French and Riviera News Wednesday 20th December 2023

News

Immigration bill - After months of political debate, the French Parliament has passed a legislation toughening the country’s immigration policy. Following the result left wing parties were quick to accuse the French President Emmanuel Macron, of making concessions to the far-right after the amended bill was backed by both the presidential camp and the far-right National Rally. However, so wide was the majority in the lower house that the ruling party did not need Ms Le Pen's support. Some of the measures included in the new legislation include making it more difficult for migrants to bring family members to France and delaying their access to welfare benefits. Human rights groups denounced it as the most regressive immigration law in France in decades.

Pole Emploi to be replaced by France Travail - The French government has announced that from January 1st, the Pôle Emploi will be replaced by France Travail, a new operator of the public employment service. It said that the objective of France Travail is "to guarantee support and services even more adapted to the needs of unemployed people and companies recruiting across the country".

Ex-wife of serial killer receives life sentence - Monique Olivier the ex-wife of serial killer Michel Fourniret has been sentenced to life in prison for her complicity in two murders and a kidnap. 75-year-old Olivier was on trial in France for her part in the rape and murder of 20-year-old Joanna Parrish from Gloucestershire, in 1990- and 18-year-old Marie Angèle Domèce in 1988. She was also accused of helping kidnap nine-year-old Estelle Mouzin, whose body has never been found, in 2003. Serial killer Michel Fourniret died in 2021 before he could be brought to trial for the killings. Monique Olivier is already serving life in prison for her part in the past crimes of her former husband. She has now been handed a second life sentence, with a minimum of 20 years.

SNCF warns of scam - The SNCF has warned against a scam currently doing the rounds on social media. It takes the form of a fake competition with the title of “Happy Travels and Best Wishes”. The scam promises the opportunity for 1,000 people to win free train travel for a year. The SNCF recommends that you do not open the link or share it.

Project to relieve the congestion for people coming into Monaco - Monaco has called on France to allow a 3,000-space car park and underground connection to Monaco facility, to be built in Eze, on the road from the A8 motorway leading into the Principality. The land was purchased by Monaco in 2017 and is currently used by the Automobile Club of Monaco to store equipment for the Monte-Carlo Rally and the Grand Prix. The project’s goal is to relieve the congestion for people coming into the Principality.  While studies are underway for the park-and-ride project Monaco’s Minister of State recalled the role and importance of France in being able to make the project possible.

Power cut in the Var - Residents in Collobrières, Bormes and Le Lavandou were without electricity on Tuesday after the electricity provided Enedis reported a cable being damaged during work being carried out. 1,500 customers were affected by the power cut for most of the day.

Wolf on the loose in Saint-Tropez – Residents in Saint-Tropez have reported seeing a wolf near to the town’s beaches on Tuesday. More and more wolves have been spotted in the region over the years, with recently a pack of wolves being captured on camera in the Massive des Maures near La Môle.

Holiday season - The Var prefecture has reminded residents that if you are away during school holidays, the police or gendarmerie services can, at your request, monitor your home or business during their daily patrols. The "Operation Tranquillity Holidays" service is available not just in the Var but nationally across France. It's possible to register online and obtain further details on https://www.masecurite.interieur.gouv.fr/fr

Waxwork of Gerard Depardieu removed - The Grevin Museum in Paris has removed a waxwork of French actor Gerard Depardieu following allegations of rape and sexual assault. Depardieu was placed under judicial investigation on suspicion of rape and sexual assault in 2020. He was also accused in April of sexual assault or harassment by 13 women. He has strenuously denied all of the allegations. The life-sized representation of one of France's best-known actors had been on display at the Parisian wax museum since 1981.

Luxury yacht to be auctioned on the French Riviera - A luxury yacht seized from a Belarusian billionaire is to be sold at auction on the French Riviera. The Agency for Management and Recovery of Seized and Confiscated Assets (Agrasc) has decided to auction off the super yacht “Stefania” which was seized in 2021 in the port of Beaulieu-sur-mer, as part of a money laundering investigation.

With its sporty golden hull, the Stefania does not go unnoticed and looks like something straight out of "The Great Gatsby". The vessel is estimated at between 8 and 10 million euros and was a former star of the Monaco yacht show in 2021. The yacht will be sold at auction on January 25th in Antibes and if you don’t quite have the funds to buy it. It was reportedly previously chartered for between 150 and 200,000 euros a week.

Second-hand dealer wins court case - Finally, a second-hand dealer has won a case to keep the €4.2m proceeds from the sale of a rare African mask he found in an elderly French couple's attic. The individual had been brought in to help clear the attic of the couple, who at the time sold him the mask for €150. The couple sued, arguing that they had been misled about the item's value. But the judge disagreed, saying they had failed to appreciate the artwork's true worth. The judge ruled in favour of the dealer and said the couple had failed to exercise due diligence in evaluating the "historical and artistic" value of the mask.

Business

Habitat France has said it is struggling significantly, after requesting to be placed in judicial receivership following the closure of eight of its French stores. The furniture brand, founded in 1964, has 25 stores. The jobs of some 450 employees are directly threatened. For the many customers who have been waiting for months for the delivery of furniture that has already been paid for, the chances of seeing their orders delivered or refunded are considerably low. According to a lawyer specialising in consumer defence “If there were to be liquidation, it would be very complicated for customers waiting for their furniture". 

The low-cost airline company EasyJet has confirmed the order of 157 planes from Airbus. The A320neos reportedly emit 15% less (CO2) than previous models, while “carrying more passengers on board”. The contract was announced last October and represents the sum of 19 billion dollars. EasyJet and Airbus are both strong advocates for decarbonization of the aviation sector.

France’s competition watchdog has imposed a 91.6 million euros fine on the French subsidiary of Swiss watch manufacture Rolex. The fine comes after the luxury brand banned its distributors from selling its products online "for more than ten years". The competition watchdog in France considers these practices "serious, because they amount to closing a marketing channel, to the detriment of consumers and distributors, while online distribution has been growing for fifteen years for luxury products, including watches.

Sport

Football - England goalkeeper Mary Earps has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2023. She is the second women's footballer in succession to win the BBC award.

In the League Cup this evening Liverpool are at home to West Ham kick off is at 9pm French time.

Cricket - England hit their highest T20 international total in a chaotic 75-run win over West Indies to level the series.

Weather

Cloudy to begin with clearing as the day does on with sunny intervals. A moderate wind in the Alpes Maritimes, with the mistral expected to blow in the Var, with gust of up to 100km an hour. Highs of 15 degrees in Nice, Monaco, and Antibes. 16 degrees in Cannes and Saint-Tropez. This evening going down to 2 degrees in the Var and 7 degrees in the Alpes Maritimes with clear skies.

The outlook for Thursday and Friday fine with a gentle breeze and highs of 15-16 degrees.

Sunrise       07.59am

Sunset        04.54pm

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