French and Riviera News Wednesday 20th March 2024

National News France

French president arranges meeting to discuss political situation and public finances - French President Emmanuel Macron will today, Wednesday 20th March, welcome party leaders and presidents of the majority parliamentary groups to the Elysee to talk about the political situation and public finances. The meeting comes as France’s Finance minister Bruno Le Maire recently confirmed that the public deficit in 2023 would slip "significantly beyond the 4.9%" of GDP initially expected. France's debt and deficit are being scrutinized by rating agencies, several of which are due to give their verdict in April.

Paris 2024 to ensure supply of condoms - Paris the city of love is living up to its name by providing condoms to athletes during the Olympic Games this summer. From July 26 to August 11, summer promises to be hot on the Olympic planet. For all sports lovers, but also and especially for athletes. After the social distancing measures imposed and sexual relations discouraged - but not prohibited either - during the last Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, during a global pandemic. Organisers have announced that 300,000 condoms will be made available to athletes at the Olympic village. In comparison nearly 100,000 condoms were made available to athletes during the London 2012 Games, 70,000 in Sydney in 2000 and 160,000 at Tokyo 2021 despite the health crisis. The record will remain in the hands of Rio, which in 2016 provided no less than 450,000 condoms to athletes.

Local News

French President makes surprise visit to Marseille – Locally, French President Emmanuel Macron launched on Tuesday a weeks-long operation against drug trafficking in Marseille, saying gangland battles that last year have left dozens dead and made life impossible for many residents. During the surprise visit on Tuesday Macron arrived at the southern port, which later this summer will host some Paris 2024 Olympics events, Macron said more than 80 people had already been detained in the first raids. Some 4,000 police officers will be mobilised every week in Marseille and the surrounding areas for the next three weeks. Macron began his visit with a walkabout in the northern district of La Castellane, telling residents in one of the worst hit areas that the operation will "try to destroy the networks and the traffickers." As Macron talked to locals from the area, which has a large Muslim population, he found however that the war in Gaza came up as much as drug issues, with residents urging France to do more for the Palestinians. Macron later warned that the conflict "should not give rise to any hatred within the French republic".

Marseille will allow Crit’Air 3 vehicles to circulate beyond January 1st, 2025 - The French government has allowed the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis to choose whether it authorizes Crit'Air 3 vehicles to circulate after January 1st of next year. Crit’Air 3 is for vehicles which conform to the Euro 2, 3 petrol vehicles and Euro 4 diesel vehicles and is an orange sticker. Following a press conference on Tuesday it was announced that cars categorized as Crit'Air 3 will be able to continue to circulate in Marseille beyond January 1st, 2025. The move comes despite the national calendar for the system to be implemented which aimed to reduce the number of polluting cars in French cities, based on their Crit’Air sticker.

Nice Mayor congratulates police officers for their courage - The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has congratulated police officers for their courage following an intervention in the west of Nice on Tuesday evening, which resulted in a police officer opening fire. Shortly after 6.30pm police attempted to arrest an individual at the wheel of his vehicle as part of an investigation. The man refused violently to comply with officers and a shot was fired. The individual was later placed in police custody and charge with “attempted homicide on the police officer”.

Jaques Chirac statue vandalised for a fifth time - The statue of Jacques Chirac in Nice has once again been vandalised in Nice. It marks the 5th time in just four years. The town hall has filed yet another complaint and plans to take action. The statue, signed by the Nice artist Patrick Frega, will be removed to be renovated. The first time it was vandalised was just after it was installed in February 2020 when two fingers of the left hand were cut off.

Price per square metre amongst most expensive in France - According to a study carried out by the real estate valuation platform “Meilleurs Agents” property in Cannes, Antibes and Nice is amongst the most expensive in France in terms of price per square metre. In Cannes, where real estate prices increased by 3.4% in one year to stand at €6,127/m² on average as of March 1, 2024, certain streets still display high prices, even surpassing certain districts of Paris. For example, the price per square metre on the Boulevard de la Croisette stands at 12,410 euros placing the Cité des Festivals in second position in the ranking ranking. Third position goes to Antibes, with an average price per square metre of 6,133 euros. The five most expensive streets in the city amount to €10,948/m² and are almost all located in Cap d'Antibes. Finally, the Riviera capital, Nice, comes just behind, in fourth position. The most expensive streets are all located to the east of Nice, in the Mont Boron district: avenue Jean Lorrain (10,300€/m²), avenue Germaine (10,195€/m²) and boulevard Princesse Grâce de Monaco (9,990€/m²) m²). However, Paris tops the ranking and remains the city where prices per square metre are at their highest.

