French & Riviera News - Monday, January 29th

FARMERS ANGER

French farmers are set to launch an indefinite "siege" of Paris starting today, choking off major highways and moving toward the capital as they demand better working conditions.

They plan to create eight major blockages on the routes to the capital, using tractors and trucks to express their frustrations over excessive regulations and environmental policies, which they believe undermine their competitiveness.

The government is responding by deploying 15,000 police and gendarmes to maintain order, ensuring key locations like airports and the Rungis food market remain accessible.

Despite efforts to address the farmers' grievances, with Prime Minister Gabriel Attal promising swift action, the leading agricultural union, FNSEA, is demanding more substantial changes. The tension continues as road blockades disrupt travel, and the government's initial measures are deemed insufficient by critics, including opposition leaders.


ERIC CIOTTI'S RESPONSE

Éric Ciotti, the leader of the Republicans party, has advocated for a minimum monthly income of 1,500 euros net for farmers, criticizing the government's responses as "ridiculously weak". In an interview with "Le Journal du Dimanche", Ciotti proposes financial support for farmers living below the poverty line, insisting that no farmer should earn less than 1,500 euros net per month.

He suggests funding this initiative by heavily penalizing distributors who fail to adhere to laws ensuring minimum prices for agricultural products and by cutting ineffective expenditures, such as certain urban policy aids.

M. Ciotti also calls for an end to free trade agreements that threaten agriculture and proposes banning imports from countries that do not meet France's social and environmental standards

 

MONA LISA ATTACK

Environmental protesters caused a stir at the Louvre in Paris by throwing soup at the Mona Lisa to highlight the need for "healthy and sustainable food."

The incident, carried out by the group Riposte Alimentaire, aimed to draw attention to food security issues and advocate for a monthly food card for citizens.

Despite the dramatic act, the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting remained unharmed, thanks to its protective glass. The museum was briefly evacuated but reopened after cleaning.

The French Minister for Culture condemned the protest, emphasizing that heritage like the Mona Lisa is invaluable to future generations.

 

OPERATION ESCARGOT

We can expect significant traffic disruptions in Nice today, as taxi drivers engage in a slow-driving protest against a Social Security financing bill provision that may impact their earnings. The so-called snail tactics “Operation Excargot”, organized by the Cannes Taxi Union (STI 06), the Alpes-Maritimes Taxi Union, and the Independent Taxi Federation (FTI 06), follows a previous demonstration on December 11th. The protest will see two convoys of taxis converging on the Alpes-Maritimes administrative center in west Nice before heading to the local health insurance office in north Nice. The first convoy will depart from Cannes Mandelieu Aerodrome at 7 AM, taking the A8 motorway, while the second will start from east Nice, both aiming to reach their destination between 8 and 8:30 AM. The dispute centers around new contractual terms with the Primary Health Insurance Fund, which taxi drivers fear will reduce their income from medical transport services, a significant revenue source for many.

 

PYJAMA PROTEST

Protesters in Nice have donned their pajamas to call for the expansion of night train services.

The demonstration, organized by the "Yes to the Night Train" collective, follows similar actions in Rennes and Marseille.

Participants gathered at Thiers station this yesterday, calling for more sleeper cars to various destinations within France and across Europe.

Highlighting the success of the Nice-Paris night train, which has seen a doubling of passengers since 2021, the protesters demand the reintroduction of direct night routes that were discontinued in 2008, such as Nice to Venice, Rome, and Naples.

Citing a state-published study, the collective emphasizes the need for 600 new sleeper cars to revive a network of 25 night train lines, underscoring the economic, practical, and ecological benefits of such travel

 

NEW LANGUAGE CONTROLS

Among the new controls introduced with France’s new immigration law is stricter language requirements for foreigners seeking residency. Passed after significant political debate, the law aims to control immigration and enhance integration.

Key changes include the introduction of French tests for various residency permits. Applicants for multi-year permits must now demonstrate A2 level proficiency in French, a slight step above beginner level.

Those aiming for the 10-year residency card need B1 level skills, considered intermediate, while individuals seeking French citizenship must reach a higher intermediate level of B2. This move, initiated by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, addresses concerns that a significant portion of foreign residents struggle with the French language, aiming to improve both communication and integration within the country.

 

STE DEVOTE

This weekend saw the people of Monaco celebrate their patron saint, Sainte Dévote. A weekend of celebrations included the symbolic burning of the boat ceremony, which commemorates the arrival on the shores of Monaco of the body of Sainte Dévote, a young girl from Corsica who was persecuted for her Christian faith in the fourth century. Today is a bank holiday in Monaco.

 

SKI ACCIDENT

An 8-year-old child has lost his life following a skiing accident on Saturday. The accident occurred at the Grand-Bornand ski resort in Haute-Savoie. The young skier veered off a blue slope and tragically ended up on a closed black run due to icy conditions, leading to a fatal fall.

