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Macron is to give 'I'm Sorry' TV address as he unveils more tax cuts



Macron is to give 'I'm Sorry' TV address as he unveils more tax cuts after 'Day of Rage' violence in France saw 1,400 arrested, dozens injured and cars burnt out as 'Yellow vest' protests spread across Europe

  • Cities in France including Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux exploded into violence during protests on Saturday 
  • Protesters smashed store windows and set fires around Paris and clashed with police, who fired tear gas
  • Authorities said 'exceptional' security measures meant police to put nearly 1,000 people in custody in Paris 
  • President Emmanuel Macron is to deliver an apologetic television address and announce tax cuts on Sunday

By Peter Allen In Paris for MailOnline and Ian Gallagher In Paris and Ian Birrell In Brussels For The Mail On Sunday

Published: 04:59 EST, 9 December 2018 | Updated: 07:05 EST, 9 December 2018

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President Emmanuel Macron is to deliver an apologetic address on television and announce further tax cuts following a day of violent protests across the country on Saturday.

Cities including Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux exploded into violence on Saturday, during the fourth weekend of demonstrations in a row by Yellow Vest protesters.

Throughout Saturday, Macron skulked behind the majestic walls of his presidential palace in Paris while outside, his city – and his country – once again erupted in fury. 

Protesters smashed store windows and set fires around Paris and clashed with police, who fired tear gas throughout the day in the French capital. 

The country is bracing for yet more protests after Saturday's 'yellow vest' demonstrations and rioting saw 1,000 people arrested and at least 71 injured in the capital. 

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 17 police officers were among the injured and that 'exceptional' security measures allowed police to put nearly 1,000 people in custody in Paris last night. 

Across the entire country, some 1,220 people were taken into custody, the Interior Ministry said Sunday - a roundup the scale of which the country hasn't seen in years. 

On Sunday, the highly influential Parisien newspaper reported that 'after eight days of silence, the head of state' has told supporters 'he will speak on Monday night on television to respond to the angry French.' 

Macron will not appear 'empty handed' but will instead make further concessions in regards to tax, it added.

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An injured Yellow Vest rioter is arrested and held by French CRS Police after clashed with rioters at Place de la Republique in Paris on Saturday
An injured Yellow Vest rioter is arrested and held by French CRS Police after clashed with rioters at Place de la Republique in Paris on Saturday

An injured Yellow Vest rioter is arrested and held by French CRS Police after clashed with rioters at Place de la Republique in Paris on Saturday

Riot police run next to a car set on fire during a Yellow Vest protest on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Saturday
Riot police run next to a car set on fire during a Yellow Vest protest on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Saturday

Riot police run next to a car set on fire during a Yellow Vest protest on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, Saturday

Cities including Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux exploded into violence on Saturday, during the fourth weekend of demonstrations in a row by Yellow Vest protesters. Pictured, Paris on Saturday night
Cities including Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux exploded into violence on Saturday, during the fourth weekend of demonstrations in a row by Yellow Vest protesters. Pictured, Paris on Saturday night

Cities including Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux exploded into violence on Saturday, during the fourth weekend of demonstrations in a row by Yellow Vest protesters. Pictured, Paris on Saturday night

Protesters seen amid the tear gas smoke on the Champ Elysees near the Arc De Triomphe during anti-government protests on Saturday night
Protesters seen amid the tear gas smoke on the Champ Elysees near the Arc De Triomphe during anti-government protests on Saturday night

Protesters seen amid the tear gas smoke on the Champ Elysees near the Arc De Triomphe during anti-government protests on Saturday night

He has already been pilloried for abandoning green taxes on diesel and petrol in response to the early rioting, but is set to cave in further.

'There are too many taxes, too many taxes, too much taxation in this country,' Macron told MPs in a private meeting on Friday, the Parisien reports.

Macron's 'mea culpa' included him admitting that he appeared too arrogant and out-of-touch, and he will address such concerns on a national TV channel.

Macron's spokesman said he is set to make a major announcement early in the coming week, but gave no details about timing or about what Macron could announce.

'The President of the Republic will of course make important announcements,' government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on LCI television on Sunday.

'However, not all the problems of the 'yellow vest' protesters will be solved by waving a magic wand.'

