French and Riviera News Tuesday 7th March 2023

News

Strike against pension reform - Trade unions in France are today preparing another clash with the French government over its controversial pension reform aiming to bring the country "to a standstill". More than 260 demonstrations are expected nationwide. Strikes will affect transport, the energy sector and public services. Teaching unions have said they expect 60% of primary school teachers to take part in the industrial action. Action by truck drivers, which has already begun, will have consequences on logistics operations at French supermarkets, according to unions. As far as transportation is concerned, trains are expected to be badly affected. Only one in five TGVs and Ouigo services nationally are expected to run. In our region it’s expected to be one in three. One out of five TER local trains are expected to run on average nationally, with significant local variations. No inter-city trains will operate, with just a handful of exceptions. Information is available on the SNCF Assistant App and on sncf.com. Demonstrations are planned across our region, including in Nice, starting at the Place Garibaldi, at the sub-prefecture in Draguignan and at the Place de la Liberte in Toulon. Police are expecting as many as 1.5 million people to hit the streets.

The industrial action comes as senators debating the pension reform bill voted against the advice of the government to create an "end-of-career" work contract to encourage employers to recruit people aged 60 and over.

Water restrictions due to drought - In other news, water restrictions are to be implemented in the Drôme and the Ardèche due to the drought alert. Both departments will locally join the Bouches-du-Rhône and the Var which have already been affected by restrictions due to a severe lack of rainfall this winter. According to data from the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM) 80% of underground water tables in mainland France were at levels below normal in February. Meanwhile the Alpes Maritimes and the Vaucluse have been placed on a vigilance alert, a stage prior to that of water restrictions. From mid-April the government is planning to remind the general public of the right gestures noting that a French person consumes an average of 149 litres of water per day. The situation will be closely monitored after the March 15th as Météo France has forecast rainfall between now and then.

Anti-inflation basket in French supermarkets - French economy minister Bruno Le Maire has announced what he has called an "anti-inflation quarter" in supermarkets, which will be in operation until June. The low-priced items will be chosen by distributors but will all bear a logo consisting of the French flag and the words "trimester anti-inflation". The minster said that the initiative will be financed by distributors from their margins and will cost them several hundred million euros. However, according to a representative of consumer group UFC Que Choisir who spoke to French media on Monday, there is no definition of a low price in the government's agreement with the distributors and goods could have already been sold at those prices.

Woman drowns in Le Pradet - In local news, a woman in her seventies has died after drowning in Le Pradet in the Var. The victim was found near the rocks near the small port in Le Pradet at around 4pm on Monday. She is believed to have suffered a heart attack while swimming in the sea. Passers by raised the alarm but despite efforts from rescuers they were unable to save victim who died on the spot. The temperature of the water on Monday reportedly did not exceed 13.8° degrees.

Road accident - Two motorcyclists have been injured in a collision on the Moyenne Corniche. At present the exact circumstances remain unclear. The incident occurred shortly after 6.30pm on Monday evening in Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Moyenne Corniche. Both men were taken to hospital. The police have opened an investigation to determine the exact circumstances of the collision.

Bar in Nice accused of discrimination at the door - The SOS Racisme association in Nice has accused a bar on the Quai des Etats-Unis of having refused entry to a couple of ethnic origin. The incident occurred on Friday March 3rd at 11:30pm when the couple showed up at the entrance of the establishment and were told it was “full” only for another couple to enter without a problem. The establishment has since defended its actions claiming that “it is impossible” and that there is “no discrimination at the entrance to the bar”.

Most beautiful market in France - The market of Garéoult in the Var has been chosen to represent the region for the most beautiful market in France competition. The results of the votes for the Alpes-Maritimes and Var saw Garéoult come first with 56% of the votes, far ahead of its competitors, with Menton coming second with 23% of the votes while the Lorgues market collected 6% of the votes. The new stage of the competition begins today with the launch of the regional vote, which will run until March 31st. To vote, go to the website https://tf1-et-vous.tf1.fr/. The national final will start on April 21st and will decide between the 24 markets still in the running. Then, from May 26th, the ten finalist markets will be broadcast on the lunchtime news on TF1 ahead of the final vote by a "super-jury" of six people, including three viewers and three members of TF1. The final result will be announced in June.

