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Posted: December 2, 2018
Category: WORLD NEWS
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Fresh violence in Paris as riot police use tear gas and batons










 







'This is the start of a revolution': Paris rioters steal police assault rifle, torch dozens of cars and vow to 'stay in the streets until Christmas' as fuel protests continue into the night and spread across France - and even to Holland



  • 'Yellow Vest' supporters staged fresh protests on the Champs-Elysees which leads to the Arc de Triomphe

  • They vowed to continue rioting until Christmas after riot police used tear gas and water cannon to fight back

  • Dozens of cars were torched, the Arc de Triomphe was graffitied and shops and houses were ransacked

  • French President Emmanuel Macron promised that protesters would be 'held responsible for their acts' 

  • It comes a week after rioters brought chaos to Paris in a movement against fuel prices and high living costs 


By
Peter Allen
and Tim Stickings For Mailonline
and Connor Boyd For Mailonline
and Reuters
and Afp

Published:
04:18 EST, 1 December 2018

|
Updated:
19:17 EST, 1 December 2018


The centre of Paris was on lockdown tonight after masked protesters stole an assault rifle from police, clashed with riot squads and set fire to cars and Christmas trees on the Champs-Elysees in furious demonstrations against the French government.

Protesters said today's actions were 'the start of a revolution' that would eclipse the mass strikes and occupation of universities and factories in1968 when the country was on the cusp of civil war.

Fires and clouds of tear gas covered the French capital from early morning until late in the evening, in some of the worst violence ever seen in the French capital as more than 5,000 demonstrators brought chaos to Paris for the second week running.

As so-called Yellow Vest fuel price demonstrators marched along the opulent Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe, home to embassies and luxury residences, they were joined by criminal groups included looters.

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised the protesters will be 'held responsible for their acts'.

Macron said today's demonstrations which have left dozens injured and hundreds arrested 'have nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger.' He said 'no cause justifies attacks on police or pillaging stores and burning buildings'.

Macron said he is holding an emergency government meeting Sunday on the protests. He spoke from the G20 summit being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

French police confirmed there had been at least 224 arrests today during the protests for a series of offences, ranging from violent disorder to theft. There were 110 serious injuries, including more than 20 police officers.










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A protester celebrates with his fists raised on top of a burning French police car after torching the vehicle in Paris tonight












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A 'Yellow Vest' protester stands in front of three burning cars after torching them on Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe as violent demonstrations continue into the night in Paris












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A car completely engulfed in flames is burned in front of the Arc de Triomphe as police struggle to defuse the protests in Paris












Bonfires are lit in Paris as demonstrators protest fuel tax hikes























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A protester said this was the start of a revolution, worse than the French revolution in 1968 wheremassive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories took place across France












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A demonstrator launches a bicycle at a burning police car - which has partially melted under the heat - as night falls in the French capital












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A crowd of protesters smash a shop window during chaotic protests in the French capital which show no sign of slowing down as night falls in Paris












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Rows of parked cars were torched, engulfing entire streets in smoke this evening in Paris, where at least 80 people were injured












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Protesters let off red flares and charge at riot police in the French capita las violence continued into the night












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Riot police officers stand in the middle of the damage of La Belle Armee restaurant which has been ransacked and torched in Paris tonight












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French riot police are seen locking down a street through the shattered window of the La Belle Armee restaurant which was destroyed in the protests












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Firefighters rescue two injured people laying on the ground, who were hurt during clashes in the streets of Paris tonight












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Demonstrators protect themselves from water canons fired by French riot police as they retaliated against the Yellow Vests in Paris tonight












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'Yellow Vest' demonstrators sit on deck chairs amid the violence tonight as a van can be seen burning just behind them












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A man hurls a brick next to the broken windows of the Musee de l'Orangerie and a burning vehicle on the Tuileries Garde as night falls in Paris












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A woman watches huge flames flickering outside of her window as violence erupted below her apartment in Paris












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A masked man in a yellow vest marches through the streets of the capital carrying the French flag over his shoulder after torching a van












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A demonstrator ducks down to avoid water cannons sprayed by French riot place near the Place de l'Etoile this evening












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Yellow vest and plain clothed protesters clash with French riot police in the country's capital this afternoon












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Protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, face off with French riot police during clashes at the Place de l'Etoile near the Arc de Triomphe today












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One of the 'yellow vest' protesters, wearing one of the 'gilets jaunes' after which the movement is named, waves a French flag by the Arc de Triomphe on Saturday morning












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A lone protester marches towards the chaos in front of the Arc de Triomphe waving a French, as flaming debris burns out on the street












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Firefighters try to extinguish a burning car which had been turned over and set on fire during the protest in Paris on Saturday