Senior allies of Macron said on Friday that the president would address the nation early in the coming week. 

Meanwhile, France's foreign minister urged Donald Trump not to interfere in French politics after the US president posted tweets about the protests rocking the country as well as attacking the Paris climate agreement.

'We do not take domestic American politics into account and we want that to be reciprocated,' Jean-Yves Le Drian told LCI television. 'Leave our nation be.'

Macron broke his silence to tweet appreciation for the police, but pressure mounted on Sunday on him to propose new solutions to calm the anger dividing France.  

He has already scrapped a planned fuel tax increase but the move has failed to end the 'yellow vest' protest movement, which demands lower taxes, higher minimum wages and better pension benefits.

Saturday's protests saw more than 1,000  arrests in Paris alone, while the national figure stood at 1,723. 

Casataner estimated there were 10,000 yellow vest protesters in Paris on Saturday, among some 125,000 protesters around France. The number of injured in Paris and nationwide was down Saturday from protest riots a week ago. 

Police and protesters also clashed in other French cities, notably Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux, and in neighboring Belgium. 

President Emmanuel Macron is to deliver an apologetic address on television and announce further tax cuts on Sunday
President Emmanuel Macron is to deliver an apologetic address on television and announce further tax cuts on Sunday

President Emmanuel Macron is to deliver an apologetic address on television and announce further tax cuts on Sunday

People stand near a burnt vehicle on a tow truck on Friedland avenue in Paris, where more than 1,000 people were arrested on Saturday 
People stand near a burnt vehicle on a tow truck on Friedland avenue in Paris, where more than 1,000 people were arrested on Saturday 

People stand near a burnt vehicle on a tow truck on Friedland avenue in Paris, where more than 1,000 people were arrested on Saturday 

A woman walks past burnt scooters on quai d'Orsay in Paris, after Saturday's protests saw more than 1,000 people arrested om the capital
A woman walks past burnt scooters on quai d'Orsay in Paris, after Saturday's protests saw more than 1,000 people arrested om the capital

A woman walks past burnt scooters on quai d'Orsay in Paris, after Saturday's protests saw more than 1,000 people arrested om the capital

A burnt news stand is seen in Paris on Sunday, the day after clashes during a national day of protest by the 'yellow vest' movement
A burnt news stand is seen in Paris on Sunday, the day after clashes during a national day of protest by the 'yellow vest' movement

A burnt news stand is seen in Paris on Sunday, the day after clashes during a national day of protest by the 'yellow vest' movement

Graffiti is seen on a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop with broken store front windows the day after clashes in Paris
Graffiti is seen on a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop with broken store front windows the day after clashes in Paris

Graffiti is seen on a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop with broken store front windows the day after clashes in Paris

The interior of a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop in Paris is seen from the street the day after violence erupted in the capital
The interior of a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop in Paris is seen from the street the day after violence erupted in the capital

The interior of a vandalised Starbucks coffee shop in Paris is seen from the street the day after violence erupted in the capital

Some protesters took aim at the French border with Italy, creating huge traffic jams on both sides of the border. Some 135 people were injured nationwide, including the 71 in Paris. 

France deployed some 89,000 police but still failed to deter the determined protesters. Some 125,000 yellow vests took to the streets Saturday around France with a bevy of sometimes contradictory or incoherent demands related to high living costs and a sense that Macron favours the elite and is trying to modernise the French economy too fast. 

French police frisked protesters at train stations around the country, confiscating everything from heavy metal petanque balls to tennis rackets - anything that could remotely be used as a weapon.

The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum reopened Sunday after closing in fear of Saturday's rioting. Shops assessed the looting damage Sunday and cleared out broken glass, after shutting down on a Saturday at the height of the holiday shopping season.

Fierce winds and rain pummeled Paris overnight, complicating the effort to clean up tear gas canisters and debris left by protesters' fires and looting.

Thousands had chanted 'Macron Resign' and 'Police Everywhere – Justice Nowhere' as they rampaged throughout the centre of the French capital.

