Hundreds detained as Paris braces for “yellow vest” protests
Clad in their luminous road safety jackets, dozens of demonstrators – who accuse President Emmanuel Macron of only looking out for the rich – gathered at dawn on the Champs-Elysees, the scene last Saturday of the worst rioting in Paris for decades.
“We had to come to Paris to be heard,” said protester Herve Benoit, arriving with three friends from the Dordogne in western France.
He called on the government to boost people’s spending power and increase taxes on the wealthiest.
By 8.40 am (0740 GMT) police had already detained 278 people.
Some 8,000 police were deployed, carrying out checks on people arriving at train stations and at protest hotspots such as the Champs-Elysees and Bastille monument.
A source close to the operation told AFP that at least 34 people were arrested for carrying masks, hammers, slingshots and rocks that could be used to attack police.
Shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and many metro stations were closed as much of the city-centre went on effective lockdown. Top-flight football matches and concerts were cancelled.
Macron had previously vowed to stay the course in his bid to shake up the French economy and not be swayed by mass protests that have forced previous presidents to back down.