French and Riviera News Tuesday 24th January 2023

National

French government to push ahead with pension reform - The French government has vowed to push ahead with the contested pension reform, saying there would be no stepping back on the proposed retirement age of 64. In a press conference held after Monday’s cabinet meeting France’s Labour Minister said "If we go back on the age question, then we go back on the promise to balance the finances of the pension system by 2030 and that would be to fail in our duty to future generations”. Apart from increasing the retirement age gradually from 62 now to 64 by 2030, the bill would increase the minimum number of years people must pay into the system in order to get a full pension. Unions have announced another strike day on 31st January, warning that they are prepared to step up their actions if the government does not relent.

Sexism remains at an “alarming” level in France according to report - A report published on Monday by France's High Authority on Equality (HCE) has revealed that despite the #MeToo movement, sexism remains at an "alarming" level with many young men seeing discriminatory or violent behaviour against women as acceptable. The HCE described the situation as "alarming".  Based on a study of 2,500 people, the HCE found that while most respondents rejected sexism in principle, "they fail to reject it in practice". While there has been "undeniable progress in women's rights" the HCE found that five years after #MeToo "French society remains deeply sexist in all spheres" with sexist stereotypes and clichés proving hard to counter, particularly among the 25-34 age group.

Complaint filed against SNCF after cat is crushed by TGV - The “30 million friends Foundation” has announced that they are filing a complaint against the SNCF after the tragic death of Keno, a cat crushed by a TGV, in Montparnasse station, on January 2nd. The incident occurred when Keno managed to escape from the crate which she was being transported in, while travelling with her owner and the owner’s 15-year-old daughter from Paris to Bordeaux, taking refuge under the train. The SNCF is now the subject of a complaint for "serious abuse and acts of cruelty resulting in the death of an animal", specified 30 million friends in his tweet. Facts punishable by a fine of 75,000 euros and five years in prison.

Local

Influx of underage migrants in the Alpes Maritimes - Authorities have called for solidarity between departments as the Alpes Maritimes is currently dealing with a “record figure of underage migrants and can no longer cope “. 690 unaccompanied minors are currently cared for by the Alpe Maritimes Department. In recent weeks, the Italian coasts have seen an unusually high number of migrants disembark. "Since the beginning of the year, more than 3,800 migrants have landed on the Italian coasts, ten times more than in 2022 (386). This is mainly due to the mild weather at the start of the year favouring sea crossing conditions, at a usually off-peak period”. Most of these migrants take the road to Ventimiglia, then Menton, before extending their journey.

Pay tolls - The cost of driving along the A8 motorway through Nice will be frozen this year - while elsewhere on the motorway network, tolls are set to rise on 1st February. Vinci Autoroutes has promised not to increase the fee for cars and motorbikes at the Nice-Saint-Isidore tolls. It’ll remain €1.50 each way. Local MP Eric Ciotti wrote to the motorway operator earlier this month asking for the price freeze, as a gesture for people struggling with the rising cost of living. Many Nice residents use the A8 for short journeys, to get from one side of the city to the other. Ciotti believes it's unfair that locals should have to pay a toll to do so, while drivers in Paris, for example, can use the city's ring road free of charge.

Nice Airport - Nice Airport has bounced back after two terrible years for international travel due to the pandemic. New figures show Nice Côte d'Azur airport welcomed 12 million passengers last year. That's double the number achieved in 2021. After running at a reduced capacity during the coronavirus shutdowns, Terminal 1 at the airport reopened last March. Passenger numbers are still slightly down on the pre-pandemic figures seen in 2019. But there's optimism for this coming summer, with new routes - including to Atlanta, Georgia - and a new low-cost connection to London Gatwick.

Monaco elections - Monaco residents will head to the polls in mid-March to elect their mayor. Georges Marsan, who's been in the role since 2003, has confirmed he'll be a candidate again. He's seeking re-election for what would be a sixth term in office. Marsan has been a member of Monaco's municipal council since 1993.

Vineyards condemned for altering habitat of Hermann’s tortoises - Two vineyards in the Var have been condemned on appeal for having altered the habitat of Hermann's tortoises. The Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal confirmed the ecological damage caused by the Château de Berne, located in Flayosc, sentenced in 2021 in Draguignan for having altered the habitat of Hermann's tortoises. The sums to be paid by the two estates will go directly to the State, which will implement measures to protect the habitat of the turtles.  The decisions taken by the Criminal Court of Draguignan in September 2021 against the Château de Berne and then, two months later, the Château des Launes marked a turning point for environmental protection associations: for the first time, vineyards have been ordered to pay large sums in compensation for ecological damage.

Former French president to buy vineyard - Meanwhile, he doesn't drink - but former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is about to buy a vineyard in the Var as a business investment, in partnership with his wife, singer Carla Bruni. According to a trade newspaper specialising in the French wine industry, the former presidential couple are close to signing a deal to acquire the Domaine de Cantarelle, in partnership with several Saint-Tropez businesses specialising in leisure and luxury. This won't be Nicolas Sarkozy's first vineyard acquisition. He bought the 200-hectare Château Estoublon in the Bouches-du-Rhône last year.