Graffiti is written on the facade of a building the day after clashes during a national day of protest. Some of the messages read, "The People's Rage" and "The World is Ours"
Graffiti is written on the facade of a building the day after clashes during a national day of protest. Some of the messages read, "The People's Rage" and "The World is Ours"

Graffiti is written on the facade of a building the day after clashes during a national day of protest. Some of the messages read, 'The People's Rage' and 'The World is Ours'

A vandalised truck is seen on Sunday after violence erupted in the French capital during the fourth weekend of demonstrations in a row by Yellow Vest protesters
A vandalised truck is seen on Sunday after violence erupted in the French capital during the fourth weekend of demonstrations in a row by Yellow Vest protesters

A vandalised truck is seen on Sunday after violence erupted in the French capital during the fourth weekend of demonstrations in a row by Yellow Vest protesters

Workers put wooden wall to protect the drugstore publicis in Paris, on Sunday. More than 1,700 people were arrested across France during the latest "yellow vest" protests against rising living costs
Workers put wooden wall to protect the drugstore publicis in Paris, on Sunday. More than 1,700 people were arrested across France during the latest "yellow vest" protests against rising living costs

Workers put wooden wall to protect the drugstore publicis in Paris, on Sunday. More than 1,700 people were arrested across France during the latest 'yellow vest' protests against rising living costs

Weapons used by the thugs included Molotov Cocktails, gas cannisters, flash ball guns, baseball bats, and petanque balls used as missiles.

Most tourist attractions were shut, including the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, which was ransacked during riots a week ago.

Gendarmes were supported by 12 gendarmerie Berliet VXB-170 armoured cars, complete with 7.62mm machine guns and a 56mm Alsetex Cougar grenade launchers.

A total of 106 out of 109 squads of gendarmes mobilised across France, along with other paramilitaries groups such as the Republican Security Companies (CRS). 

The current spate of Paris violence is considered the worst since the Spring of 1968, when President Charles de Gaulle's government feared a full-blown revolution.  

The independent Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election in a landslide in 2017, but he is now dubbed the 'President of the Rich' with polls showing his popularity rating down to just 18 per cent.      

Saturday's protests were a direct blow to Macron, who made a stunning retreat last week and decided to abandon the fuel tax rise that initially prompted the yellow vest protest movement a month ago.

The turnaround was a humbling moment for Macron, who last month declared nationalism a 'betrayal' of patriotism, as well as the opponents of the populism spreading across parts of Europe. 

It also damaged his credibility with climate defenders and foreign investors and earned derision from Trump, an opponent of the 2015 Paris climate change accord that Macron has championed worldwide.

Yet it did nothing to cool tempers of the 'gilets jaunes,' the nickname for crowds wearing the fluorescent yellow vests that all French motorists must keep in their cars.

The disparate movement now has other demands, from taxing the rich to raising the minimum wage to having the 40-year-old Macron, a former banker and economist, hand in his resignation.   

The Yellow Vests said their protests would continue indefinitely as they campaign for even more tax reductions. There have been calls for a State of Emergency to be announced, and for the Army to take to the streets. 

And some have suggests that the violence seen in France could spread across the world if a carbon tax of $5,500 per ton (equal to $49 per gallon of gasoline or diesel) that a United Nationals special climate report called for in 12 years brought in. 

'If Paris streets burned over a proposed 25 cents per gallon climate change tax, imagine the global conflagration over a $49 per gallon tax,' Chuck DeVore, the VP of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, says in an op-ed for Forbes. 

'Keep in mind that the unrest in France was triggered by a looming 25-cent hike, which is a little less than 10% more in taxes than French drivers already pay. To meet the $49 per gallon tax hike recommended by the U.N., fuel taxes in France would have to go up 17-fold.'

Protesters help an injured man near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris during the latest violent Yellow Vest protest on Saturday
Protesters help an injured man near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris during the latest violent Yellow Vest protest on Saturday

Protesters help an injured man near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris during the latest violent Yellow Vest protest on Saturday

A protester is arrested and held by French CRS Police after clashed with rioters at Place de la Republique in Paris on Saturday
A protester is arrested and held by French CRS Police after clashed with rioters at Place de la Republique in Paris on Saturday

A protester is arrested and held by French CRS Police after clashed with rioters at Place de la Republique in Paris on Saturday