Despite the swift response of the resort's ski patrol, who managed to resuscitate the child initially, he was pronounced dead after being airlifted to the CHU hospital in Grenoble. An investigation has been launched by the High Mountain Gendarmerie of Annecy to determine the precise circumstances of the accident. 

 

BINGE DRINKING

Binge drinking is still a major public health issue in France, despite a reduction in daily alcohol consumption. A new study by Santé Publique France reveals that the average adult in France consumes 10.5 liters of pure alcohol annually, outpacing counterparts in Spain, Germany, and the UK. Daily drinkers have decreased to just 8% of the population, thanks in part to reduced wine consumption and proactive public policies. However, the rate of binge drinking, especially among women over 35, remains steady or is increasing. While older individuals drink less frequently, the youth compensate with quantity, doubling the intake per occasion compared to their elders. It’s estimated that alcohol-related issues cause 41,000 deaths, including 8% of new cancer cases.

 

FRANCE’S MOST LIVEABLE TOWNS

Where is the best place to live in France? Well, according to a new study, the honour goes to a mountain village near Grenoble.

The picturesque mountain commune of Villard-de-Lans, offers breath-taking views and an abundance of leisure activities. It tops the list ahead of Gérardmer in Vosges, known for its serene beauty and vibrant community life. Vence was the highest ranked town in Alpes Maritimes ahead of, Menton and Valbonne, while in the Var, the honour goes to Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume ahead of Seillans.

The rankings have been complied by VilledeReve.fr, who sifted through over 34,900 towns across France, evaluating a myriad of factors from healthcare to sports facilities.

 

SPORT

Tennis

In a stunning turn of events at the Australian Open final, 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner claimed his first Grand Slam title by overcoming a two-set deficit to defeat Daniil Medvedev.

The match, which lasted nearly four hours, saw Sinner mount an incredible comeback, winning 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

This victory came after Sinner's remarkable win against Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, ensuring a new champion in Melbourne.

Medvedev has now lost five of his six major finals, including a heartbreaker against Rafael Nadal in 2022.

Sinners win, marked by a forehand winner and emotional celebrations, has fulfilled the high expectations many had for the young talent, making him one of the sport's most exciting prospects.

 

Rohan Bopanna

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. Many congratulations to Rohan Bopanna, a good friend of the SunKiss team, who has finally become a tennis Grand Slam champion at the 61st attempt, and the World Number 1 doubles player at the age of 43.

His victory in the doubles final in the Australian Open with partner Mathew Edben, means Rohan has broken a number of records, including the most attempts before winning a mens grand slam doubles title and the oldest man to win a grand slam doubles title. 

Rohan is a popular figure on the tennis circuit and in Monaco, performing regularly at the Players Show that takes place every year during the Rolex Tennis Masters, where players show off their hidden talents performing on-stage in Monaco to other players.

 

Football

It was FA Cup weekend in England – and in a dramatic weekend, we saw the good, the bad and the ugly side of Football. Non-league Maidstone United produced the shock of the round with a 2-1 win over Championship highflyers Ipswich Town. Yesterday, Liverpool comfortably beat Norwich 5-2 to set up a home tie against either Watfordof Southampton who drew 1-1 yesterday. MAN UNITED NEWPORT Wolves 2-0 victory at West Brom was marred by disgraceful crowd trouble that forced the match to be halted for 30 minutes late in the second half. Fighting erupted close to the area in the stands reserved for the players' families, while missiles were also thrown by both sets of supporters following the visitors' second goal.

Nice beat Metz 1-0 consolidating 2nd place in the league, while Monaco earnt a brave 2-2 draw in Marseille, despite going down to 9 men. Monaco stay 4th.

 

AFCON Cup

DR Congo produced the latest shock at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations by knocking seven-time champions Egypt out to reach the quarter-finals following a 1-1 draw after extra time. Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi scored the 18th penalty to win a  nerve-shredding shoot-8-7

They will play Guinea in the Quarter fiunals who edged past Equitorial Guinea with a goal in the 98th minute. Equitorial Guinea had a man sent off in the 55th minute and missed a penalty.

 

Cricket

In an exhilarating climax to the first test between India and England, England clinched a remarkable 28-run victory in Hyderabad, defying expectations with one of their finest away wins. Ollie Pope's masterful 196 and debutant Tom Hartley's stunning 7-62 spell were pivotal in setting a challenging 231-run target for India. Despite a strong start, India faltered, getting bowled out for 202 in a nail-biting finish on the fourth day. This victory is particularly noteworthy given England's inexperienced attack and the overcoming of a significant first-innings deficit. England captain, Ben Stokes, described it as England’ greatest triumph since he has been captain.

 

American Football

The San Francisco 49ers produced a thrilling fightback to set up a Super Bowl rematch with the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas.

Defending champions Kansas City won the first of Sunday's Conference Championship games, beating the Baltimore Ravens 17-10 to reach the NFL's big game for a fourth time in five years.

