All eyes on Macron after fresh ‘yellow vest’ protests hit Paris

Paris and other cities across France, including Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse, take stock after a fourth weekend of nationwide protests against rising living costs and President Macron in general

A protester wearing a “yellow vest” (gilet jaune) holds a baseball bat reading “Come closer Macron, I have something to tell you”
A protester wearing a “yellow vest” (gilet jaune) holds a baseball bat reading “Come closer Macron, I have something to tell you”

A huge clean-up operation is under way in Paris on Sunday after French “yellow vest” demonstrators clashed with riot police in the latest round of protests against President Emmanuel Macron, but a heavy security deployment averted a repeat of last week’s destruction.

Protesters nonetheless set fire to cars, burned barricades and smashed windows in pockets of violence across the city center, clad in their emblematic luminous safety jackets, as armored vehicles rolled through the streets.

The embattled president — whose name rang out across the Champs-Elysees as protesters shouted “Macron, resign” — is expected to address the demonstrations in a much-anticipated speech in the coming days.

Clashes broke out in cities across France, including Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse, during a fourth weekend of nationwide protests against rising living costs and Macron in general.

But it was Paris which again bore the brunt of the violence and destruction.

“Dozens of shopkeepers have fallen victim to hooligans,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted. “Once again, this is deplorable.”

Thick plumes of black smoke from fires rose high into the sky as police fired tear gas, while numerous shops and a Starbucks cafe were ransacked.

“The weather is crap and so is this government,” a handful of protesters chanted as light rain began to fall. It turned to downpours by mid-evening, scattering many of the remaining demonstrators.

The outbreaks of violence were on a smaller scale than the destruction and looting of a week earlier, when some 200 cars were torched in the worst rioting in Paris in decades.

The government had vowed “zero tolerance” for anarchist, far-right or other trouble-makers seeking to wreak further havoc at protests that have sparked the deepest crisis of Macron’s presidency.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe congratulated police for the operation, and promised Macron would address the protesters’ concerns.

“The dialogue has begun and it must continue,” Philippe said. “The president will speak, and will propose measures that will feed this dialogue.”

Police reinforcements were boosted to 8,000 across the city, with armored vehicles deployed in Paris for the first time.

Shops along the Champs-Elysees and central department stores stayed shut with their windows boarded up to avoid looting.

The Eiffel Tower, major museums and many metro stations were also closed as parts of Paris went on effective lockdown.

More than 670 protesters were detained in the capital, many of them stopped as they arrived at train stations or meeting points carrying hammers, petanque balls and other potential missiles.

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