French and Riviera News Tuesday 24th January 2023


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.


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 mun