French francs - Finally, if, after 21 years, paying for things in euros is still too much for you, an Antibes resident has helpfully found a parking meter that accepts French francs and nothing else. A disused area in the SNCF car park at Antibes railway station has a rusty, long-forgotten-about parking ticket machine from way back when, which has never been removed. An hour's parking will cost you 6 francs - that's just over a euro. Unfortunately, the machine is no longer in service. Today's rates have more than trebled - it's now €3.70 per hour. But you can now pay by card, which wasn't the case back then.

Business

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates has invested in an Australian climate technology start-up that plans to reduce the methane emissions of cow burps. Gates has in the past been outspoken about the environmental impact of meat production. Methane is the most common greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2). Livestock such as cows, goats and deer produce methane when their stomachs are breaking down hard fibres like grass for digestion. This fermentation process creates methane gas which is then mostly belched out again. University studies have shown that feeding cows seaweed could significantly cut their methane emissions.

Swedish music-streaming giant Spotify says it will cut 6% of its about 10,000 employees. Spotify has never posted a full-year net profit, despite its popularity in the online music market. It follows last week's announcements of losses at Microsoft and Alphabet. Alphabet, which owns Google, said it would shed 12,000 jobs, while Microsoft said up to 10,000 employees would lose their jobs.

And – In the UK Twitter is being sued by the Crown Estate amid allegations of unpaid rent at its London headquarters. The Crown Estate, which manages a property portfolio belonging to the monarchy, filed a case at the High Court last week. Twitter's office is based near Piccadilly Circus in central London. According to The Daily Telegraph, Twitter had signed a £2.6m-a-year lease for the third floor, but the dispute relates to be behind with the rent on the first floor in the same building. This isn't the first time that Twitter has faced allegations of unpaid rent at its offices. Twitter is yet to comment on the latest allegations made by the Crown Estate.

Sport

Football – In the Premier League Tottenham had a narrow win at Fulham last night beating them 1-0. Striker Harry Kane said a team meeting helped them get back on track. The England captain scored the only goal to equal Jimmy Greaves' record as Spurs' all-time top scorer with 266 goals. It was only Spurs' second Premier League win in six games and came after back-to-back losses against Arsenal and Manchester City.

Meanwhile, Frank Lampard is the latest manager to fall victim to the seemingly impossible job that is managing Everton. Sacked at Chelsea and now by Everton, it must be questioned whether he will get another crack at a high-profile job, or indeed whether he would even want one, after the manner of his departures from his past two posts.

This evening in the FA Cup third round replay Accrington Stanley are at home to Boreham Wood kick off is at 8.45pm French time and in the EFL Cup Southampton play Newcastle kick off is at 9pm French time.

Formula One – Mercedes driver 38-year-old Lewis Hamilton, has said that he had bananas thrown at him and was often the subject of racial abuse at school adding that his school days were "probably the most traumatising and most difficult part of his life". Speaking to the On Purpose podcast, the seven-time Formula 1 champion detailed a number of racially abusive terms that he was referred to at school. In recent years, Hamilton has embarked on a campaign to increase diversity in motorsport. He set up a commission to study why ethnic minorities are under-represented in the sport, established his Mission 44 campaign to look at ways of supporting young people from under-served backgrounds, and is working with Mercedes on increasing diversity within their team, and in F1. Hamilton embarks on his 17th season in F1 in March and is entering the final year of his latest Mercedes contract.

Athletics - World Athletics has proposed continuing to allow transgender women to compete in female international track and field events. A policy document suggesting the amendments has been sent to World Athletics' member federations as part of a consultation process before a vote in March. It comes despite other sports banning transgender women from participating in elite female competition amid concerns they have an unfair advantage. World Athletics has faced some criticism over its stance, but said it was "the best way to gather constructive feedback" and insisted a final decision had not yet been made.

Weather

Overcast to begin with this morning, improving during the day. Sunny intervals this afternoon with moderate winds. Highs of between 8-13 degrees in Monaco, Nice, Cannes and Antibes. In Saint-Tropez and the Var gusty winds with light rain highs of 13 degrees. This evening clear skies, light winds and going down to 6 degrees along the coast and -1 degree inland.

The outlook for Wednesday sunny intervals with a moderate wind and highs of 13 degrees. Thursday sunny with light winds and highs of 12-13 degrees.

Sunrise       07.55hr

Sunset        17.29hr

And Finally

A new study has suggested that adding just six minutes of intense daily exercise can boost brain power in middle age.  Researchers said that both moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is vital to help keep away declining brain function. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and boosts oxygen levels, which is thought to improve memory and mental processes such as planning and organisation.

 

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