French and Riviera News Tuesday 17th August 2021


Forest fire in the Var - (7am 17/08) - A forest fire has destroyed "more than 1,000 hectares" in Gonfaron in the Var. The fire has spread between the Massif des Maures and l’Esterel. 600 firefighters are mobilized. According to the prefecture, the fire broke out late on Monday afternoon at around 5.45pm, travelling nearly 12km in just a few hours and “quickly spreading due to the dry conditions and strong winds”. Four roads were closed on Monday evening in the direction of La Garde-Freinet and Grimaud. Today Tuesday 17th August all forest areas of the Bouches du Rhone are closed to the public, as are the massifs of Toulon.

In the early hours of this morning it was reported that the fire was continuing in the direction of Grimaud as residents of Le Luc were evacuated. The prefect of the Var arrived at the scene declaring the disaster “the first major fire of the season”. Currently, everything is being done to contain the blaze: “houses have been evacuated and people are confined". The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin is expected in the Var today "to follow the development of the fire”.

Pressure in hospitals in France due to covid - The fourth wave of covid is continuing to increase the pressure in hospitals in France. According to Public Health France the 10,000 mark has been passed with 10,151 people now hospitalised with covid, including 1,908 in intensive care. The figure also includes 950 new admissions in the last 24 hours. The last time France identified more than 10,000 patients was on June 22nd.

97 patients have died in hospital as a result of covid in the past 24 hours according to the public health France and 5,829 new cases were detected.

Holiday camp, children test positive for covid - Meanwhile in Brittany 77 children have tested positive for covid at a holiday centre. The children were part of a group of 173 children and adolescents, aged 6 to 17. Amongst the cases, 2 people had been vaccinated.

Early closure of the Promenade du Paillon in Nice - And in Nice the mayor Christian Estrosi has announced the early closure of the promenade du Paillon in the fight against the current health situation. The Paillon, which initially closed at 11pm, will now close earlier at 9pm.

Health pass checks – On the current health situation Estrosi has also recently criticized those mayors in the region who have refused to carry out checks on health passes calling it an attack on the State’s authority. Both the mayors of Villeneuve-Loubet and Fréjus have openly refused to have the health passes checked by the municipal police.

Afghanistan - French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he wants to protect Europe "from irregular migrants” after the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, while promising to "protect those who are most threatened". In his televised address on Monday August 16th, on the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have regained power, the Head of State said he wanted to carry a European initiative to protect against significant irregular migrants adding that "Europe, cannot on its own, assume the consequences of the current situation”. Macron’s comments created criticism from several political leaders and on Twitter the hashtag #EmmanuelLePen was shared.

Macron also announced the dispatch of two planes and special forces to secure the evacuations of French nationals and Afghans working for French structures. The President speaking from Fort Brégançon, in the Var, said that the return of the Taliban to the Afghan capital and more broadly throughout the country is "a historic turning point". Macron also referred to the "duty and dignity" of France which was to "protect" the Afghans who helped it and who are threatened by the arrival of the Taliban in power saying "it is France’s duty and dignity to protect those who helped us”.

Air pollution - The prefecture of the Alpes Maritimes has issued an air pollution alert advising people to limit physical activities as well as travel on major roads. The episode of fine particle pollution affected the region on Monday August 16th, especially along the coast. The situation, considered “bad” by AtmoSud, should gradually improve today Tuesday 17th August.

Celebrities call for an end online ads and shop sales of pets - A number of celebrities in France have called for an end to online ads and shop sales of pets. In an open letter, published on the animal welfare group PETA website, actors and singers including David Hallyday and Jacques Dutronc, have called on the French government to do more to put an end to the sale o