French and Riviera News Tuesday 5th September 2023

Plan to improve train services along Riviera - A plan to make the Riviera's train services more reliable has been announced by the Paca regional council. Its president, Renaud Muselier, said that by the end of 2024, or early 2025, the aim is to have more frequent, and more spacious, trains along the mainline from Les Arcs to Ventimiglia. Trains would run every 15 minutes along the coast and the capacity of trains would be increased to try to tackle overcrowding. The first changes will be made next summer, when the Paca region wants to double the number of rail services running in the peak tourist season. The TER line along the coast is 150 years old and €600 million of track repair works are needed.

Public transport changes in Nice - Meanwhile, the new school year brings several changes to public transport in the Nice metropolitan area. Tram line 2, which connects the port with Nice airport and the centre administratif, will run with an increased frequency due to the addition of two extra vehicles. Ligne d'Azur bus line 98 will make a comeback this autumn. The line, which used to be the airport bus, will now serve the neighbourhood around Nice port, Garibaldi, the old town and Place Masséna. And the Train des Pignes will be running extra services, departing every 20 minutes, for commuters heading into Nice during the morning rush hour. Lignes d'Azur tickets will also be accepted on the train within the Nice area.

Local reaction to school uniform debate - The president of the Bouches-du-Rhône department has come out in favour of introducing uniforms in school. In a social media post to coincide with the new school year, Martine Vassal called for a consultation between students, parents and teachers. She believes a uniform could help establish a sense of collective identity among school pupils. She added that students' personal choice of clothing can lead to comparison, jealousy and even harassment and exclusion. The Aix-Marseille academy is also in favour of experimenting with uniform. Meanwhile, Les Republicains leader Eric Ciotti said at the weekend that he too was in favour of an experiment in some schools in the Alpes-Maritimes. It comes as the debate continues about France's ban on the abaya - the traditional long Muslim dress - in schools.

Help paying for energy bills this winter - The 100,000 least well-off households in the Paca region will receive a €250 energy cheque to help them pay their gas and electricity bills this winter. The president of the Paca region has announced the one-off payment, which is being financed by EU funds to the tune of €25 million. The financial support is intended for those on low incomes and single-parent families. Details of who is eligible and how to apply will be published on the Paca regional council website by mid-September. The payment will be made no later than mid-December.

November trial in Marseille vote fraud case - 14 people will appear in court in Marseille later this year for alleged voter fraud in the 2020 municipal elections. Prosecutors claim 194 votes were cast in the election, in favour of candidates from the Republicains party, using fraudulent proxy ballots. It's reported that 50 of the proxy votes were for residents of a retirement home in Marseille for people with mental disabilities, who did not realise that their vote was being used on their behalf. The director of the nursing home is among the 14 who will stand trial. Three elected officials in Marseille are also among the defendants. The trial will be held at the end of November.

Grasse casino ordered to close - The Victoria casino in Grasse has been shut down by the Alpes-Maritimes préfecture. The casino closed suddenly last Thursday. About a dozen employees at the casino have found themselves out of work and are reported to have had no news about what happens to them next. They had gone on strike earlier this summer to protest about working conditions. Last year, auditors had pointed to operational and management problems at the venue.

Roquebrune supermarket is France's most expensive - The most expensive supermarket in France can be found here on the Riviera, according to a new nationwide study. The Casino supermarket in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin was found to have the highest prices in the survey carried out by a retail marketing agency specialising in large retailers. It found that the west of France had the most competitive prices, while consumers on the Mediterranean coast paid the most. Casino management said the high rent on the premises was a contributing factor. But the study adds another possible explanation, saying that supermarkets adapt their prices based on the purchasing power of local residents. Richer neighbourhoods have more expensive supermarkets. According to the study, the cheapest supermarket in the Alpes-Maritimes is the Leclerc in La-Colle-sur-Loup, which is 11% cheaper than the national average.

BUSINESS

European stock markets hit a three-week high on Monday, lifted by optimism that China is taking steps to support its property sector, and the wider economy. The rally comes as China’s central government approved setting up a special bureau to promote the development and growth of the private economy. According to Reuters, the bureau will be responsible for devising policies to promote private companies and support their international competitiveness. It follows last Friday’s stimulus measures to boost China’s ailing property market and support a weakening yuan.

Dozens of workers at Starbucks in the US have filed unfair labour practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the coffee giant, alleging they were fired in retaliation for union organising. The Starbucks Workers United union has claimed that more than 200 workers have been fired since December 2021, and that several more have been pushed out in retaliation for union activity.

Apple's latest iPhone will almost certainly feature a USB-C charge point when it is unveiled on 12 September. The firm's phones currently use its proprietary Lightning adaptor, unlike rivals, including Samsung. A European Union law requires phone manufacturers to adopt a common charging connection by December 2024 to save consumers money and cut waste. Most new Apple products such as the latest iPads already use USB-C, but the firm had argued against the EU rule.

SPORT

Football - A 42-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault after an alleged incident during Arsenal's 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday. It follows the circulation of footage on social media showing Sky Sports pundits Micah Richards and Roy Keane involved in an altercation with an individual. Former United captain Keane was reportedly the alleged victim of the assault by a member of the public.

Formula 1 - Carlos Sainz has thanked Milanese police after he was reportedly the target of an attempted theft after Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. Reports suggest that the Ferrari driver and a bodyguard chased down thieves who targeted the Spaniard's watch. They were then helped by members of the public before the police arrived.

Boxing - Boxing trainer Brian McIntyre has been charged with possession of a firearm after a gun was found in luggage at Manchester Airport.
McIntyre trained Chris Eubank Jr for the Briton's rematch with Liam Smith on Saturday. He was arrested at the airport on Sunday as he prepared to board a flight back to the United States. McIntyre was remanded in custody by magistrates on Monday and is due appear at Manchester Crown Court next month.

Rugby Union - The Rugby World Cup kicks off in just three days - and the British sports analytics company Opta has used thousands of data points to call Ireland as the favourites to win, with France coming second. Using an artificial intelligence super-computer, it simulated the Rugby World Cup fixtures 10 million times, giving a percentage chance of each team winning the tournament. The predictions take into account recent form, historical success, pool and fixture difficulty, plus much more. Ireland have never made it past the quarter-final stage at the Rugby World Cup until now - but they're placed number one on the World Rugby rankings. The opening game of the Rugby World Cup is this Friday evening in Paris - between New Zealand and France.

WEATHER

Another fine and sunny day across the Côte d'Azur, a gentle breeze and temperatures this afternoon reaching 27 degrees celsius on the coast and 30 inland in the Var. Clear skies tonight, with temperatures going down to 20 degrees celsius on the coast and 17 further inland. The outlook for tomorrow: more of the same, fine and sunny, up to 29 degrees on the coast and 32 inland in the Var.

BEACH WEATHER

On the beach in Nice this afternoon, it'll be fine and sunny, 26 degrees celsius with a gentle breeze. The sea temperature is 24 degrees celsius and the UV index is 8. In Saint-Tropez, it'll also be fine and sunny, 27 degrees celsius with light winds. The water temperature is 23 degrees and the UV index is also 8.

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