The Detroit Lions, one of just four NFL teams never to play in the Super Bowl, then led 24-7 at half-time against five-time winners San Francisco. But the 49ers scored 17 points in a dramatic eight-minute span to draw level, before going in front for the first time with just under 10 minutes left.

The hosts then held on to win 34-31 and set up a repeat of Super Bowl 54, when Kansas City beat San Francisco 31-20 in Miami.

 

Golf

Matthieu Pavon won the Farmers Insurance Open to become the first French player to win on the PGA Tour since Arnaud Massy in 1907.

The 31-year-old PGA Tour rookie was playing in his 11th Tour event and shot a three-under-par round of 69 to win by one shot at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

 

Handball

France are European Champions in Handball:

In a nail-biting finale, the French team triumphed over reigning world champions Denmark in the European Handball Championship last night in Cologne, securing their fourth European title and their first in a decade. The match, filled with suspense, was decided in the final moments of an intense overtime, ending 33-31 in favor of France.

Coach Guillaume Gille, who made history by winning a Euro both as a player and a coach, praised his team's resilience and fighting spirit. This victory serves as revenge following their loss to Denmark in the 2023 World Championship.

 

Motorsport

Thierry Neuville produced some of his finest driving in the French Alps to see off Sebastien Ogier and win the opening round of the World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo on Sunday.

The Belgian began the day with a slender 3.3 second lead over Ogier but he powered his Hyundai over the ice-patched mountain roads to a sweep of fastest times in Sunday’s final leg, extending that lead to 16.1sec. 

It was the 20th win in Neuville's career and his second in the Monte Carlo Rally.

 

BUSINESS

CHINA

China has introduced stricter regulations in its financial industry, aiming to stabilize the plummeting stock market in response to a severe sell-off impacting the world's second-largest economy. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is enforcing new measures to ensure a more equitable market, particularly by limiting "short-selling" activities starting today.

This move follows a nearly $6 trillion loss in Chinese and Hong Kong stocks over the last three years. The government's crackdown extends to the real estate sector and shadow banking, with recent actions including the liquidation of property giant Evergrande. These steps come amid broader economic challenges, including slowing growth, declining exports, record youth unemployment, and rising local government debt, signaling a concerted effort to shore up confidence in China's financial markets and broader economic stability.

 

EVERGRANDE

The Chinese property giant Evergrande has been ordered to undergo liquidation by a Hong Kong court. This decision comes after Evergrande failed to present a viable debt restructuring plan, exacerbating concerns in China's already troubled real estate sector. With liabilities surpassing $325 billion, the company's financial troubles have had far-reaching impacts on global markets. The liquidation order could potentially lead to the selling off of Evergrande's assets to repay debts, although the process's effectiveness may be influenced by the Chinese government's actions. This development follows a new agreement between China and Hong Kong on legal cooperation, raising questions about the enforcement of the liquidation order. Evergrande's shares plummeted by over 20% following the announcement, leading to a suspension of trading. The situation underscores the complexities of managing large-scale corporate insolvencies across jurisdictions, especially within China's unique legal landscape.

 

TESLA

Tesla's shares plummeted over 12% following a warning of weaker sales growth in 2024 compared to 2023, erasing about $80 billion from its market value. Despite price cuts in major markets and facing stiff competition from Chinese firms like BYD, Tesla's growth projections have dimmed. The company's recent earnings fell short of expectations, with profit margins affected by discounts, higher R&D spending, and costs linked to the new Cybertruck production. Tesla is navigating a period before initiating production of a new, more affordable vehicle in the latter half of next year. Elon Musk highlighted the threat from Chinese competitors, suggesting the need for trade barriers to protect against them. This slowdown warning marks a shift from Tesla's previous rapid growth, contributing to a significant decline in its stock value this year.

 

AVON

Beauty giant Avon is facing criticism for its continued operations in Russia amidst the Ukraine conflict. Despite international pressures, Avon is actively recruiting new sales agents and sustaining production in its substantial Moscow region facility. The UK-headquartered company, with a 137-year history, emphasizes its role in supporting the livelihoods of women in Russia through its business.

Avon, known for its door-to-door sales and recently for its shift towards physical stores and social media, had ceased investments and suspended exports from Russia to other markets at the conflict's onset. Nevertheless, the BBC investigation reveals ongoing recruitment efforts in Russia, with enticing incentives for new agents. Avon's parent company, Natura & Co, insists on maintaining local operations to back its sales force, highlighting the significant impact product restriction could have on women and children in the region.

 

WEATHER

Beautiful sunshine to start the week, with temperatures 5 to 6°C above the seasonal average.

A high-pressure weather system will ensure clear skies and no precipitation, maintaining spring-like conditions throughout the region.

Light winds & highs of 17 along the coast in Monaco/Cannes, 16° inland around Grasse

Similar conditions in the Var towards St Tropez with occasional hazy spells this afternoon. Highs of 17 in St Tropez, 16 around Draguignan

Tonight clear skies, light winds and overnight lows of 8°

Looking good all week with no sign of any rain and plenty of sunshine particularly on Wednesday and Friday

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