French and Riviera News Tuesday 23rd August 2022

Local News

Rise in people using food banks - Food banks and other charities on the Riviera have reported an alarming rise in the number of people seeking their help with the cost-of-living crisis. They warn that the back-to-school bonus paid to families at this time of year won't be used to cover school supplies, but to pay essential bills. And they fear the matter will only get worse as winter approaches. Consumer price inflation in France currently stands at 6%. The Alpes-Maritimes and Var branches of the Restos du Coeur say they have seen a 40% increase in people needing their help since last year. The Secours Populaire says it is seeing fewer people make donations to its food banks. The Food Bank 06 charity estimates that almost one in five people in the Alpes-Maritimes live below the poverty line.

Nice most expensive student city - In related news, a new study suggests Nice is the most expensive student city in France after Paris. Student union UNEF has published its league table of the cost of living in major university cities around the country. It estimates that an average student in Nice needs to spend €1,114 per month to get by. Soaring rents in Nice - up almost 5% in a year - are the major contributing factor. The average student rent in the city is €629 per month. On the other hand, the cost of public transport has fallen slightly.

Var strengthens forest regulations - After the Bouches-du-Rhône, it's the turn of the Var to strengthen some of its rules to avoid forest fires. Eight of the department's nine main forest areas are now classified "orange" and are considered to be at severe risk. Visiting them is strongly discouraged and using mechanical equipment is banned except for essential agricultural and forestry work before 1pm. 

Cannes braced for flooding in autumn - Meanwhile, the city of Cannes is bracing itself for an autumn of potentially heavy rain and flash flooding. A major operation is under way to ensure that drains and gutters are clear of debris such as leaves and waste, to ensure that rainwater flows freely. It comes as French meteorologists are concerned that the long, hot summer of 2022 will lead to more extreme storm events than usual this year.

Two men detained in Nice - Two men were detained early on Monday morning after they were spotted on CCTV violently kicking another man in the head on Place Garibaldi in Nice. They fled the scene by tram and police were able to catch up with them. The pair face charges of aggravated violence. The victim was taken to hospital but is not said to be in a life-threatening condition.

Free access to public swimmings pools around Marseille and Aix-en-Provence extended - A decision to make every public swimming pool around Marseille and Aix-en-Provence free to use this summer has been extended. The initiative launched on 22nd July due to the hot weather. It's now been extended until the end of August. So far, 125,000 people have benefited from the free access.

Fish farm suffers major loss - The Var's only fish farm has suffered a major loss after tens of thousands of rainbow trout died when their water supply became contaminated. Les Truites du Paradou, near Carnoules, estimates the financial loss at about €40,000. The exact cause of the water pollution remains to be determined.

Bathing prohibited at Plage Marquet - The town hall in Cap d'Ail has issued a decree prohibiting bathing at Plage Marquet on a temporary basis until further notice. The decree is being made because of the quality of the bathing water.

Virgin Mary mystery solved - And we mentioned last week that a statue of the Virgin Mary had mysteriously disappeared from a remote spot on the Franco-Italian border, overlooking the Lac des Bresses in Valdeblore. Now it turns out it hasn't been stolen after all. The 80-centimetre-tall statue was donated to the municipality in 2008. Its previous owner has now taken it away for restoration work, with the commune's permission. A temporary statue will be put in its place while the restorations are completed.

Business

China's central bank has cut its mortgage lending rate as officials work to support the struggling economy. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) lowered the five-year loan prime rate (LPR) by 1.5 percentage points, which matches its biggest cut on record. The world's second largest economy faces a property crisis that has seen some building projects grind to a halt. Lockdowns due to the country's strict zero-Covid policies are also affecting businesses and consumers.

Cineworld has confirmed it is considering filing for bankruptcy in the US, as the cinema chain continues to struggle with $5bn worth of debt. But the company, which also owns the Picturehouse chain in the UK, insisted its cinemas "remain open for business" and that there would be "no significant impact" on jobs. Cineworld employs more than 28,000 people globally. Like other cinema chains, Cineworld was hit hard by the pandemic. Many theatres were forced to close for extended periods during the lockdowns, or had to operate at a reduced capacity due to social distancing rules.

Plans to enable British households to get discounts on electricity bills if they cut use at peak times are set to be announced in the next two weeks. The scheme would allow people to save cash if they avoid high-power activities, such as cooking or using washing machines, when demand is high. It is understood the service is likely to apply to homes which have smart meters installed. There are hopes it can be put in place this winter, when energy bills rise.

Sport

Boxing - A "historic" heavyweight unification fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will go ahead, according to Fury's promoter Frank Warren. Ukrainian Usyk retained his WBA, WBO and IBF titles with a split-decision win over Anthony Joshua on Saturday. This month WBC champion Fury said he would stay retired. After Usyk's win he said he "would annihilate him". Britain's Lennox Lewis was the last undisputed heavyweight champion after beating Evander Holyfield in 1999. Since 2007 the undisputed heavyweight championship has included the WBO title, and there has never been a fight where all four belts were on the line. Fury remains unbeaten after 33 fights. Usyk's unbeaten run currently stands at 20.

Cricket - England's schedule for three Test matches in Pakistan in December has been confirmed. Captain Ben Stokes' side will play three Tests in the second part of England's first tour of the country since 2005. England and Wales Cricket Board interim chief executive Clare Connor said it would be "an historic occasion". The tour's first leg will see England's men play seven Twenty20s in Pakistan from 20 September to 2 October.

Motorsport - Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has denied a charge of fraud over his alleged failure to declare overseas assets worth more than £400m. Ecclestone, 91, entered a not guilty plea as he appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court in London for a brief hearing on Monday. Prosecutors authorised a charge of fraud by false representation between July 2013 and October 2016 after British tax officials carried out a worldwide investigation into Ecclestone's finances. The business magnate was granted unconditional bail ahead of his next appearance at Southwark Crown Court on September 19th.

Weather

Another fine and sunny day with light winds from the south, temperatures up to 30 degrees celsius on the coast and 33 further inland. There's a chance of some light rain further inland in the Alpes-Maritimes this afternoon. Clear skies overnight, staying warm with temperatures around 22 on the coast and 18 inland.

The outlook for Wednesday: starting fine and sunny, clouding over a bit after lunch, still warm with temperatures around 29 on the coast and 33 inland in the Var.

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