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Demonstrators gather in the centre of Paris waving a flag and lighting a flare with the Eiffel Tower in the background












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Firemen race to extinguish a burning Mini which had been ignited during the protests this afternoon in Paris












People burn cars and trees in Paris as protest turns violent























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Riot police barge one protester in a high-vis vest with a riot shield while another officer hits a grounded campaigner with a baton (right) in Paris this afternoon












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The remains of a Christmas tree are seen in Paris after it became a target of the Yellow Vest protesters in the French capital












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This picture taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe shows a scattering of yellow-vested protesters and smoke rising over the Paris skyline as darkness starts to fall on the French capital after a day of violent protest












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Demonstrators wearing hoods and yellow vests turn over a burning car on the Champs Elysees in the centre of Paris today












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Demonstrators run by a burning fire near the Arc de Triomphe during a fresh protest which has seen Yellow Vest supporters clash with riot police and more than 100 people arrested so far on Saturday












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Firefighters wearing helmets and protective clothes spray water over a burning car in the centre of Paris amid violent protests












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Riot police officers spray tear gas against demonstrators during Saturday's protest which follows rioting last weekend












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Smoke can be seen rising in the distance in a picture taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe amid violent protests in Paris












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French riot police are drenched in spray paint after cans were hurled at them by yellow vest protesters in the capital today












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Masked protesters wearing yellow vests run from tear gas during the demonstration today. It comes a week after riots which President Macron likened to 'war scenes'












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French riot police secure a street lined with Christmas decorations as they prepare for a violent onslaught of protesters this evening in Paris












Paris protest: La Marseillaise echoes around Place Charles de Gaulle























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The Yellow Vest protesters gather metal objects to make into barricades during Saturday's protests in Paris












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People wearing hoods, masks and yellow jackets - with one holding an umbrella - demonstrate near the Place de l'Etoile today












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Tear gas floats in the air as protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, demonstrate in Paris












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A topless demonstrator watches as riot police fire water cannon amid fresh violence in the centre of the French capital today












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Demonstrators throw metal barriers during the protest today next to the Arc de Triomphe in a movement which has spiralled into a rebellion against Emmanuel Macron's government












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'Yellow vest' protesters spray paint 'Les Gilets Jaunes Triompheront' - meaning The Yellow Vests Will Triumph - on the side of the Arc de Triomphe












Firefighters rush to put out fire started during Paris protest














Who are the 'Yellow Vest' protesters and how do they get their name?




The 'yellow vest' or 'gilets jaunes' protesters have taken to the streets of Paris again in what began as a row over fuel prices but has developed into a wider onslaught on the French government.

It was first prompted by Emmanuel Macron's move to raise the price of diesel fuel in a bid to encourage less polluting cars.










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Yellow-jacketed protesters on the Champs-Elysees today


Motorists took to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow jackets which drivers are required to carry in their vehicles in France, giving the movement its name.

Since then the protest has gathered momentum and taken aim at the high cost of living and wider dissatisfaction with Macron's presidency.

Macron has been accused of being out of touch with the problems of ordinary French people.

At today's demonstration there were calls for Macron, whose popularity has slumped, to resign.



Hooded demonstrators could be seen breaking into businesses, including a Chanel store and cafes and bars that had remained locked up for the day.

A blaze was started by the Jeu de Paume, one of the most famous art galleries in Paris, and dozens of cars were also burned out.

Riot police sprayed tear gas, fired water cannon and stun grenades and pulled out their batons to fight back against 'Yellow Vest' protesters who occupied the famous boulevard and graffitied the Arc de Triomphe.

France's interior minister said police were not able to keep protesters from damaging the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris or spraying it with graffiti.

Christophe Castaner, speaking on French television TF1, said: 'While some (protesters) invaded the Arc de Triomphe, our police forces were protecting other protesters and bystanders.'

French television showed images of protesters inside the famous monument, spraying graffiti and taking selfies.

Masked and hooded protesters were pictured hurling crowd barriers at police in Paris and this evening stole an assault rifle from a police car in the city centre.

Meanwhile there were further rallies spiralling across the country, spreading to Marseille, Biarritz and Antibes on the Mediterranean coast and even into the Netherlands.

The protests, named 'Yellow Vest' after drivers' high-vis jackets, began last month amid fury over rising fuel prices but have mushroomed into an all-out challenge to Emmanuel Macron's presidency.

Some 5,000 police and gendarmes are being deployed today in a replica of last Saturday's chaos when Parisians smashed up shops and restaurants and battled riot squads in the first round of major protests.

Trouble started as early as 10am, when a mob of Yellow Vests - who are named after the reflective jackets that all motorists have to carry in France - massed around the Arc de Triomphe.

