French and Riviera News Tuesday 28th March 2023

News

Strike - Trains are expected to be heavily disrupted today Tuesday 28th March and tomorrow Wednesday 29th March, due to strike action against the pension reform. However, the region’s bus and tram network Lignes d’Azur has announced a normal service despite the industrial action. France's civil aviation authority has told airlines at Paris Orly airport, as well as Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse airports, to cancel 20 percent of flights both today and tomorrow. According to the Paris public transport operator RATP, metros and suburban trains will be "badly disrupted".

About one third of primary schoolteachers have announced their intention to strike. Rubbish collectors in the French capital are continuing strike action, with close to 8,000 tonnes of rubbish piled up in the streets. Nearly 240 rallies and demonstrations are organized across the country.  The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced on Monday that "13,000 police and gendarmes" will be deployed throughout France to cover the demonstrations, 5,500 of them will be deployed in Paris, where the last demonstration was particularly violent.

Last Thursday’s strike action saw a record mobilisation in Nice where according to unions 40,000 demonstrators gathered and 4,200 people according to the prefecture. Today two demonstrations are planned: the first in Nice at 10am in front of the train station with the procession heading onto Avenue Jean Médecin, Boulevard Jean-Jaures and Place Garibaldi before ending on the port, Place Ile de Beauté. The second is at 2pm in front of the town hall of Le Cannet.

Hashtag “Be more French” - Meanwhile, as the strikes against the pension reform continue this week in France, a hashtag "Be more French" has emerged across the Channel. On Twitter, the hashtag #BeMoreFrench appeared above some videos from the recent violence linked to the protests. In Saint-Etienne, for example, you see a full restaurant and customers quietly eating while the street seems to be on fire. Another video shows a couple seated at a cafe terrace while firecrackers are thrown into a fire lit on the road. Again, the quiet discussion over a glass of wine visibly made Internet users laugh. The hashtag has led the British to praise the fight of the French for their social rights, within the framework of the pension reform and #BeMoreFrench peaked at 35,000 hits.  It must be said that in the United Kingdom, the retirement age is set at 66 and could rise to 67 in 2027. One French journalist has remarked that indeed “in a country hit hard by political scandals and inflation, France appears to some as a model of resistance for the UK” adding that “even the Conservatives seem to be eyeing France. In a remarkable column in the conservative newspaper The Telegraph, the editorialist Sam Brodbeck assures that on the question of pensions, “we should all be more French”.

Popularity of French President is at its lowest - French President Emmanuel Macron has never been so unpopular with his popularity rating plummeting by 6 points in March compared to February, according to a BVA poll for RTL published on Monday 27 March. This is the lowest level reached by the Head of State since November 2018 and the start of the yellow vests crisis. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also lost two points in one month, with 28% of respondents saying they have a good opinion of her actions.

Petrol supplies - Two petrol stations in the Alpes-Maritimes have been requisitioned by the préfecture and reserved exclusively for priority vehicles, as fuel supply problems continue. The Total at Parc Impérial in Nice, and the Total on Boulevard du Riou in Cannes, can now only be used by emergency vehicles, medical professionals, post and electricity vans, funeral vehicles and taxis. In the Var, five petrol stations had already been requisitioned - and in the Bouches-du-Rhône, where fuel supplies are particularly tense, 12 stations have been reserved for priority vehicles. In the Alpes-Maritimes today, 18 petrol stations have run dry and another 14 are partially out of stock. Throughout the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, sales of petrol remain capped at 30 litres per person - and 120 litres for heavy goods vehicles.

Covid cases on the rise - Coronavirus cases are on the rise again in the Paca region, according to the latest figures from Public Health France. The incidence rate in the region currently stands at 64 confirmed new cases per 100,000 inhabitants - that's up from 54 a week earlier. While it's still a long way from the peaks seen in 2020 and 2021, the increase comes amid a context of significantly lower levels of testing. The rise is particularly prevalent among under-15s and people aged 30-44. Hospitalisations remain very low, thanks to the widespread rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and boosters.

Best baguette - The results are in - and we now know where to find the best baguette in the Alpes-Maritimes. About 30 bakers from all over the department submitted two loaves of bread for judging by a jury at the local artisan baker awards. Coming first was the Atelier du Pain in Saint-André-de-la-Roche. The top three was completed by two bakeries in Nice: Jean-Marc Bordonnat on Rue Barla, and the Merveilles du Fournil in the Le Ray district. They'll go on to the regional heats next month, with the hope of reaching the national finals in Paris in May.

Animal march - Finally, dozens of different breeds of dog took part in the Animal March through Nice at the weekend. Cats, rabbits, two llamas and several donkeys also joined the procession along the Promenade des Anglais. It was the second edition of what is planned to become an annual event. Animal-owners of Nice had been invited to join the march from the I Love Nice statue to the Negresco. The event aims to promote animal wellbeing in the city, which has twice been voted the best place in France to own a dog, according to the magazine for pet-lovers, 30 Millions d'Amis.

Business

US regulators are seeking to ban Binance, the world's largest crypto trading platform, alleging that the firm has been operating in the country illegally. The lawsuit from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said the firm cultivated US business while failing to register properly with authorities. It accused Binance of breaking numerous US financial laws. Binance defended its practices.

British Airways is cancelling around 32 flights a day to and from Heathrow Airport at the start of the Easter holidays. The move is due to a planned 10-day strike by 1,400 Heathrow security workers in the Unite union, who are taking action in a dispute over pay. BA said it had offered a range of options to affected customers. The walkout is due to start on 31st March and end on 9th April. Talks last week failed to avert the action. BA has been told by the airport to reduce its schedule on those days by 5% and has stopped selling tickets.

In the UK plans for a government backed non-fungible token (NFT) produced by the Royal Mint have been dropped. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ordered the creation of a "NFT for Britain" that could be traded online, while chancellor in April 2022. NFTs are assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold, but which have no physical form of their own. The Treasury announced it was "not proceeding with the launch" following a consultation with the Royal Mint.

And - Elon Musk has announced a shake-up of Twitters’ paid verification feature Twitter Blue. From April 15th only paying subscribers will have posts recommended to other users and be allowed to vote in polls. Under the policy, posts from non-paying accounts will not be included in the "For you" stream of recommended tweets. Last week, the firm said it would remove the verified status of some "legacy" accounts, which date from before Mr Musk bought the firm. Users currently pay $7 (£5.70) a month for blue-tick verification, which also allows access to additional features.

Sport

Football – While France and Ireland may be the two nations which are ranked No 1 and No 2 in the rugby union world rankings it’s not the same in football as the Republic of Ireland made a losing start to Euro 2024 qualifying on Monday night as Benjamin Pavard's superb second-half goal gave France a 1-0 victory in Dublin.

In this evening’s qualifying matches Scotland play Spain in Group A and Wales face Latvia in Group D.

Tennis - Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina is through to the Miami Open quarter-finals after beating Elise Mertens in straight sets. Rybakina is now unbeaten in 11 matches, while victory in Miami would see her achieve the rare 'Sunshine Double' following her title win at Indian Wells earlier in March. She will play Italy's Martina Trevisan in the last eight.

Weather

Sunny with a gentle breeze. Highs of 15 degrees in Monaco, Nice, Vence, Mougins and Saint-Tropez, 17 degrees in Cannes. 16 degrees in Marseille and Toulon. This evening going down to 7 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for tomorrow and Thursday. Fine and sunny highs of between 16-17 degrees.

Sunrise       07.19am

Sunset        07.51pm

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