French and Riviera News Tuesday 29th August 2023

With the rentrée fast approaching, the French government has announced a range of changes affecting school pupils from September. Education minister Gabriel Attal said the baccalaureate specialty tests, which were introduced in March this year, will now be held in June to give students more time to prepare. Other measures include a new interministerial plan to tackle school harassment, new national assessments in French and maths for nine and 13-year-olds and compulsory maths in the first year of lycée. The government has also announced a ban on the wearing of the abaya - the long traditional dress worn by some Muslim students.
Gabriel Attal said the garment was a breach of French laws on secularism in schools. Pupils go back to school in France next Monday. In Monaco, most schools resume a week later.

Paris will this week become one of the only cities in Europe with an outright ban on rented e-scooters. Despite previously expressing hopes for a last-minute reprieve, the three firms with e-scooter operating licences in the French capital, Lime, Dott and Tier, have all confirmed that they will have removed their scooters, or trottinettes, by the 1st September deadline. They had a combined fleet of roughly 15,000 e-scooters in the city. A referendum held in April gave Parisians two choices regarding the rental scooters: for or against. Companies pointed out that the turnout represented just 7% of those eligible to vote.

Saint-Tropez has been named as one of the towns in France that will be allowed to charge higher taxes on second homes - and apply a tax on vacant housing. The French government has published a decree listing all 2,000 municipalities around the country, each with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants, where there is said to be an "imbalance" between housing supply and demand. It means Saint-Tropez can now choose, if it wishes, to increase its property tax rates for second-home owners, or anyone who leaves a property vacant. The aim is to dissuade property owners from putting their accommodation up for rent on platforms such as Airbnb - and put them back on the market instead.

Sir Elton John was taken to hospital in Monaco on Sunday night after suffering a fall at his home in Mont-Boron in Nice. It's reported that the 76-year-old suffered minor injuries. He was taken to the orthopedic department at Princess Grace hospital and several scans were carried out, which showed no sign of any fractured bones.

A tremor measuring 2.3 on the Richter scale was recorded on Sunday night off the coast of the Alpes-Maritimes, between the Côte d'Azur and Corsica. It's the third of its kind in recent months. Two other small earthquakes were recorded in July in the same area, measuring 1.9 and 2.7 respectively.

A landslide in the Savoie department, which has cut off a major access route from the French Alps into Italy, could have a knock-on effect on traffic on the Riviera. The rockfall in the Maurienne valley means SNCF services between Chambéry and Turin are not running until at least Thursday. Road traffic was also blocked. The Savoie préfecture has urged drivers of coaches and heavy goods vehicles to instead go via the Mont Blanc tunnel, or take the A8 motorway through the Alpes-Maritimes to reach Italy.

Nice's municipal street cleaners are out in force working to try to keep the city's rubbish problems under control. In Nice Old Town alone, a team of 20 cleaners work shifts around the clock, with some starting as early as 2am to tackle the waste generated from the neighbourhood's bustling nightlife. On an average day in the height of the summer tourist season, the street cleaning team in Nice Old Town pick up almost 20 tonnes of waste - and some bins in the old town need emptying up to eight times a day.

If the last few days have felt particularly wet on the Riviera, the stats from Météo France confirm it. Between 2am and 3am yesterday morning, 28.3 millimetres of rain fell in Nice - that's the amount we normally see in a whole month. Over a 24-hour period, Sunday was the wettest day on the Côte d'Azur since 8th January, with 46.9 millimetres. In Menton, 38.1 millimetres of rain fell over 24 hours.


The extent of China’s economic slowdown is set to be laid bare this week. Corporate earnings reports are forecast to show poor performance - and companies are expected to downgrade their outlooks, particularly in sectors with heavy exposure to the real estate industry. Earnings will also provide vital data for global markets. China’s publication of economic statistics is coming under greater scrutiny following Beijing’s decision this month to halt the release of data on youth unemployment.


Football - The mother of Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales has gone on a hunger strike because of the "inhuman hunt" against her son. There has been widespread criticism of Rubiales, 46, after he kissed forward Jenni Hermoso on the lips following Spain's Women's World Cup final win. His mother has now locked herself in a church. She told Spanish news agency EFE the strike would continue "indefinite, day and night". Hermoso, 33, said the kiss during the presentation ceremony in Sydney on 20 August was not consensual. Rubiales was suspended by world football's governing body Fifa on Saturday.

Brighton are closing in on the signing of Lille midfielder Carlos Baleba. The 19-year-old Cameroon-born midfielder only made his Lille debut 12 months ago but has forged an impressive reputation. Baleba was on the bench for Lille’s 4-1 defeat by Lorient on Sunday.

Gymnastics - Canadian Olympic figure skater Alexandra Paul has died in a car accident aged 31. She was killed when a truck crashed into a number of stationary vehicles in Ontario. She was a "shining star on and off the ice" who left an "indelible mark" on the world of figure skating, Skate Canada said. During her career, she won a silver medal at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in 2010 and represented Canada at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Alongside her partner and husband, Mitchell Islam, she won multiple international medals before retiring from competitive skating in 2016.


Some occasional rain is still forecast for the Alpes-Maritimes until lunchtime, but it should clear to leave a generally pleasant afternoon across the Riviera - fine and sunny in the Var with a Mistral blowing and temperatures up to 26 degrees celsius, sunny spells with light cloud in the Alpes-Maritimes and 24 degrees. Generally clear skies overnight except further inland in the Alpes-Maritimes where there's some more light rain forecast tonight. Overnight temperatures going down to 19 on the coast and 16 further inland. The outlook for Wednesday: generally fine and sunny, still some light rain inland in the Alpes-Maritimes, temperatures getting up to 27 degrees celsius.


On the beach this afternoon in Nice we should have sunny spells, staying dry, temperatures reaching 24 degrees celsius with light winds, 10 kilometres per hour. The sea temperature is 24 and the UV index is 5.
In Saint-Tropez, it should be sunny, 26 degrees celsius, but with some strong winds gusting up to 45 kilometres per hour. The water temperature is 23 degrees celsius and the UV index is 6.

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