of its global electric vehicle workforce. In a memo, billionaire owner Elon Musk told staff there was nothing he hated more, "but it must be done". The world's largest auto-maker by market value had 140,473 employees globally as of December, according to its latest annual report. The company is set to report its quarterly earnings later this month but has already reported a decline in vehicle deliveries in the first quarter, its first in nearly four years and also below market expectations.

US retail sales were stronger than expected last month, as the American economy continues to show resilience. Retail sales rose by 0.7% month-on-month in March, and were 4% higher than in March 2023, according to the US Census bureau. Spending at online shops was up 11.3% year-on-year, while takings at food services and drinking places were 6.5% higher than in March 2023.

And airline passengers are facing cancellations or disruption to flights to Israel and surrounding countries after Iran's airstrikes at the weekend. EasyJet has suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv up to and including Sunday, 21 April. Wizz Air said it would resume journeys to Israel today after stopping flights to Tel Aviv on Sunday and Monday. Israel closed its airspace on Saturday evening after Iran launched its first-ever direct assault on the country. Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel in retaliation for a strike on Tehran's consulate in Damascus on 1 April, which killed a number of senior Iranian commanders.

SPORT

Cricket - Derek Underwood, one of England and Kent's greatest ever bowlers, has died at the age of 78. Slow left-armer Underwood took 297 wickets in 86 Tests between 1966 and 1982, the most by any England spinner. He claimed 2,465 wickets in 676 first-class matches overall, representing only Kent, the county of his birth, in a stellar 24-year domestic career. Underwood was appointed an MBE in 1981 and was president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in 2009. He was one of 55 inaugural members inducted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame when it launched in 2009.

Football - Everton have lodged a formal appeal against their second points deduction for breaching the Premier League's financial rules. The Toffees had a 10-point deduction reduced to six on appeal in February for the three-year period to 2021-22. The latest appeal process must be concluded by 24 May, five days after the final Premier League game. Sean Dyche's side sit 16th in the table, two points above the drop zone. Profit and sustainability rules permit clubs to lose £105m over three years and an independent commission found Everton breached that by £16.6m for the three-year period to 2022-23.

Athletics - Mykolas Alekna produced a throw of 74.35m in the discus to break the longest-standing men's world record. The Lithuanian's fifth effort at a meet in Oklahoma was initially measured at 74.41m but later revised down by six cm. The new record broke that set by German Jurgen Schult, who threw 74.08m in 1986. World Athletics said the throw by Alkena was subject to the usual ratification process. The 21-year-old won silver and bronze at the 2022 and 2023 world championships respectively. His father Virgilijus was Olympic discus champion in both 2000 and 2004, throwing 73.88m in 2000.

WEATHER

A fine and sunny day across the Riviera, but with some strong winds, especially in the Var, gusting up to 75 kilometres per hour. Temperatures this afternoon getting up to 23 degrees celsius on the coast and inland in the Alpes-Maritimes. A bit cooler inland in the Var where temperatures should reach 19 degrees celsius. Clear skies tonight, still with those strong winds, temperatures overnight going down to 14 on the coast and 11 inland. The outlook for Wednesday: fine and sunny again, still windy in the Var, a bit cooler than today with temperatures peaking at 19 degrees celsius.

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