French and Riviera News Wednesday 4th January 2023

News

Save the baguette - The French government is offering exceptional support to help bakeries in France after facing strong criticism from opposition “for not doing enough”. A strong symbol between the art of living and a representation of France, bakeries have been confronted with the explosion in the price of energy and raw materials such as butter and flour and “fear for their survival”. One baker explained how his electricity bill has increased from 1,800 euros in 2021 to 12,000 euros in December, saying he is "dying financially”.

The French government has in recent weeks multiplied gestures towards bakeries hard hit by the rise in electricity prices and on Tuesday evening announced the possibility of terminating their energy contract free of charge and offered them the possibility to postpone payments of taxes and social security contributions.

With 33,000 shops in France, the profession has 110,000 employees and millions of customers every day of the year. Home of the baguette France is said to produce some 16 million baguettes a day and it was just recently in November that Unesco added the baguette to its "intangible cultural heritage" list celebrating the French way of Life.  

Yellow vests call for mobilization - A collective call for the mobilization of yellow vests has been made for next Saturday the 7th January to protest against the pension reform, inflation, but also the use of article 49.3 by the government. Gatherings are expected to be centred around Paris, but organizers do not exclude other demonstrations in France. Four years after the emergence of the movement some members hope to relaunch their mobilization on January 7th.

Schools evacuated - Around twenty schools in France have had to be evacuated following threats of an attack. As pupils returned to school on Monday and Tuesday several establishments in Lille, Lyon and Marseille reported the threat of an attack following a hack of some pupils secure messaging system. According to the Ministry of National Education, "about twenty establishments (middle and high schools) were concerned by these messages”. The investigation continues.

Carpooling - Following the news that the French State is offering a carpooling bonus of 100 euros the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region is launching a study on its regional carpooling service to encourage this mode of transport for daily travel. More practical than the hitchhiking of their elders, carpooling is attracting more and more young people for their occasional trips. In 2022, the fuel crisis was for some the opportunity to try carpooling. Nationally, 70% of home-work journeys are made by car and only 3% by carpooling.

The study, which should lead to concrete proposals by the end of the year, concerns infrastructure needs as well as putting drivers in contact with potential carpooling users, educational tools to gain new followers and support for employers.

Demolition of TNN - The last phase of the demolition of Nice’s National Theatre has taken place with the facade, gutted several weeks ago disappearing. After years of political and legal battles the last wall of the TNN was knocked down on Tuesday January 3rd.  Built in 1989, the building will give way to an extension of the “Coulée Verte”. The project should be finished by the end of 2025.

Rise in temperatures - Heat waves, drought, and forest fires. The rise in temperatures marked the 2022 with extreme weather and obvious consequences of climate change. According to France’s National Weather Forecasting Institute, temperatures were above normal for most of the year, by 1 to 3 ° C on average, depending on the region. Only January was below normal.

France was not the only country affected by the weather linked to global warming. Europe-wide, the summer of 2022 was the hottest on record. Average temperatures in Europe were 1.3°C above those of the period 1991-2000.

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region has not been spared either in the Alpes-Maritimes, it resulted in the drying up of the artificial Broc lake, located in a natural park about twenty kilometres from Nice. With a water level less than 8 meters, the department was forced last August to temporarily ban fishing there, to protect fish species. In Nice, the city has known, since June 30, 56 consecutive so-called "tropical" nights. Due in part to the high temperature of the Mediterranean, these particularly hot nights have become the norm in the heart of summer 2022.

And according to Nathalie Hilmi, head of the "environmental economy" section at the Scientific Centre of Monaco, we will have to get used to it. Hilmi also points out that climate change presents a real danger to the local economy saying who will go skiing if there is no snow? Or to the beach if it's too hot?

Winter sales – Good news if you enjoy shopping as the sales have already started here in Monaco, with discounts of up to 50%. While the winter sales will not start until Wednesday January 11th in France, discounts have already been displayed in Monaco since Monday.

Business

US regulators have issued their first ever joint warning to banks over the risks associated with the cryptocurrency market. The watchdogs told financial institutions to be wary of potential fraud, legal uncertainty and misleading disclosures by digital asset firms. It comes just two months after the collapse of trading platform FTX sent shockwaves through the crypto industry.

Meanwhile, the former boss of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty in a US court to claims that he took customer deposits at FTX to fund another firm, buy property and make political donations. Bankman-Fried officially denied charges that he defrauded customers and investors. He was released after his arrest last month on a $250m bail package. But he faces more than 100 years in prison if convicted. Two of Mr Bankman-Fried's closest colleagues have pleaded guilty already and are cooperating with the investigation, which has shaken the entire cryptocurrency industry. Mr Bankman-Fried, who founded FTX in 2019, was one of the most high-profile figures in the cryptocurrency industry, known for his political ties, celebrity endorsements and bailouts of other struggling firms.

A two-year ban on some foreigners buying homes in Canada has come into effect. The ban aims to help ease one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the world. Some have been critical of the ban, saying it is unclear what impact it will have on Canada's housing market. As of 1 January, the ban prohibits people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents from buying residential properties and imposes a C$10,000 fine on those who breach it.

And - The boss of Britain's largest rail union Mick Lynch has warned that train strikes could continue for months. Lynch said the RMT union, which began its latest walkouts on Tuesday, had a mandate to take action up until May, and could "go further". People returning to work after the Christmas break have been urged to avoid travelling by rail this week because of strikes running to Saturday. The action is over pay and conditions, but one party said a deal was close. Mr Lynch apologised for the action "dragging on" but accused the government of "doing nothing" about the dispute.

Sport

Football – In the Premier League last night Arsenal drew 0-0 with Newcastle United. Everton lost to Brighton 4-1. Fulham beat Leicester 1-0 and Manchester United won 3-0 at home to Bournemouth.  This evening Southampton are at home to Nottingham Forest, Leeds play West Ham. Kick off for both matches is at 8.30pm French time. Aston Villa face Wolves and Crystal Palace are at home to Tottenham. Kick off 9pm French time.

Rugby Union - Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is a doubt for the Six Nations opener against Wales next month because of a facial injury. Ireland start their Six Nations campaign against Wales on 4 February.

Tennis - Emma Raducanu made a winning start to 2023 with victory over teenager Linda Fruhvirtova in her opening match at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The Briton, 20, came through 4-6 6-4 6-2 against the 17-year-old Czech rising star in a rain-affected match.

Weather

Sunny intervals. Highs of 17 degrees in Cannes, 16 in Nice and 15 in Monaco with a gentle breeze. This evening going down to 7 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Thursday and Friday. Sunny intervals and highs of 15-16 degrees.

Sunrise:      08.04hr

Sunset:       17.06hr

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