French and Riviera News Tuesday 2nd January 2024

News

Dry January sparks political row in France - You may or may not have already started Dry January, but in France the movement has hit a brick wall and has become the centre of a political row, with reluctance from the French government to back it.  More than 45 professors of addiction studies signed a letter urging the French state to promote a month of abstinence from alcohol. The group of senior academics and doctors working on addiction wrote to the French health minister to say that not enough is being done by the state to campaign on alcohol risks, and that the government should support an alcohol-free month at the start of the year. Dry January, which started in the UK 10 years ago, was introduced to France in 2020 as the “defi de Janvier”, or January challenge, promoted by health charities. It has grown in popularity with more than 60% of French people wanting to try it in 2024, according to a BVA poll for the Association Addictions France, but the French state health body has not promoted dry January and politicians are reluctant to get onboard.

After the US, France is the second biggest consumer of wine in the world and French President Emmanuel Macron is seen within France as the most pro-alcohol president since the second world war, saying he drinks wine every day, at lunchtime and in the evening, and that a meal without wine was “a bit sad”.

The powerful French alcohol lobby argues that France is a nation that traditionally drinks in moderation, so the UK’s dry January month of abstinence is out of step with its culture and better suited to northern European binge-drinkers.

Weather warning for the north of France - Météo-France has placed ten departments in the north of France on an orange flood alert due to heavy rain. Just two months after the region was left devastated by floods in November, residents are faced with what could be another devasting episode as many were just recovering from the damage. The warning is in place for most of the day today and will affect in particular, the Pas-de-Calais, the Loire-Atlantique, and the Finistère with up to 60mm of rain expected in 24 hours.

Changes introduced on the 1st of January - As with the first of every month in France, January 1st, 2024, has seen several changes put in place; from an increase in the minimum wage and pensions, to a more profitable Housing Savings Plan the (PEL). Other changes will see the price of a stamp rise from 1 euro 16 cents to 1 euro 29 cents, along with an increase in the price of a packet of cigarettes. Gas bills should lower slightly and a new system, for those on the lowest incomes, will make it easier to buy an electric vehicle. You will also be allowed to get behind the wheel from the age of 17 in France and in addition minor speeding offences, will not result in points being deducted from your driving license. Finally, the French will be encouraged to "mend and not spend" in 2024 with the “repair bonus” for certain devices being doubled, reaching in some circumstances 60 euros for household appliances.

Man suffers heart attack at Casino in Cannes - A man in his sixties has died at the Casino in Cannes. The individual reportedly suffered a heart attack just before midnight on New Year’s Eve in the presence of his wife. Emergency services were quick to intervene but were unable to save the victim.

Young woman has a lucky escape after nearly fatal fall - A young woman has had a lucky escape after remaining unharmed despite falling nearly twenty metres from the Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban dam bridge in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on Monday, January 1st. The incident occurred at around 1:45pm. The woman in her twenties was airlifted to hospital in Marseille. An investigation has been opened.

Prince Albert II of Monaco message to the people of Monaco - In his message of New Year greetings, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has insisted on the importance for the Monegasque community of preserving its unity, to hand down to future generations. Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene recorded their New Year wishes to the population of Monaco, from the Prince's Palace ahead of their departure with their children Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, for a family cruise to discover the Antarctic continent. Prince Albert added that “the year ahead is full of challenges but also promises. It is up to us to mobilize and put all our energy into the service of peace, acceptance of others and solidarity.” The royal couple expressed their support and compassion “to all those who have been struck by mourning, grief, illness and loneliness”, wishing for 2024, to be a happy year, “of peace, joy and good health”. They ended with the traditional “happy new year” in French, English and Monegasque.

First baby of 2024 in the Alpes Maritimes – Finally, Camilla, is the first baby of 2024 born in the Alpes-Maritimes. Her parents welcomed the new arrival in Nice at just three minutes after the stroke of midnight. Camilla joins her two-year-older brother Leonardo and family which live in the Var region.

