French and Riviera News Wednesday 18th January 2023

News

Action against pension reform - While unions in France are calling for a strike this Thursday January 19th, to demonstrate against the pension reform, French President Emmanuel Macron says he does not believe in a “victory of irresponsibility”.  Macron reportedly recognizes the weariness and concern of the French, but "considers first of all that France is a political nation, full of common sense, which knows that this reform is in the interest of young people and modest pensioners". The Head of State justifies the reform in the name of the “financial balance”.

Several key sectors in France are expected to be affected by the strike tomorrow, first and foremost transport and education. The reform, which aims to raise the legal retirement age to 64, "is a major concern" for teachers. About 70% of strikers are expected in nursery and elementary schools.

In public transport, traffic will be "severely disrupted" at the SNCF, in particular for regional trains (TER and Transilien), a little less for TGVs and disruptions will not spare the air sector: due to a strike by air traffic controllers, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) asked companies to preventively cancel one in five flights at Orly on Thursday.

In our region is it expected to have a significant impact on Lignes d'Azur public transport around the Nice area. No trams will be running and several dozen bus lines will also have no service. Street parking in Nice will be free on Thursday 19th January, due to the demonstrations.

Emergency numbers - In other news, emergency numbers such as the 15,18 and 112 in France have been severely disrupted for at least an hour across the country. Orange announced the breakdown on Tuesday afternoon saying that 40% of calls were routed and the quality of the rest of the calls was degraded". A return to normal was confirmed at 4:45pm however Orange was unable to explain the failure. Last year, Orange had already experienced a breakdown of emergency numbers over a longer period. The numbers dedicated to the Samu (15)and to the police (17), suffered technical problems on June 2nd between 6 p.m. and midnight, when they were restored.

Lycée in Nice evacuated - 1,700 pupils at the Lycée Massena in Nice were ordered to leave school on Tuesday morning due to the presence of a suspect package. The building was evacuated near the start of the school day, and nearby roads closed to traffic, while experts were called in to safely destroy the suspect item.

Accident - A car driver was taken to hospital this lunchtime after a head-on collision with a bus in the Cap Estel tunnel on the Basse Corniche. An eyewitness says the driver of the 607 bus appeared to have become unwell and lost control of their vehicle. The bus's passengers escaped unharmed.

Improvement projects Nice - The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has warned that several planned improvement projects in the area will have to be delayed by a few years due to budgetary constraints. With soaring inflation, high energy bills and the rising cost of debt, the Nice metropolitan area needs to rebalance its budget plans. The extension of the Nice tram network will go ahead as planned. But upgrades to a number of cultural facilities, including the Nice opera house and several museums, will be pushed back from 2025 to 2027 as they’re considered not a priority. Estrosi said these works would be accelerated again if Nice wins its bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2028.

Mayor asks singer Madonna to lend the city an artwork – Meanwhile, the mayor of Amiens has asked American singer Madonna to lend the city an artwork thought to be a masterpiece lost in the war. The superstar bought what is now thought to be Diana And Endymion by Jerome-Martin Langlois for $1.3million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in 1989. The painting was acquired by the French republic in 1873 and exhibited in Amiens but was lost when the city was bombed during the First World War in 1918. After a recent article suggested the painting, or one almost identical, reappeared in 1989 mayor Brigitte Foure issued her plea to Madonna in the hope she’ll lend it to them ahead of the city’s bid to become European capital of culture in 2028.

President of the Monte-Carlo SBM to step down - The president of the Monte-Carlo SBM has announced to staff that he'll step down next week. Jean-Luc Biamonti had served as director of the SBM since 1985, and became chairman of the board of directors 10 years later in 1995. Among the major projects he's overseen include renovations to the Hôtel de Paris, Sporting d'Hiver and Casino Square. He also steered the company through an important restructuring due to the pandemic, which saw more than 200 voluntary redundancies. The SBM is recovering from the coronavirus crisis, with turnover in the past six months up 40% on the same time a year ago. The company is hopeful it's on track to match, or beat, the record financial results seen in 2007.

World’s oldest person dies at nursing home in Toulon - A French nun who held the title of being the world's oldest person has died at the age of 118. Lucile Randon, who was born on February 11th, 1904, passed away less than a month before she was due to turn 119 having survived catching covid last year. Ms Randon, who went by the name Sister Andre after joining a Catholic charitable order in 1944, had taken the title last year after the death of a 119-year-old Japanese woman. Her death was announced on Tuesday by a Toulon nursing home where she had spent the last years of her life on the Mediterranean coast. 

