Monaco gears up for month of rallying

The Monte-Carlo Rally and the Historic Monte-Carlo Rally return to the streets of the Principality later this month, kickstarting Monaco’s packed sporting schedule in 2023.

A fortnight of racing begins on 16th January with the Grand Départ of the 91st edition of the Monte-Carlo Rally, which launches the World Rally Car (WRC) season. Beginning in Saint-Agnès, the highest coastal village in Europe, the grid will, over the course of a week of intense racing, make their way through the Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region.

The challenge itself has been heavily modified for the latest edition, with 50% of the itinerary different to last year. However, it will conclude in traditional fashion: with the competitors crossing the line in Monaco on Sunday afternoon before the podium ceremony in Casino Square. The professionals in the event will have their eyes on the top prize and will look to follow in the slipstream of the great Sebastien Loeb, who won last year’s event.

Motorsport fans will then need to wait just two days before getting their next fix of racing action.

An event for amateurs, participants of the 25th edition of the Historic Monte-Carlo Rally will begin their journey from five different destinations, all of which are classic courses on the WRC calendar. Over the course of a week, iconic cars of the past will make their way from Bad Homburg, Oslo, London, Turin and Reims to Monaco.

Arriving in Monaco on 27th January, the grid will then tackle multiple challenges on the tricky mountain roads of the surrounding region. They will then return to Monaco on 1st January, where the successors to last year’s winners, Philippe and Antoine Cornet de Ways Ruart, will be crowned in a ceremony in the Salle des Etoiles.

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Photo credit: PushingPace

New Crit’Air rules and the sticker scam to avoid

Starting this year, vehicles in Nice with Crit’Air stickers 4 and 5 will be prevented from entering the city centre, upping the eco ante for commercial drivers using diesel cars and trucks pre-dating 2000.

Since 1st January 2022, the most polluting commercial and professional vehicles have been banned from driving in Nice’s city centre as a way to keep pollution levels down.

At the time, all commercial vehicles were issued a Crit’Air sticker to be affixed in their vehicles, with the Crit’Air 5 label being the worst. Now the city is expanding its anti-pollution fight to those who have Crit’Air 4 stickers. These newly restricted vehicles are primarily pre-2000 diesels, which are said to concern roughly 300 trucks.

The area of the city involved runs from the Promenade des Anglais to the south, the Voie Mathis to the north, Carabacel/Désambrois to the east and Boulevard Grosso to the west. Entering this zone with a Crit’Air 4 or 5 sticker, or without one at all, commands a fine of up to €450 euros, though the usual ticket issued is €68.

As reported by Monaco Life in 2022, the Crit’Air system is best described as an air quality certificate that classifies vehicles as “green” for all electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles, or on a sliding scale of 1 through to 5 according to the “fine particles and levels of nitrogen oxide that they emit” for other types. They are obligatory for all vehicles in designated low emission zones, such as the city centre of Nice, but can be applied to additional areas if local authorities decide to introduce emissions-based traffic restrictions during periods of high pollution.

Alongside with the new rules, a new scam has been circulating, with numerous people reportedly receiving the text message: “Crit’Air: our agents have found that your vehicle did not have the Crit’Air 2022 regulatory sticker. Please recover it under penalty of a fine within the next 48 hours.” There is an accompanying link that directs unsuspecting users to a fake site to obtain the sticker.

The French government is now reminding people that the only way to obtain the sticker is via the official website of at a cost of €3.70.

Those who receive a fraudulent message are advised not to reply and to report any emails to “Signal Spam” or to 33 700 for text messages.


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Photo source: Mitchel Willem Jacob for Unsplash 

Poor snowfall endangers future of French ski resorts

Rain, not snow, is falling on many of France’s mountains, turning the pistes of almost half of the country’s ski resorts to slush or worse. It’s a disaster for the industry, which had been hoping for a good season after last year’s disappointment.

Warmer than usual weather across Europe is to blame for the closures, and although the outlook is more promising in the coming days, some resorts in the Pyrenees, Vosges and Jura will be starting from zero after sunshine and rain helped melt away the snow that had fallen in November and December. 