Rioters clash with the French Police at Place de la Republique in Paris, France. The 'Yellow Vest' protests have wrecked Paris and other French cities for nearly a month, as the movement - inspired by opposition to a new fuel tax - has absorbed a wide range of anti-government sentiment
Rioters clash with the French Police at Place de la Republique in Paris, France. The 'Yellow Vest' protests have wrecked Paris and other French cities for nearly a month, as the movement - inspired by opposition to a new fuel tax - has absorbed a wide range of anti-government sentiment

Rioters clash with the French Police at Place de la Republique in Paris, France. The 'Yellow Vest' protests have wrecked Paris and other French cities for nearly a month, as the movement - inspired by opposition to a new fuel tax - has absorbed a wide range of anti-government sentiment

A fireman extinguishes a burning bicycle during clashes with yellow vests protesters as part of a national day of protest by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France
A fireman extinguishes a burning bicycle during clashes with yellow vests protesters as part of a national day of protest by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France

A fireman extinguishes a burning bicycle during clashes with yellow vests protesters as part of a national day of protest by the 'yellow vests' movement in Paris, France

A protester waves a French flag during clashes with police at a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris
A protester waves a French flag during clashes with police at a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris

A protester waves a French flag during clashes with police at a demonstration by the 'yellow vests' movement in Paris

A protester wearing a yellow vest stands next to burning trash bins in a street during clashes with police in Paris, France
A protester wearing a yellow vest stands next to burning trash bins in a street during clashes with police in Paris, France

A protester wearing a yellow vest stands next to burning trash bins in a street during clashes with police in Paris, France

The French protest movement has also crossed borders, with demonstrations in neighboring Belgium and in the Netherlands although neither country has proposed a hike in fuel tax - the catalyst for the destructive demonstrations in France in recent weeks.

Instead, protesters appeared to hail at least in part from a populist movement that is angry at government policy in general and what it sees as the widening gulf between mainstream politicians and the voters who put them in power. Some in Belgium appeared intent only on confronting police.  

Belgian police fired tear gas and water cannons at stone-throwing yellow-vested protesters near the country's government offices and parliament.

Protesters smashed street signs and traffic lights near a police barricade blocking access to the office of Prime Minister Charles Michel, as they chanted slogans calling on him to resign.

They threw paving stones, fireworks, flares and other objects at police.

Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere says around 400 protesters are gathered in the area. About 100 have been detained, many for possessing dangerous objects like fireworks or wearing clothing that could be used as protection in clashes with police.

In the Netherlands, about 100 protesters gathered in a peaceful demonstration outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague. But at least two protesters were detained by police in central Amsterdam. 

A view of the Place de la Republique as protesters wearing yellow vests gather during a national day of protest in Paris
A view of the Place de la Republique as protesters wearing yellow vests gather during a national day of protest in Paris

A view of the Place de la Republique as protesters wearing yellow vests gather during a national day of protest in Paris

A woman is sprayed with teargas by the riot police officer in Brussels as the French protest movement spread to neighbouring Belgium
A woman is sprayed with teargas by the riot police officer in Brussels as the French protest movement spread to neighbouring Belgium

A woman is sprayed with teargas by the riot police officer in Brussels as the French protest movement spread to neighbouring Belgium

Belgian police face protestors during a copycat 'yellow vest' demonstration rocking neighbouring France in Brussels on Saturday
Belgian police face protestors during a copycat 'yellow vest' demonstration rocking neighbouring France in Brussels on Saturday

Belgian police face protestors during a copycat 'yellow vest' demonstration rocking neighbouring France in Brussels on Saturday

Protesters wearing yellow vests during a protest near European institutions headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday 
Protesters wearing yellow vests during a protest near European institutions headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday 

Protesters wearing yellow vests during a protest near European institutions headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday 

A protester is sprayed by police during a demonstration in Brussels, Saturday. Hundreds of police officers were mobilised in Brussels on Saturday, where yellow vest protesters last week clashed with police and torched two police vehicles
A protester is sprayed by police during a demonstration in Brussels, Saturday. Hundreds of police officers were mobilised in Brussels on Saturday, where yellow vest protesters last week clashed with police and torched two police vehicles

