French and Riviera News Tuesday 20th February 2024

National News France

Is it the end of a lifetime driving license in France? - Discussions are taking place at a European level which could possibly see the end to a lifetime driving license in France. The aim is to impose a medical examination from a certain age in order to keep your driving license. In some other European countries, a medical examination from a certain age is already required. For example, in the Netherlands, from the age of 75, motorists must have a medical examination every 5 years. In Denmark and Finland, it’s from the age of 70 and in Spain, Greece, and the Czech Republic 65. Italy requires a medical examination from the age of 50. But it is Portugal which has the strictest regulations, with checks on the ability to drive at several stages of life: from 40 years old, then at 50, 65 and 75 years old. An online petition in France from the Drivers' Defense League association has already collected more than 400,000 signatures against this European project.

Stormy weather for parts of France - Météo France has warned of unstable weather in France and throughout Western Europe for the end of this week. The forecast warns of an unsettled weekend with gale force winds and heavy rain in the Southwest regions.

Local News

Angry farmers - 200 farmers in Marseille have said they intend to “keep up the pressure” on the French government ahead of this weekend’s Agricultural Show in Paris. Monday saw parts of the city centre blocked by protests. Despite Prime Minister Gabriel Attal's announcements a few weeks ago farmers are still angry and continue to express their frustration.

“Far right wants to take control of borders”, declares party leader while visiting Menton - Jordan Bardella, president of the far-right national rally political party in France has declared that “they want to take control of the borders”. Bardella made the remark whilst visiting Menton and the Italian border on Monday. While some of the crowd praised the party for their “clear and sound measures in terms of immigration” others in particularly Cedric Herrou, a farmer from the Roya Valley who is known for helping migrants, shouted “murderer, go home” accusing the party representative of being responsible for those that have drowned in the Mediterranean. In response Bardella, surrounded by police, accused Herrou of “participating in a smugglers' mafia, before adding that M.Herrou's opinion is a minority in France and particularly here in the Alpes-Maritimes".

Restaurants and Bars in Marseille losing business due to early closure of metro - Restaurants and Bars in Marseilles have claimed that they are losing business due to the “metro” underground, closing at 9.30pm. The nighttime closure four days a week from 9.30pm, was put in place to prepare for the installation of new trains and the removal of several hundred parking spaces. But the early closing time has led to the city centre being deserted and bars and restaurants during the week losing between 20 to 30% of their business.

First European paracetamol factory in Toulouse - The first European paracetamol factory will open in Toulouse at the start of 2025. The company will set up in the south of the city and plans to market up to 4,000 tonnes of paracetamol by next year. The last European paracetamol factory closed in 2009, due to foreign competition and production costs. Since then, 85% of its active ingredient was imported from Asia or the United States. Establishing its manufacturing in France will make it possible to limit, shortages.

Vaucluse region remains the 5th poorest department in mainland France - Latest figures from INSEE show that the Vaucluse region remains the 5th poorest department in mainland France. The region which includes the towns of  Avignon,Orange, Cavaillon and Carpentras shows that those under 30 years of age suffer the most, with more than one in four living below the poverty line.

Exceptional jackpot at the casino in Monaco - An exceptional jackpot has been won at the Café de Paris casino in Monaco. The Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco announced on Friday 16th February that a customer at the Café de Paris casino had won an exceptional jackpot a few days earlier making it one of the largest in the history of jackpots paid on the Côte d'Azur. It was on one of the 480 slot machines at the Café de Paris casino that the lucky customer won 650,279 euros.

The famous blue chairs – Finally, the promenade des anglaise was high with emotion on Monday as inventor and artist Stéphane Belgrand Rousson presented a new version of the famous blue chair. Rousson assured the loyal blue chair users present that his intention was not to replace the famous chair, but to add a new model for places where there are no chairs such as between the Palais de la Méditerranée and the airport. There are only 300 chairs currently left on the Prom’ while more than 2,000 were made in the 1990s. However, for the moment, the City council has no plans to acquire these latest models.

Business

According to official figures Israel's economy shrank by far more than expected in the wake of conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 19% on an annualised basis in the fourth quarter of 2023. That is the equivalent of a fall of 5% between October and December. Israel and Hamas have been at war after gunmen from the Palestinian group launched an unprecedented attack on Israel from Gaza.

Unions and associations which defend women’s rights have called for strike action on March the 8th. To mark International Women's Rights Day, feminist associations and unions are calling for general mobilization to obtain "actions" from the government. According to a press release today, the idea is "that women (and men too) stop all paid activities, all domestic tasks such as childcare, cleaning, cooking, and consumption to bring society to a standstill and to demonstrate that women are an essential cog in society".  It was on March 8th, 2018, that a feminist strike in Spain led to a two-hour work stoppage by 5.9 million workers in the country. The walkout was inspired by a similar movement in 1975 in Iceland when 90% of Icelandic women took part in a day of work stoppage which opened the way to major advances in equality between men and women in the country.

And - Brussels has announced an investigation targeting the social network platform Tiktok for alleged failings in the protection of minors. The move is the second procedure of this type under new European rules following the investigation into X (formerly known as Twitter) in December. The European Commission has opened “a formal procedure” to determine whether Tiktok infringed the Digital Services Regulation (DSA) in particular with concerns towards "the protection of minors", "the transparency of advertising", "access to data for researchers" as well as the "risks linked to the addictive design" of the platform and “harmful content”. TikTok has more than 134 million monthly users in the European Union.

Sport

Football – It was a 1-1 draw in the Premier League match last night between Everton and Crystal Palace. The result took Everton up to 17th, above Luton on goal difference. This evening Manchester City are at home to Brentford.

Rugby Union - Scotland have recalled Hamish Watson to their squad for the Six Nations match against England. Watson, a British and Irish Lion in 2021, was left out of the squad for the opening two matches in this year's championship. England have won both of their matches so far, against Italy in Rome and against Wales at Twickenham. Meanwhile, Scotland held on to beat Wales in Cardiff in their opening match and were then edged out by France at Murrayfield. Scotland face England on Saturday 24th February, kick off is at 5.45pm French time.

Tennis - British number one Cameron Norrie started the defence of his ATP Rio Open title with a routine 6-3 6-2 win over Bolivian Hugo Dellien in Brazil.

Weather

Mainly fine with a gentle breeze. Highs of 15 degrees in Monaco and Saint-Paul de Vence, 17 degrees in Menton, Nice and Cannes. 16 degrees in Saint-Tropez. This evening going down to 7 degrees along the coast and 3 degrees inland.

The outlook for tomorrow and Thursday. Fine and sunny tomorrow with highs of 17 degrees. Thursday, showers are forecast with moderate winds and feeling cooler with highs of 14 degrees.

Sunrise       07.22

Sunset        06.06

Sea Temperature Monaco 14.6 degrees.

Weather elsewhere

London      14° light cloud.                      Liverpool   13° light cloud.

Paris           13° sunny intervals.              Rome         19° sunny.

Lyon           13° sunny intervals.              Oslo            0°   hail.

Athens       16° sunny intervals.              Sydney       22° light rain.     

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