“The thaw has affected all the French massifs,” François Gaillard, the director of France Montagnes, told radio station franceinfo. “Today, only around 50% of the slopes are open with obvious disparities depending on the altitudes and exposure of the ski areas.”

Resorts above 2,000 metres – notably in the Alps and southeastern France – have fared better than those at lower altitudes. Despite many of their alpine villages being bare of snow, pistes in the popular local resorts of Isola 2000, Auron, Valberg, La Colmiane and Allos are by and large open for skiing. 

Others in the region have had to adapt to the changing climatic conditions and are offering different activities, from snowshoeing to luges and treetop walks. 

Temperatures will continue to be above average for this time of year for the time being, but precipitation – and hopefully snow in the mountains – is forecast for much of the south of France this week.



Photo source: Julien Veran/Stations Nice Côte d’Azur/Facebook

New crèche opens in Testimonio II

Children were welcomed on Tuesday for the first time at Monaco’s newest crèche, located in the Elsa Tower of the mammoth Testimonio II development.

The childcare centre will be able to accommodate upto 50 children from birth to three years of age.

Located in the east of the Principality, the crèche prioritises the children of Monegasque citizens and residents of the Saint-Roman and Larvotto districts.

“The opening of this crèche is part of the priority commitments of the Municipal Council and the Town Hall of Monaco: respond favourably to the increase in demand for places available in collective crèches and offer something that is geographically better suited to the needs of families,” said the Mairie de Monaco in a statement.

The Testimonio crèche brings to 13 the number of public childcare institutions in Monaco. This year will see the opening of another one in Monaco, in Honoria Palace on Boulevard de Belgique, which will accommodate 30 infants.



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Photo: Artist rendering of crèche, source Marzocco Groupe

British poll shows mass dissatisfaction with Brexit and support for new referendum

Two years after the UK’s official break-up with the EU, a 2023 poll says that many British people think it was a huge mistake and back the idea of a new referendum on EU membership. 

There are few who will forget the day in June 2016 when it was announced that, by a razor thin majority of 52% to 48%, the UK had voted to leave the European Union. 

Known colloquially as Brexit, the wheels were then set in motion to disentangle the UK from the EU in a move that was not only unprecedented, but also controversial considering the outcome of the vote was decided by such a slim margin. Nonetheless, by the start of 2021, the negotiations were complete and the UK had officially left. 

Fast-forward to 2023 and a poll carried out by the Savanta data research group, published in UK newspaper The Independent on Sunday 1st January, has found that many people in the UK believe Brexit has been a mess, and 65% of those polled want a new vote on EU membership, compared with 55% last year. 

The poll also found that a majority of those asked thought that the country’s ability to manage itself has worsened since Brexit, with 56% thinking the economy is worse and half believing that the break-up has lessened the nation’s ability to control its borders as well as given it a black eye in terms of global standing. 

If a new referendum were called today, the poll indicates the decision would be reversed, with 54% saying Brexit was the wrong choice, compared to 46% in last year’s survey.


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Photo source: Matt Brown for Unsplash

IMF warns a third of world economy will be in recession in 2023

The International Monetary Fund has painted a bleak picture of the global economy for 2023, stating the big three economies – the USA, the EU and China – are all experiencing simultaneous slowdowns in activity that are creating knock-on effects worldwide. 

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has told the media that this year will be “tougher than the one we left behind”. 

With the EU, China and the USA – the primary growth engines of the world economy – all undergoing weaker activity, Georgieva estimates that a full third of the world will fall into recession during 2023. 

Even countries not in an official recession will feel the pinch, with Georgieva saying, “It would feel like recession for hundreds of millions of people.”

In October, the IMF lowered its economic growth expectations based on inflation, rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine, but it is China’s situation that is most concerning to the IMF boss. 

“For the first time in 40 years, China’s growth in 2022 is likely to be at or below global growth,” she said, adding, “For the next couple of months, it will be tough for China… The impact on Chinese growth will be negative, the impact on the region will be negative, the impact on global growth will be negative.” 

On a more upbeat note, Georgieva said that the US economy may be the most resilient, possibly even avoiding recession altogether, though high interest rates are likely to continue in an attempt to keep inflation at bay. 


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Photo source: NASA