French and Riviera News Wednesday 21st February 2024

National News France

Fake broadcast - A fake France 24 video broadcast in Russia has started an assassination rumour ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s planned visit to Ukraine. The allegations made in the newscast have been denied by both the television channel and the Elysée. The video was mainly shared by pro-Russian accounts, notably on Russia’s equivalent of Facebook. It appears to come from a television news program from the international news channel France 24 with presenter Julien Fanciulli stating that "French President Emmanuel Macron was forced to cancel his visit to Ukraine following death threats against him". Emmanuel Macron has since assured that he will be going to Ukraine "before mid-March" as planned.

Tension is high ahead of Agricultural Show - Tension is rising just days away from the Agricultural Show this weekend in Paris as farmers block roads in southwestern France. On Tuesday, farmers blocked the A62 motorway between Agen and Montauban causing a 70km tailback. Tuesday’s disruptions came following blockades in Marseille on Monday. France’s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal is due to give a press conference this Wednesday morning on the agricultural crisis. Farmers are demanding a fair remuneration based on their production costs and fewer restrictions.

Far-right leader set to attend national ceremony - The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is set to defy requests to stay away from a national ceremony being held today to honour a second world war resistance hero. A spokesperson for Le Pen described President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that she should not attend the event on Wednesday in honour of Missak Manouchian as “outrageous”. In response, Le Pen confirmed she would be present at the ceremony. “Despite the outrageous suggestion from the president”. Other members of the RN are also expected to attend.

Flying taxis at the Olympic Games? - The CEO of Paris airports Augustin de Romanet has spoken of the possibility of flying taxis in the French capital during the Olympic Games this summer. The experiment, if it were to happen, would be the first in the world, but is however facing setbacks and is suspended until the certification of the device is given by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Romanet is showing determination and great enthusiasm for the project announcing that the vertical takeoff aircraft would be based at three different airports and heliports in and around Paris.

Local

National Rally president is handed medal from CRS in Saint-Laurent du Var - France’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin has called for an administrative investigation to be open after the president of the far-right political party the National Rally, Jordan Bardella, received a police medal from the CRS (France’s special mobile police force) in the Alpes Maritimes, during his visit to our region on Monday. Jean-Marc Cortes, the commander of the CRS 6, based in Saint-Laurent-du-Var, offered the medal to Bardella and the video was published on social networks. Bardella has since expressed how appalled he is saying that the incident is far-fetched and has become a blown-out controversy” adding that happens he collect police medals.

Man shot dead in Avignon - A 25-year-old man has been shot dead in Avignon. The victim died of his injuries on Monday evening at around 11.30pm. The shooting had occurred on the Boulevard Louis-Carpentras, on the outskirts of Avignon and is believed to be a settling of accounts linked to drug trafficking in the area. An investigation is underway.

Cyclist injured after falling 10 metres - A cyclist has been seriously injured after falling 10 metres below the road near Grasse. The accident occurred on Tuesday at around 11.30am on the road from Cipières to Gréolières. The man in his forties was taken to hospital in Nice in a serious condition.

Fort de Bregançon - Emmanuel Macron's presidential retreat in the Var is to be closed to public visits until at least this autumn. The Fort de Brégançon on the seafront in Bormes-les-Mimosas is the traditional summer residence for French presidents and can normally be visited by the public during the winter months. But work has just begun on renovating some facades and it's expected to last several months. A reopening date is not yet known - but it's likely to be no earlier than September, after the president's regular summer holiday.

Gassin to represent the PACA region - Gassin in the Var has been chosen to represent the Paca region in a nationwide contest to find France's best village. France 3 television has opened the public vote - and Gassin is hoping to take the title from current holder Esquelbecq, a little village of 2,000 inhabitants in the Nord. If it does, it'll be the first time that a village in the Paca is crowned winner. The local tourist office is pulling out all the stops to get as many votes as possible, including flyers and social media campaigns. Gassin is known for its Provençal charm, beautiful views over the Gulf of Saint-Tropez and the narrowest street in the world.

