French and Riviera News Wednesday 6th December 2023


“National emergency to raise the level of students in France” according to France’s education minister - France’s Minister of Education Gabriel Attal has said that there is a “national emergency to raise the level of students”. Attal comment’s follow the publication of a report which points to a “severe decline in the level of education of young people in France” particularly, in subjects such as “mathematics” and “reading comprehension”. Attal calls for a strengthening of "fundamental knowledge" with plans to introduce next year certain measures. These would include the decision for a child who fails a year to have to repeat it, referred to as a ‘redoublement” will be left “solely up to the team of teachers and will no longer allow families to have the last word”, in addition there would be the possibility to offer courses to certain students during the holidays, an opportunity to not have to repeat a year.

Attal also wants to continue work on primary schools announcing an overhaul of programs from nursery to CE2. Similar changes would be carried out on CM1 and CM2 students from the beginning of the 2025 school year. The Minister of National Education also announced “as of today” the creation of the “Higher Program Council" to which he sets several objectives, including the introduction of "real progress goals”. Gabriel Attal also asks that these programs give more space to “general culture”.  Finally to tackle the problem of mathematics, Attal said that from the start of the 2024 school year, France will adopt the Singapore method, which has proven itself throughout the world and which involves teaching fractions and decimal numbers from CE1 class which is for 7-8 year olds.  Finally in high school, from the 2025-2026 school year, a new “mathematical and scientific culture test” will be added to the baccalaureate program, for general and technological first year students.

Storm Alex - The French government has announced plans to enforce more controls on the construction sites of the valleys behind Nice following the devastation caused by Storm Alex. Following a council meeting with the Minister of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, and elected officials on Tuesday, the minister announced that exceptional reconstruction funds will be mobilized in 2024 and 2025, in order to finalize current projects. An independent design office will also be mandated to carry out checks in 2024, guaranteeing the quality of the work. This comes following several construction sites in the Vésubie which are currently under investigation for the “embezzlement of public funds”.

Anti-drug operation - As part of a major anti-drug operation in Nice eight people have been arrested and taken into police custody. The investigation which opened on September 14th, saw police raid different districts of the city on Tuesday December 5th, with searches leading to the seizure of approximately 188kg of cannabis, 17kg of cocaine, as well as the sum of 492,000 euros, two handguns and a shotgun. Those arrested are being questioned by the police and can be kept in custody for a maximum of four days.

Second-hand Christmas - According to a recent study two in five French people plan to give a second-hand gift this Christmas. For financial or environmental reasons, more and more French people are considering giving second -hand present at Christmas, according to an IFOP study for Le Bon Coin. Formerly frowned upon or considered stingy, the practice is now acceptable with 83% of people who have received a second-hand gift saying they have not been disappointed or sad.

Most of the second-hand gifts are books (64%), toys (56%) and clothing (49%). At the bottom of the ranking are household appliances (16%), tools (14%) and kitchen utensils (11%). Younger generations are more likely to offer items that have already been used: 62% of those aged 18-24 and 55% of those aged 25-49 compared to 24% of those aged 65 and over. The study also showed that the Christmas shopping frenzy is losing ground as the French reject the excesses and over-consumption, changing their purchasing behaviour and attitude towards the festive season.

New figures - New figures show small and medium businesses in the south of France are generally performing well - with unemployment at its lowest level in more than 10 years, at 7.8%. According to Pôle Emploi, the number of people out of work in the PACA region has fallen for eight consecutive quarters. Figures released this week by the PACA regional chamber of commerce show turnover at the region's businesses is slightly up over the first nine months of this year, at €225 billion. The stats cover every sector except maritime transport, which was taken out of the overall calculation because it had suffered particularly badly.

Ski resorts - The Mercantour's ski resorts have confirmed they'll be open to the public from this weekend. Auron, Saint-Dalmas and Isola 2000 had been due to open last weekend, but this was delayed due to a lack of snow. With an abundance of snow falling this week the resorts' ski lifts will be operating from this coming Saturday.

Sailboat from film Napoleon has docked in Toulon - A sailboat from the film Napoleon by Ridley Scott will be stopping in the port of Toulon. The King's Star, an impressive replica of an 18th century ship, appears several times in Ridley Scott's film and has arrived on the region’s coastline. The ship was built in 1996 for a British television series and was subsequently regularly used in other films.

