French and Riviera News Wednesday 18th May 2022


Ukrainian President Zelensky speaks during the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival - The opening of the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday evening was marked by the video intervention of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The former actor was given a standing ovation by the entire Croisette for his speech projected on a giant screen at the Palais des Festivals. Zelensky chose to highlight the masterpiece of The Dictator by Charlie Chaplin explaining that the film "certainly did not destroy the real dictator, but it was the voice of the future victory of freedom" adding that cinema remains, according to him, a way in its own right to denounce the brutality of history”. He also referred to the situation of people still entrenched in the occupied territories saying, "humanity has made many wonderful films, you can conquer by beauty and not by the ugliness of life in air-raid shelters ". His speech combined the love he has always had for the seventh art, as well as the urgency of the situation in his country. The Cannes Film Festival has often been a forum for discussing divisions, social differences, and for denouncing certain acts.

Hiker airlifted to safety - A hiker has been airlifted to safety after suffering injuries while walking in the Estérel in the Var. The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon when the 55-year-old woman injured her ankle. Along with the ambulance staff, nine firefighters were on the scene and a civil security helicopter was also called in to intervene at the scene of the accident.

Motorist arrested after car chase with police - A motorist has been arrested following a car chase with police from Toulon to Marseille. The 30-year-old had refused to stop at a road check and was reportedly driving under the influence of alcohol, he is soon to appear in court. Police say that the motorist, who was driving at high speed on the A50 motorway, drove through both the pay tolls of Sanary and La Ciotat and hit two other vehicles before crashing into traffic lights in Marseille.

Motorcross riders fined in Massif des Maures - Police in the Var have issued fines to a group of motorcross riders in the Massif des Maures for prohibited parking and circulating in a forest area. As part of forest fire risk prevention, the Pierrefeu gendarmerie carried out a control operation in the Maures massif.

MOT for two-wheelers - France’s Council of State has announced that a postponement of the entry into force of the MOT for two-wheelers beyond October 1st, 2022 "for the oldest vehicles" was "not justified". After having ratified in April 2021 the cancellation "until further notice" of the application by France of this European directive by the President of the Republic, the MOT for two-wheelers must be put in place by October 1, 2022.

Unemployment figures in France - According to figures published today by INSEE the unemployment rate in France is almost stable in the first quarter of 2022 at 7.3% compared to 7.4% in the last quarter of 2021. In the first quarter, the number of unemployed as defined by the International Labour Office (ILO) reached 2.2 million people, or 18,000 less. The unemployment rate, which had fallen sharply in the last quarter (-0.6 points), is at its lowest level since the beginning of 2008.

President of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region withdraws subsidies to Grenoble following the authorisation of the burkini in public swimming pools - The President of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region Laurent Wauquiez has announced that the region is to withdraw its subsidies to the city council of Grenoble, after the mayor adopted on Monday evening the authorisation to wear a burkini in public swimming pools in the city. On Monday evening, Grenoble city council approved, with a narrow majority, the authorization to wear the burkini in the city's swimming pools, shortly after Wauquiez announced that the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region was "immediately ceasing all subsidies” justifying his action by saying that “by authorizing the wearing of the burkini in public swimming pools, the mayor Eric Piolle breaks from secularism and the values of our Republic". In a press release, shared by Le Dauphiné Libéré, Laurent Wauquiez maintains that the deliberation voted by the Grenoble city council "marks a worrying drift and a real step backwards" saying that "it promotes, a total rupture with all the values of the Republic, a sign of the submission of women, a symbol of political Islam. It is the sign of a pact with political Islam. We will not be complicit in this manoeuvre of submission," he said. Ecologist mayor Eric Piolle brushed aside opposition objections during the city council, citing a "feminist", "health" and "secularism" fight because nothing prohibits the wearing of religious clothing in public space, "including at the swimming pool".