Weather-Both the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var have been placed on an orange weather alert with heavy rain and localised flooding forecast across the region today.
The prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes has ordered all schools and public parks to be closed as a precaution so the school holidays are starting a day ahead of schedule for pupils.
There’s a high avalanche risk for mountain areas and motorists are advised to make sure that they’re winter gear such as snow chains and tyres are in good condition before setting out.
The bad weather should start to move away during the course of the afternoon and mainly fine conditions are forecast for the weekend.
Ski stations-The prefect of the Alpes Maritimes has also ordered the region’s ski stations to close today because of the high avalanche risk.
The prefecture says that the safety of skiers can’t be guaranteed in the current conditions and that ski lifts will not be able to operate.
Stations will open again once the bad weather has passed.
Big getaway-Extra strain is expected on the region’s roads this afternoon with the start of the big getaway for the Christmas holidays.
The A8 motorway is forecast to be saturated with traffic from mid-afternoon and there’s likely to be heavy congestion around major towns and cities.
The French road monitor Bison Fute is advising motorists to put journeys off until tomorrow or Sunday if possible with the added precaution of treacherous driving conditions in places because of heavy rain and localised flooding.
Strikes-The government and trade unions have failed to reach a breakthrough in talks to end the three week old public transport strike that’s been seriously affecting services.
Trains will be in short supply again today as unions refuse to bow to government pension reforms.
There will be some improvement to TGV services today but regional services will once again be hit.
The SNCF rail operator says that only half of its normal services will be running over the weekend with 40 percent of services operating on Monday and Christmas Eve.
Sporadic industrial action by postal workers means that some Christmas deliveries will not be made while flights should be operating normally although some cancellations are a possibility.
People due to fly over the next few days are advised to contact their airline.
Trade unions have called for another day of national strike action on January the 9th.
In National News.
Weather-Central and southern parts of the country are on high alert for strong winds and heavy rain.
Weather warnings were issued for parts of central and southern France
with winds of 100km/h or more set to batter much of the country while the south east was once again braced for flooding.
On Thursday the country's weather agency issued orange alerts - the second highest weather warning - for much of central France and parts of the Pyrenees in the south west with high winds forecast to lash the regions.
The departments placed on alert were: Loire, Haute-Loire, Rhône, Ain, Allier, Ardèche, Ariège, Cantal, Côte-d’Or, Drôme, Haute-Garonne, Isère, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées and Saône-et-Loire.
Météo France forecasters warned the public to expect winds of up to 120 km/h and up to 150km/h on higher ground in the Pyrenees.
Members of the public are advised to stay indoors and not to travel unless absolutely necessary. They should be aware of the danger of falling objects and trees if they do go outside.
Flights-Flights to and from France could be disrupted in early January as air crew and pilots threaten to join in mass transportation strikes against the government's planned pension reforms.
Some unions representing Air France ground crew have joined the strike, as well as a limited number of air traffic controllers which saw the cancellation of around 20 percent of flights on specific protest days in early December before services largely returned to normal.
Pilots and flight crew have so far not been involved, but that could be about to change.
On Thursday several unions representing air crew, including the SNPL, called on members to walk out on Friday, January 3rd, possibly for an unlimited period.
Air crew unions had been having their own discussions with the government over the matter of retirement age - at present flight attendants can retire at the age of 55 and pilots at 60.
Andrew Bailey has emerged as the frontrunner to become the next governor of the Bank of England.
An announcement by the Treasury, which is in charge of the appointment, is expected on Friday.
Mr Bailey, 60, is currently chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City watchdog.
If named, he will become the 121st governor of the Bank of England and will take over from Mark Carney who steps down on 31 January.
The Treasury declined to comment.
The search for the new governor began in April and Mr Bailey was an early favourite for the job.
The Bank of England has kept interest rates on hold at 0.75% but indicated it may cut the cost of borrowing if global economic growth fails to recover or Brexit uncertainties persist.
It said the UK economy was expected to pick up from its current weakness.
However, the Bank said it would monitor companies' and households' reactions to Brexit as well as global growth.
The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 7-2 in favour of keeping the official rate on hold.
"If global growth fails to stabilise or if Brexit uncertainties remain entrenched, monetary policy may need to reinforce the expected recovery in GDP growth and inflation," the committee said in a statement.
And-The accommodation-booking service Airbnb does not need an estate agent's licence to operate in France, Europe's top court has ruled.
The French tourism association had complained that Airbnb did not comply with French property laws.
It means the app's users avoid a threat of disruption to its service in the country.
Had the court ruled the other way it would have served as a precedent for other EU regulators.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)'s decision was based on its determination that Airbnb was an "information society service" rather than a property broker.
The judges involved also drew a distinction between Airbnb and Uber on the basis of how much control the property-booking app had over transactions on its service.
Football-Mikel Arteta is expected to be named as Arsenal's new manager on Friday.
Arteta said his farewells to staff at Manchester City on Thursday morning.
There has been annoyance at City over Arsenal's conduct but they will not stop Arteta, 37, succeeding Unai Emery.
A seven-figure compensation payment will be made in order for the move to be completed.
In the English Premier League this weekend.On Saturday Everton play Arsenal.Aston Villa play Southampton.Bournemouth face Burnley.Brighton host Sheffield United.Newcastle play Crystal Palace.Norwich play Wolves and Manchester City play Leicester.
On Sunday Watford play Manchester United and Spurs host Chelsea.
Cricket-Several members of England's touring party are ill with flu-like symptoms, a week before the start of the Boxing Day first Test in South Africa.
The conditions of Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Jack Leach, all absent from this week's warm-up match, have worsened, while "two to three" other players have also fallen ill.
England said that two members of their backroom staff have similar symptoms.
They added that they hope to see improvements within the next 72 hours.
Rugby Union-Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has announced his retirement from international rugby after 76 caps.
The 34-year-old Clermont scrum-half is second on the all-time points list for Scotland with 714.
Laidlaw has led the national team 39 times, more than anyone else, and becomes the third senior player to quit the national team after the World Cup.
There’s one game in the Gallagher Premiership tonight.Gloucester play Worcester.
ORANGE WEATHER ALERT IN FORCE FOR THE ALPES-MARITIMES AND THE VAR.
Heavy rain with strong southerly winds and the risk of flooding in low lying areas.
Top temperature 15 degrees.
Overnight lows of 10 degrees on the coast and 8 degrees inland with clear skies.
The weekend-Fine tomorrow with a high of 16-some rain overnight into Sunday then fine and sunny with a high of 17.