France

New Caledonia again rejects independence from France

Just over 53 percent of the electorate opted for the status quo in the second of three possible referendums under the Noumea Accord.

180,000 voters, who are on a roll restricted to indigenous Kanaks and long-term residents, were allowed to decide whether the territory should assume full sovereignty.

The results showed a sharp divide between the two camps, with some communes voting with more than 90 percent either for or against independence.

Floods and landslides hit France and Italy

Named Alex, the storm brought fierce winds and torrential rain.

A number of villages north of Nice in France suffered serious damage from floods and landslides, with roads, bridges and homes destroyed.

In north-western Italy, flooding was described as "historic". A section of a bridge over the Sesia river collapsed.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has deployed the army and released emergency funds to tackle the worst floods for decades in south-eastern France.

Up to 20 people are either missing or have not checked in with relatives.

France sets daily record with almost 10,000 new cases

Health authorities reported 9,843 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Thursday, surpassing the previous daily record by almost 900.

The figures were released on the eve of a key meeting of ministers and health experts about toughening measures.

France has the seventh-highest Covid-19 death toll in the world.

More than 30,800 people in the country have died of coronavirus.

Maurice the noisy French cockerel dies aged six

He gained international support - and became a symbol of campaigns to protect the sounds of the French countryside - after finding himself at the centre of a legal dispute over noise pollution.

But in 2019, a court ruled in Maurice's favour and lived out the rest of his days at home on the isle of Oléron.

The bird reportedly died in May but his owner waited to break the news.

Vanuatu and France eye closer cooperation

Fournier met Prime Minister, Bob Loughman Tuesday in Port Vila.

They have expressed common views that Vanuatu and France are brothers for a long time, even before Vanuatu's independence in 1980.

PM Loughman assured Ambassador Fournier that Vanuatu will continue to engage with France directly or through New Caledonia to enhance their cordial relationship and promote each others interests.

Cameras to monitor masks and social distancing

The resort city of Cannes on the Côte d'Azur has trialled the monitoring software, installed at outdoor markets and on buses.

It is not clear how many other cities will adopt this digital surveillance.

French firm Datakalab says its software does not violate EU data privacy law.

"No image is stored or transmitted, ensuring that personal information is protected," Datakalab said, announcing its collaboration with Cannes city hall, ahead of the 11 May relaxation of France's tough lockdown.

France to increase Covid-19 testing to 700,000 a week in lockdown exit strategy

The government had set itself a goal of carrying out at least 700,000 tests per week, he said. Once a person tests positive, tracing would begin to identify, test and isolate all those who had been in close contact with the individual.

"When we end the lockdown, we will have the capacity to massively scale up testing," Philippe said in an address to parliament.

He said the lockdown had saved tens of thousands of lives but that the time had come to ease the unprecedented peacetime restrictions and rescue an economy in free-fall.

Coronavirus: Notre-Dame repairs restart amid lockdown

A fire tore through the iconic medieval building last April, destroying its roof and spire but leaving its structure intact.

President Emmanuel Macron later vowed to restore the building within five years.

The global coronavirus pandemic forced officials to delay the planned start of reconstruction on 23 March.

But on Monday, workers returned to the construction site to make it compliant with new social distancing rules.

Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, the rector at Notre-Dame, says this includes modifying changing rooms and showers for workers.

Germany and France announce strict measures to stem spread of coronavirus

French President Emmanuel Macron announced an enforced lockdown, a step similar to curbs imposed by Italy and Spain, saying: "We're in a health war".

Mr Macron also said the European Union's external borders would be closed to travellers from Tuesday.

In Germany, most non-grocery shops and venues have been ordered to shut.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also banned religious services and told people to cancel any domestic or foreign holiday travel. Schools across the country have already been shut.

Wales 23-27 France

Wales fought back to consign 14-man Les Bleus to a heartbreaking Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat in Oita four months ago, but secured a first win in Cardiff for a decade on Saturday.

Clinical in attack and resolute in defence, thanks in no small part to former Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards, France left the Welsh's hopes of winning back-to-back Six Nations titles in tatters.

Anthony Bouthier scored his first Test try and Paul Willemse also went over in a first half that ended with Fabien Galthie's inspired side deservedly leading 19-7.