Nice airport - Nice has come joint-third in a ranking of the most romantic airports in France. A very scientific study, by a travel website, analysed how long each airport's "kiss and fly" facility allows you to drop off a passenger and bid them a goodbye. It looked at the drop-off policies at 112 airports around Europe. In France, Lyon is the winner, with a 20-minute drop-off time - plus the possibility to park your car and leave it, free of charge, for an hour. Marseille comes second. While it's less generous with its eight-minute drop-off time, it allows people to park free for half an hour. Nice comes joint third alongside Paris Charles de Gaulle and Strasbourg, with its 15-minute kiss-and-fly policy. London's Heathrow Airport, on the other hand, charges a £5 fee.

Lottery player in France wins last night’s jackpot - A French lottery player has won last night’s Euromillions jackpot. With the five correct numbers and the two stars the lucky winner pockets nearly 73.5 million euros. The correct numbers were 23, 31, 37, 42 and 48 and stars 3 and 7. Other winners included four players in Europe who won 143,586 euros. Nine countries participate in the Euromillions. France is one of three countries which has the most jackpot winners behind the United Kingdom and ahead of Spain. It was in 2022, one player in England took home a record 230 million euros. However, the odds of winning the Euromillions jackpot are low: a player has approximately one chance in 140 million of winning the jackpot. By comparison, the chance of being bitten by a shark is one in five million.

Business

Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, has posted an almost 80% jump in its pre-tax profit which rose to $30.3bn (£24bn) in 2023, fuelled by high interest rates. It comes after central banks around the world raised interest rates in the last 18 months to help curb rising prices. The bank makes most of its profits in Asia, especially China and Hong Kong.

Multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos has sold another 14 million Amazon shares, worth around $2.4bn (£1.9bn). The latest sale brings the total number of shares he has sold in the firm over the last nine trading days to about 50 million, with a value of around $8.5bn. His sales of Amazon stock comes after they have risen by more than 76% in the past year. Mr Bezos, who is the firm's founder and executive chair, had previously last sold Amazon shares in 2021.

And - The Body Shop is set to shut up to half of its 198 stores in the UK and cut the size of its head office, leading to hundreds of job losses. Closures will begin immediately and the firm that is overseeing the restructuring of the beauty retailer.  The Body Shop employs around 2,200 people in the UK, including 750 staff at its head office.

Sport

Football – In the Premier League last night Manchester City beat Brentford 1-0. In tonight's action Liverpool are at home to Luton Town, kick off is at 8.30pm.

And - Sir Jim Ratcliffe's deal to buy a 27.7% stake in Manchester United has been completed. The British billionaire's investment is worth about $1.6bn (£1.25bn).

Meanwhile, Paris St-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe has agreed to join Real Madrid this summer. Mbappe has not signed a contract with Real yet, but the deal could be announced once it is no longer possible for the clubs to meet in this season's Champions League. The World Cup winner is PSG's record goal scorer with 244 goals.

Tennis - Andy Murray has won his first match of 2024 with an encouraging 6-1 7-6 (7-5) victory against Alexandre Muller at the Qatar Open. Murray had lost his previous six matches but overcame an injury concern in the middle of the first set and went on to win.

Athletics - World Athletics is planning to introduce a new trial for measuring long jump take-offs. A "take-off zone" could be used instead of the traditional wooden board, where a no-jump is called if the athlete's foot crosses the line. The jump will be measured from where the athlete's front foot takes off to where they land in the pit. The aim of the long jump adaptation would be to reduce the number of no-jumps, meaning that every jump counts. However, the news has led to long jump legend Carl Lewis attacking the decision saying that it “would just eliminate the most difficult skill from the event”.

Weather

Cloudy with sunny intervals and a gentle breeze. Highs of 16 degrees in Nice, Mougins and Saint-Tropez. 17 degrees in Cannes and 15 degrees in Monaco, Marseille and Toulon with light winds. This evening going down to 10 degrees along the coast.

The outlook for tomorrow, light rain is forecast across the region with highs of 16. Friday sunny intervals and highs of 17.

Sunrise