Possibility that the Pope could visit the region in October - According to French media a visit by Pope Francis to the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region is being planned for next October. This visit by Pope Francis to Marseille would be historic as the last time a pope visited Marseille was 490 years ago. With the first preparations already underway the Vatican should make an official announcement within a few days. The visit would be part of a meeting of bishops from the Mediterranean. It would be Pope Francis' first visit to France since his election on March 13, 2013.

Harry and Meghan - And tucked among the 400 pages of revelations in Prince Harry's new memoir you'll find a few lines about Harry and Meghan's time on the Riviera. The Duke of Sussex recalls a holiday in summer 2019 staying at Sir Elton John's villa in Nice. The couple had been invited by Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish for a few days' break to get away from the British press, just two months after the birth of their son Archie. "We spent a few days basking in the sun on their terrace," writes Harry, who borrowed a scooter from Sir Elton and enjoyed a ride with Meghan along scenic coastal roads.

Business

Netflix is hiring a flight attendant for one of its private jets - with the successful applicant being paid as much as $385,000 (£313,538) a year. The streaming giant says it is looking for candidates with "independent judgement, discretion and outstanding customer service skills". They should also be able to "operate with little direction and a lot of self-motivation." Last year Netflix cut hundreds of jobs after a fall in subscriber numbers. The role - based in San Jose, California - requires travel in and beyond the US.

Collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX says that around $415m (£338m) of crypto has been stolen by hackers. About $323m was hacked from its international exchange and $90m from its US platform since the firm filed for bankruptcy. FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been accused of stealing billions of dollars from FTX users to pay debts at his other firm. Mr Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges.

The head of the UN's agency for workers' rights has denied the organisation backs the UK's tough new anti-strike laws. It comes after UK ministers repeatedly suggested the International Labour Organisation (ILO) supported government plans to enforce "minimum service levels" during public sector strikes. The new laws are meant to protect the public from the impact of walkouts. But unions have called them "undemocratic, unworkable and illegal".

And - Prospective jurors in a civil lawsuit against Elon Musk have expressed mixed views of the Tesla boss, with some calling him smart and others saying he is "off his rocker". Mr Musk, who is being sued by Tesla shareholders arguing he manipulated the Tesla share price, has said he cannot get a fair trial in San Francisco. The case centres on his 2018 tweet that he would take Tesla private.

US regulators removed Mr Musk as Tesla chairman because of the post. Shareholders argue that the tweet cost them billions of dollars after the stock price plummeted. The Tesla CEO, however, argued that he believed he had secured funding from Saudi Arabia's Investment Fund, and did not commit securities fraud.

Sport

Football - British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe's firm Ineos has officially entered the race to buy Manchester United. United's owners the Glazer family said in November that they were considering selling the club as they "explore strategic alternatives". Ratcliffe made an unsuccessful late £4.25bn offer to buy Chelsea last year.

Born the son of a joiner in Failsworth, in Greater Manchester, Ratcliffe is a boyhood fan of United and one of the UK's richest men. Ineos group owns Nice in France and Swiss club Lausanne. United have been owned by the Glazer family since 2005.

Meanwhile, last night Jurgen Klopp said he has waited "ages" for Liverpool to win a game with a positive performance, after the Reds booked their place in the FA Cup fourth round with a gutsy victory over Wolves beating them 1-0. This evening in the third-round replay Leeds are at home to Cardiff City. Kick of is at 8.45pm French time.

Formula One - The cancelled Chinese Grand Prix will not be replaced this year. It was announced in December that the 2023 race was called off because of "ongoing difficulties" with Covid in China. F1 has rejected a request from the Chinese organisers for the race to be reinstated and will not replace its 23 April date with another event. The Shanghai race was due to return in April for the first time since 2019.

Rugby Union - England have received a Six Nations boost with Henry Slade's red card being overturned by a disciplinary panel. The Exeter centre was sent off for a high tackle on Saturday.  England begin their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Twickenham on 4 February with Slade a prime contender to start the match.

Weather

Sunny with a moderate breeze. Highs of 11 degrees in Monaco, Saint-Tropez and Toulon, 12 degrees in Nice, 15 degrees in Cannes and just 7 degrees in Tende inland. This evening going down to 5 degrees along the coast and -2 degrees in Puget Théniers.

The outlook for tomorrow and Friday. Tomorrow morning some cloudy patches clearing by the afternoon. Highs of 12-13 degrees. Friday sunny with a gentle breeze high of 10-11 degrees. Heading into the weekend sunshine is forecast with clear skies but feeling cooler with highs of 10 degrees.

Sunrise       07.59hr

Sunset        17.22hr

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