Chilling images showed individual officers being beaten by masked attackers, as other police were covered in yellow paint.

Sixteen identity check points and police barricades had been set up on the Champs Elysees for the first time in its history in an attempt to avoid rioting on the most famous avenue in France.

The protests have spread beyond the French capital as demonstrators wearing the same high-vis vests blocked a motorway in Biarritz in the south-west of the country and let off yellow smoke grenades in Marseille, France's second-largest city.

Police said 115 people had been arrested for violent order offences in Paris, amid concerns that far-right and far-left groups were infiltrating the spontaneous protests over living costs.

Several hundred protesters sat down under the arch at the top of the Elysees, singing La Marseillaise, France's national anthem, and chanting, 'Macron Resign!'

On the facade of the towering 19th-century arch, protesters scrawled in big black letters: 'The yellow vests will triumph', while along the Champs Elysees, peaceful demonstrators held up a slogan reading, 'Macron, stop treating us like idiots!'

Riot police were covered in bright yellow paint thrown by the Yellow Vests as the violence intensified and the area around the Arc de Triomphe was turned into a battleground.

The Elysee Palace, the office of the President, is on lockdown as protesters waving flags and lighting flares take over the area.

Protesters blocked roads in Biarritz and Antibes further south and even in the Hague, in the Netherlands, yellow-jacketed demonstrators were spotted gathering outside government buildings.

An estimated 75,000 demonstrators were counted across the country as of 3pm.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted her 'indignation' and 'deep sadness,'  saying that violence is 'not acceptable.'

She wrote: 'I feel a deep indignation and a great sadness at the violence in the heart of Paris. They are unacceptable. Our country is facing a major crisis. It can only be resolved through dialogue. We must find this path as soon as possible.

'As a result of the violence that occurred on Saturday, I will be meeting on Sunday morning the crisis unit of the city of Paris, which will bring together my deputies, the mayors of the affected boroughs and the representatives of the municipal services.'

However the number nationwide was well below the first day of protests on November 17, which attracted around 282,000 people, and also down from the 106,000 who turned out last Saturday.

The violence seen in Paris on Saturday is unacceptable and 'yellow vest' protesters must speak out against extremist groups hijacking their legitimate grievances, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said.

'I would like to hear the yellow vests say that this type of demonstration has been taken over by extremist groups and that they cannot accept it,' she told BFM television, urging them to organise themselves so they can begin a dialogue with the government.

Christophe Castaner, France's Interior Minister, said there would be identity checks and bag searches for all pedestrians in the Champs-Elysees area.

Mr Castaner has blamed Marine Le Pen, leader of the Far Right National Rally party, for encouraging unsavoury elements to get involved in trouble.

Ahead of Saturday's protests, workmen erected metal barriers and plywood boards on the glass-fronted facades of restaurants and boutiques lining the Champs Elysees, which was closed to traffic.

This evening it was reported that 19 stations on the Paris Metro, the city's underground network, had been closed amid the unrest.

President Macron, who is in Argentina for the G20 summit, likened last week's burning barricades and rampant vandalism to 'war scenes' in Paris.










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A police car burns after clashes between police and protesters in Marseille as violence spread to southern France












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Demonstrators stand in front of a burning car during the protests which erupted again in Paris on Saturday












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A demonstrator throws a projectile at riot police forces during a protest of Yellow vests as buildings were set on fire and streets filled with smoke












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Protesters in their yellow vests are seen in the Place de l'Etoile in Paris in this picture from the Arc de Triomphe which shows smoke rising after demonstrators set fire to cars, and a view of the Eiffel Tower in the background












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Riot police watch on as the Yellow Vest protesters stand under the Arc de Triomphe in the centre of Paris. The message on the wall reads: 'The Yellow Vests will triumph'












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Demonstrators destroy cars and send windscreen glass flying to the floor during a protest in the centre of Paris today












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Protesters make a barricade out of bins and wood as they block a road in the centre of Paris during today's protests












Firefighters tackle house blaze in Paris during violent protest























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A French flag floats above a sea of heads with fire burning in the background during the protest in Paris on Saturday












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Yellow Vest protesters start fires in the streets of Bordeaux tonight as violence spread to southwestern France












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A protester standing near a yellow vest makes a gesture similar to a Nazi salute as he stands by a burning car in Paris












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Firefighters rush to put out flaming cars but this vehicle was burned down to its chassis by the time they got there












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An overturned car burns, as a protester wearing a yellow vest waves a French flag above his head in Paris this evening












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An aerial shot of the chaotic scenes show dozens of police riot vans surrounding the Arc de Triomphe in the French capital