Who wants to be a millionaire? - Finally, who wants to be a millionaire? As the jackpot of 218 million euros on Tuesday has not been won and will therefore roll over to this Friday with 240 million euros up for grabs, making it the largest sum ever put into play in a EuroMillions draw. On Tuesday no player chose the winning numbers 4-6-20-24-25 and the two stars 5 and 9. In France, three players had the five correct numbers but only one lucky star. They still won nearly 150,000 euros.

However, don’t forget that the chances of winning these jackpots remains limited: a player has approximately one chance in 140 million of winning the jackpot compared to the risk of being bitten by a shark, which is one in five million. In total, 9 countries participate in the EuroMillions, and the top 3 countries which win the most follow the order of the most populated countries, namely the United Kingdom, France and Spain.


The European Parliament and the member states of the European Union (EU) have announced an agreement to end the destruction of new, unsold clothing and to strengthen the eco-design of many consumer goods so that they are easier to repair, maintain and recycle. The new legislation, proposed by the European Commission in March 2022, sets new requirements in the design of products to limit their impact on the environment, make them more reliable, reusable, and repairable, but also easier to recycle and more efficient in in terms of resources consumed. Among the new measures the destruction of unsold clothing and shoes will be prohibited. The measure will take effect two years after the law comes into force. A six-year period is granted to medium-sized companies, while small companies will be exempt. Furthermore, large companies will have to reveal each year the volume of products discarded and provide explanations to justify this practice, in the hope of encouraging them to give up it. Motor vehicles are excluded from the new legislation as they are already covered by specific regulations. European employers welcomed the agreement reached on Tuesday while worrying about new administrative red tape. However, the text, negotiated for several months by the EU, will still have to be formally approved by MEPs and by the member states.

Supermarket chains Intermarché and Auchan have announced their merger with the aim to create the first French purchasing centre. In a press release on Tuesday the two brands said they wished to form an alliance “on the purchase of consumer food products from major national brands” but also on “the purchase of non-food products”. The project aims to create the first French purchasing centre in order to best defend the interests of consumers.

And - K-pop superstars Blackpink have renewed their agency contract as a group, ensuring that the quartet will continue to perform together. This follows months of contract negotiations that have left millions of fans around the world on edge. In a statement YG Entertainment said "an exclusive contract for group activities based on strong trust" has been signed. Blackpink, formed in 2016, have become the world's biggest K-pop girl group.


Football – England have thrashed Scotland 6-0 in their final Women's Nations League group match, but it was not enough to top the table after the Netherlands scored two injury-time goals against Belgium to deny them in a dramatic finish.

It means the Dutch are through to the Nations League semi-finals and, as a result of England's exit, Team GB now will not be in the Paris 2024 Olympics football competition.

On Tuesday in the Premier League Wolves beat Burnley 1-0 and Luton lost at home to Arsenal 4-3. In the Premier League this evening with a 8.30pm kick off French time, Brighton are at home to Brentford, Crystal Palace play Bournemouth, Fulham face Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United are at home to Liverpool and with a 9.15pm kick off time French time Aston Villa play Manchester City and Manchester United are at home to Chelsea.

And - Argentina and Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi has been named Time magazine's Athlete of the Year. Messi joined Miami in July and scored 11 goals in 14 games in all competitions to help them lift the Leagues Cup, their first ever trophy. The 36-year-old also won the Ballon d'Or for the eighth time in October.

Cricket – In an attempt to avoid the negativity of social media England's Harry Brook has deleted all social media apps. The 24-year-old who made a superb start in international cricket, playing starring roles in Test cricket and winning the T20 World Cup in November 2022 said he’s been off social media for a while and that he thinks it’s helped his game.


Mainly fine with highs of 13 degrees in Monaco and Nice. 14 degrees in Cannes, 12 degrees in Saint-Tropez and 9 degrees in Marseille. A moderate wind across the region. This evening going down to 4 degrees in Nice and -2 degrees in Marseille with clear skies.

The outlook for tomorrow, fine with highs of 13 degrees. Friday heavy rain is forecast with strong winds in the Var and highs of 12 degrees.

Sunrise       07.48am

Sunset        04.53pm


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