Summer work - Finally, after we recently mentioned job fairs in Monaco, Menton and Nice, here's another opportunity to find work this summer. The Oceanographic Museum in Monaco is looking to fill 22 vacancies ahead of the peak tourist season - a mix of seasonal, fixed-term and permanent contracts. Jobs on offer include working at the ticket office, accompanying educational visits, accounting and some technical roles. The museum is holding a recruitment day on 12th April and anyone interested can register beforehand on their website.

Business

France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire has, in front of the National Assembly on Tuesday, warned MPs about the worsening of public accounts and the need to make savings, urging them to “stop making additional spending proposals”. Le Maire called for “collective awareness” and invited political forces, from both the majority and the opposition, to meet with the Minister of Public Accounts, “to examine together the possible and necessary savings ". Bruno Le Maire added that the widespread slogan amongst politicians of “I spend therefore I am”, must be replaced by “I save, therefore I am, and I protect”.

Le Maire said he wanted a return to budgetary seriousness, saying that “France must reduce its deficits and cut a certain number of expenditures and must return to below the 3% public deficit in 2027 and the balance of our public finances within ten years”.

According to its Paris-based owner Kering, sales at Gucci are expected to fall by 20% in the first quarter due to a slowdown in Asia. The warning contrasts with rivals LVMH and Hermès whose sales have remained resilient. The luxury market has grown in the past decade, but sales have not been as impressive in recent years. Gucci is estimated to get more than a third of its sales from China.

Meanwhile, as part of an extensive three-year cost saving plan the owners of Marmite and Dove soap Unilever is to cut about 7,500 jobs worldwide.  The group also said it would split off its ice cream business which includes the Wall's, Ben & Jerry's and Magnum brands. The food and household goods giant said the spin-off will start immediately and should be completed by the end of 2025.

And – Hundreds of jobs look likely to be put at risk after the High Street fashion chain Ted Baker is set to be put into administration.  Authentic Brands Group, the Ted Baker brand owner since 2022, said "damage done" during a tie-up with another firm was "too much to overcome". The US group said that Ted Baker will continue to trade and customer orders will be fulfilled.

Sport

Football - Midfielder for Manchester United Kobbie Mainoo has received his first call-up to the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Belgium. England play Brazil on Saturday and Belgium on 26 March - both at Wembley - their final games before Southgate names his squad for Euro 2024.

Paris Olympics - The International Olympic Committee has announced that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not take part in the opening ceremony at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.  Athletes from both countries were banned following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, athletes from Russia and Belarus who qualify for the Games can compete as neutrals. A decision on them being part of the closing ceremony will be taken at a later date.

Cricket - Australia have withdrawn from their men's T20 series against Afghanistan in August because of continued restrictions on women and girls in the country under the ruling Taliban. The three-match series was scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates. Cricket Australia (CA) says government advice is that conditions for women and girls "are getting worse".

Weather

Mainly fine with light winds and highs of 17 degrees in Nice and Monaco. 20 degrees inland in the Var in Draguignan. 19 degrees in Cannes and Toulon. This evening going down to 10 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Thursday and Friday. Fine with a gentle breeze and highs of 17 degrees.

Sunrise Wednesday              06.32am

Sunset Wednesday               06.43pm

Sea temperature

Monaco                                  14.2°

Weather elsewhere

Paris         20° sunny. 

Madrid    22° light rain.

Berlin       16° sunny intervals. 

And Finally

In what has been hailed as a significant breakthrough in the fight against HIV scientist have revealed that they have successfully eliminated the virus from infected cells. Using 'genetic scissors', experts were able to snip out the virus from infected T cells in the laboratory, removing all traces. Experts said the hope is the technique could one day be developed into a treatment, stopping the need for lifelong antiviral medication.

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