Business

Brad Smith the president of Microsoft has back tracked on negative comments which is made last year in which he claimed the UK was “bad for business”. Smith made the comments after the UK’s competition watchdog initially blocked Microsoft’s planned takeover of the gaming giant Activision Blizzard, saying that people’s confidence in the UK had been “severely shaken”. He now however, has said that the Competition and Markets Authority, which went on to approve the deal, was "tough and fair". In April last year, the CMA blocked Microsoft's acquisition of Activision over concerns it would reduce innovation and mean less choice for consumers in the fast-growing cloud gaming business. The regulator gave the deal the green light in October after Microsoft restructured its offer.

Latest data has shown that 2023 was a record year for the sale of electric cars in France, representing 16.8% of new car sales. Figures for 2022 showed they represented 13.3% of the market share.  In terms of models, Tesla dominates the electric market. The Dacia Spring is the second best-selling electric car followed further down the ranking, by the Fiat 500e and the Renault Mégane. However petrol models still remain in the lead with 36.2% of sales, just ahead of hybrids at 33.5%.

And - A job opportunity which was advertised as "the best job in the world" has attracted 2,500 applicants. The job which consisted of beer tasting for a brewery in Northern Ireland and offered free beer, chips and a taxi home attracted global interest. However, only a tiny proportion of the population has the genetic ability to do the job and be qualified as a super-taster according to the company. Only 12 applicants were successful in the end. The other 2,488 will just have to pay for their next pint.

Sport

Cycling - Tributes have been paid to former Olympic cyclist Melissa Hoskins, who died after she was hit by a car in Adelaide on Saturday. The 32-year-old represented Australia at two Olympic Games and was a world champion in the team pursuit in 2015. The Australian Olympic Committee confirmed Hoskins' death on social media platform X on Monday.

Darts – Dart’s sensation Luke Littler is just two victories away from winning the World Darts Championship on his debut at just 16 years old. Littler will this evening face Rob Cross in the semi-finals for a place in Wednesday night’s final at Alexandra Palace.

Football – Liverpool eventually scored and went on to beat Newcastle 4-2 in the Premier League at Anfield last night which means that they remain top of the table followed closely by Aston Villa. This evening in the Premier League West Ham are at home to Brighton. Kick off is at 08.30pm French time.

And according to reports both Liverpool and Real Madrid want Paris St-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe, who is out of contract at the end of the season. All eyes are on the 25-year-old France international, who is free to sign for another club this month.

Cricket - Australian batter David Warner, who played a pivotal role in helping Australia win the Cricket World Cup against India last year has announced his retirement from one-day international (ODI) cricket. The news comes in the lead-up to his final Test match. Warner had previously announced his retirement from Test cricket before an ongoing series with Pakistan. On Monday, Warner said his decision to also retire from ODI cricket was one he was "very, very comfortable with".

Rugby Union - Ulster claimed a famous win at the RDS as they beat Leinster in a United Rugby Championship contest in Dublin.

Tennis - Great Britain missed out on the United Cup quarter-finals as Australia qualified from Group C with a 2-1 victory over the United States.

Golf- Talks between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) over a potential merger will continue into 2024. They failed to reach agreement by the deadline of 31 December 2023.

Athletics - Kenya's Beatrice Chebet has broken the women's world 5km record at the road race in Barcelona. The 23-year-old crossed the line in 14 minutes 13 seconds,

Weather

Mostly cloudy with moderate to strong winds particularly in the Var region. Highs of 12 degrees in Monaco, 13 degrees in Nice, 14 degrees in Hyères and Marseille. This evening going down to 7 degrees with cloudy skies.

The outlook for tomorrow and Thursday. Sunny intervals tomorrow, highs of 15 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes. Cloudy conditions in the Var with highs of 16 degrees and moderate to strong winds. Thursday sunny with highs of 15 degrees, sunny intervals in the Var.

Sunrise                08.04am

Sunset                  05.05pm

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