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As darkness fell firefighters were seen tackling a blaze at a house which was set on fire during the violent protests in Paris












'Yellow Vest' protesters throw tear gas at police in Paris























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Demonstrators had a banner reading 'People in dire straits, let's kill the bourgeois' during a protest in the centre of Paris on Saturday morning












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Officers clean the roads with heavy duty machines in Paris after protesters gathered to protest against rising fuel taxes












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Demonstrators block trucks on the motorway in Biarritz as the protests over living costs pspread out across France today












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The protests have also spread to Antibes on the Mediterranean coast where protesters wearing the vests waved French flags












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A vandalized statue of the Marianne inside the Arc de Triomphe, where protesters entered and targeted during violent clashes today


Gregory Joron, of the SGP police union said: 'It is people's right to demonstrate, but extremist groups have already joined in.

'Groups intent on trouble are appearing from all directions. They include those from the extreme right and the ultra-Left.'

The movement, organised through social media, has steadfastly refused to align with any political party or trade union but has grown into a mass movement amid frustration at Macron's presidency.

The 'yellow vests' include many pensioners and has been most active in small urban and rural areas where it has blocked roads, closed motorway toll booths, and even walled up the entrance to tax offices.

Chantal, a 61-year-old pensioner who came from an eastern Paris suburb, said she was avoiding the 'hooligans' but was determined to send President Emmanuel Macron a message on the rising costs of living.

'He has to come down off his pedestal,' she said under cold rain on the Champs Elysees. 'Every month I have to dip into my savings.'

The immediate trigger for the protest wave was Macron's decision to raise tax on diesel fuel in a move to encourage the driving of less-polluting cars.

The government has tried to hold a dialogue but the protesters have been unwilling to appoint leaders.










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A demonstrator kicks back a tear gas canister towards riot police. Some 5,000 police and gendarmes are expected to be out in force in Paris today












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Members of France's General Confederation of Labour union hold flags near a protest at the Place de la Republique in Paris












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The yellow jacket protests have even spread to The Hague, in the Netherlands, where people gathered outside the Dutch parliamentary building on Saturday












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Protesters wearing yellow vests (gilets jaunes) evacuate a protester injured by a water cannon during today's protests












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Riot police officers hold up their shields and stand in position during clashes with demonstrators in Paris on Saturday












Topless 'yellow vest protester' walks into the path of water cannon























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The protest has also spread to Toulouse where demonstrators wearing similar vests protested against fuel prices on Saturday












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Riot police officers are covered with painting during clashes with demonstrators as part of a protest against rising fuel prices which has grown into a wider rebellion












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In Antibes on the Cote d'Azur the protest movement drew supporters wearing the vests and waving the French flag












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A demonstrator walks through tear gas near the Champs-Elysees amid fresh violence in the centre of Paris on Saturday












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Tear gas floats in the air as protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' to protest against higher diesel taxes, demonstrate in Paris on Saturday












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A burning car is turned over by protesters wearing yellow vests as shards of glass fall to the floor of the Parisian road












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A protester throws a projectile during the demonstrations in Paris on Saturday with a view of the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe in the background


Although police managed to clear the square around the Arc de Triomphe toward midday, cat-and-mouse skirmishes continued as protesters spread out to nearby streets and neighbourhoods.

Macron has sought to douse the anger by promising three months of nationwide talks on turning France into a low-carbon economy without penalising the poor.

He also vowed to slow the rate of increase in fuel taxes if international oil prices rise too rapidly but only after a tax hike due in January.

On Friday, the government tried - mostly in vain - to talk to representatives of the movement.

Eight were invited to meet Prime Minister Edouard Philippe but only two turned up, and one walked out after being told he could not invite TV cameras in to broadcast the encounter live to the nation.

The protests have caught Macron off guard just as he was trying to counter a fall in his popularity rating to 30 per cent.

His unyielding response has exposed him to charges of being out of touch with ordinary people.

In last week's violence the Dior Store was among those looted, with the designer fashion business losing up to £1million worth of stock. Police responded with water cannon and round upon round of tear gas in an effort to quell the violence.










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Demonstrators hold French flags as they block trucks on the motorway in Biarritz, southwestern France, as the protests spiralled out of Paris and across the country












'Yellow Vest' Paris protesters march around the Arc de Triomphe























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Protesters wearing masks, helmets and the movement's signature yellow vests wave a Tricolore flag in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees












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A demonstrator waves a French national flag by the Arc de Triomphe, at the end of the Champs-Elysees which is bracing for fresh protests today












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Riot police clash with demonstrators on the Champs-Elysees on Saturday in the latest wave of protests












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Tear gas floats in the air as police secure an area near protesters wearing yellow vests today








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