Five Padel Cup - The first edition of the “Five Padel Cup”, will be held from April 17th to the 19th bringing together personalities from the world of sport, including the Barbagiuans. The competition will take place in the idyllic setting of the Eze tennis club and will follow the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters which will be held from April 8th to 16th. Organized by a communication company based in Rome, the competition will experience its first edition this year.

Kylian Mbappé reaches new record on social media – Meanwhile, French footballer Kylian Mbappé has reached a new record on social media reaching 100 million subscribers on Instagram, a level of popularity never reached by a Frenchman. The footballer is currently in 36th position of the most followed Instagram accounts in the world. Among the French, footballer Karim Benzema has the most subscribers just behind Mbappé with 66.5 million, followed by Paul Pogba 57.3 million and Antoine Griezmann 38.9 million.

Michelin Guide 2023 - Finally, congratulations to the Chateau Eza which has joined the Michelin Guide France 2023 with their first star. Thirty-nine new restaurants will join the selection of the Michelin Guide France in 2023. Meanwhile, it was Claire Sonnet of the Louis XV - Alain Ducasse at the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco who won the guide’s service award. Alain Ducasse went in person to Strasbourg to receive the award for Sonnet, who has officiated at the establishment in Monaco for several years. Before leaving the stage with the award, Ducasse said "she's doing a terrific job”.

Business

Tesla has again, cut prices for its electric cars as it tries to boost sales and compete with rival firms. The reductions, worth several thousands of pounds, depending on the market and model, have been listed for sale on the company's website in the UK, US and elsewhere in recent days. They follow big markdowns of up to 20% that the firm introduced in January. Tesla is facing challenges as higher borrowing costs weigh on buyers and rivals offer more electric options.

Starbucks plans to open 100 new stores across the UK this year, while investing millions of pounds in upgrading existing cafes. It comes as the world's largest coffee chain reported a big jump in sales in the UK for 2022, continuing its recovery from the pandemic. Starbucks, which launched in the UK in 1998, has over 1,000 outlets in the country. The firm also plans to open 300 new stores in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The boss of one of the UK's largest business groups has stepped aside while an investigation takes place into complaints about his conduct at work. The CBI said it took all matters of workplace conduct "extremely seriously", but would not comment further until the probe was complete. In a tweet, Tony Danker said he was "mortified" to hear that he had caused "offence or anxiety to any colleague". "It was completely unintentional, and I apologise profusely," he wrote.

Sport

Football – It’s bad news for Paris St-Germain striker Neymar who is reportedly set to miss the rest of the season as he needs surgery on an ankle injury. The Brazil forward was carried off with an injured right ankle during PSG's 4-3 home win over Lille on 19 February. PSG say the 31-year-old has suffered several "instances of instability in his right ankle" over recent years and surgery is needed. They added it will be three to four months before he can resume training.

Meanwhile in the Premier League Brentford's impressive season continued as they overcame west London derby rivals Fulham to keep their hopes of European football very much alive with a 3-2 win.  

Tennis - World number one Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from this week's Indian Wells Masters event with the Serb unable to enter the United States. The 22-time Grand Slam winner, 35, had applied for special permission to enter the US because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19. The US requires international visitors to be vaccinated and proof will be required until at least 10 April. Djokovic missed last year's US Open because of his vaccination status.

Weather

Strong winds and sunny with the possibility of showers by late afternoon. Highs of 17 degrees in Nice, Cannes and Monaco. This evening going down to 8 degrees with clear skies.

In Saint Tropez and the Var moderate breeze and highs of 14 degrees. Drizzle is forecast for Toulon with highs of 13 degrees. Light rain in Marseille highs of 13 degrees.

Outlook for tomorrow and Thursday - fine and sunny, highs of between 15-18 degrees along the coast. Strong winds are expected to continue in Nice on Wednesday dying down by Thursday.

Sunrise       06.57am

Sunset        06.26pm

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