A protester is sprayed by police during a demonstration in Brussels, Saturday. Hundreds of police officers were mobilised in Brussels on Saturday, where yellow vest protesters last week clashed with police and torched two police vehicles

Protestors wearing 'yellow vests' demonstrate in the centre of The Hague, The Netherlands, on Saturday. - The so-called 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) protest movement, which started in France, is protesting against rising oil prices and living costs
Protestors wearing 'yellow vests' demonstrate in the centre of The Hague, The Netherlands, on Saturday. - The so-called 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) protest movement, which started in France, is protesting against rising oil prices and living costs

Protestors wearing 'yellow vests' demonstrate in the centre of The Hague, The Netherlands, on Saturday. - The so-called 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) protest movement, which started in France, is protesting against rising oil prices and living costs

In Paris, as Macron remained inside the Elysee Palace, it was guarded by hundreds of riot police as well as armoured cars bearing machine guns and grenade launchers. 

Excessive perhaps, but few who spent any time in Paris yesterday would doubt that but for this formidable ring of steel, the mob would have surely tried to storm inside.

It was a day of reckoning, a day of insurrection. And this time the revolutionary spirit was catching. There were also disturbances in Marseilles, France's second city, and in Brussels.

In Paris, around mid-morning, three tear-gas capsules rolled to a halt at the feet of a group of 'yellow vest' protesters milling outside the Flora Danica brasserie on the Champs-Elysees. 

The men appeared to scarcely register this attempt to disperse them. A few peeled away, not with any sense of urgency, but with determined insouciance, as if running would show weakness. Eventually, someone picked up the canister and tossed it back at police.

Another was booted away and, as it spun down the boulevard, a light breeze caught the smoke, lifting it above the trees festooned with Christmas lights. 'Take that, Macron,' cried one protester.

The yellow vests were originally worn by workers upset about petrol tax increases, declining living standards and diminished rights. But their protest has since swelled into a massive, amorphous rebellion. The demands of interest groups vary but all are united in wanting both Mr Macron's resignation and an emergency election.

A car burns during clashes with police at a demonstration of the "yellow vests" movement in Marseille, France, on Saturday
A car burns during clashes with police at a demonstration of the "yellow vests" movement in Marseille, France, on Saturday

A car burns during clashes with police at a demonstration of the 'yellow vests' movement in Marseille, France, on Saturday

Protesters wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) stand next to a burning barricade, during a demonstration against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes in Toulouse, southern France, on Saturday
Protesters wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) stand next to a burning barricade, during a demonstration against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes in Toulouse, southern France, on Saturday

Protesters wearing a yellow vest (gilet jaune) stand next to a burning barricade, during a demonstration against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes in Toulouse, southern France, on Saturday

French police forces stand close to a burning car near Avenue Marceau, during the demonstration in Paris on Saturday
French police forces stand close to a burning car near Avenue Marceau, during the demonstration in Paris on Saturday

French police forces stand close to a burning car near Avenue Marceau, during the demonstration in Paris on Saturday

It seemed to matter not to protesters that the government promised to suspend fuel tax increases for at least six months to defuse the rioting – the first U-turn by Macron since he came to power in 2017.

Then, he saved France from the populist tide. Cast as the saviour of Europe and a visionary in the JFK mould, he was the leader who some joked could walk on water.

Yet, as his presidential term unfolded and he surrounded himself with a team of technocrats, he was accused of ignoring the masses. His tax policy, it was argued, made him the 'president of the rich'. His approval ratings plummeted.

And last week, Macron was bitterly criticised for choosing to stay out of the public eye, preferring instead to hold closed-door meetings in the Elysee Palace, seen by many as his ivory tower.

Sheltering from tear gas in the doorway of a bank, one protester, Samuel, 28, said: 'Make no mistake, Macron has become the focus of anger and I can't see all this ending until he falls.

'What you are seeing here today is a little revolution. Whether it gets bigger only time will tell.'

At just after dawn, the first protesters headed for the Arc de Triomphe, defaced during the previous week's demonstration. 

They found it ringed with police cars and vans and officers clad in protective clothing standing sternly behind riot shields. The authorities clearly weren't taking any chances. 

A car burns during a protest of 'yellow vests' protests against rising costs of living near Paris City Hall on Saturday
A car burns during a protest of 'yellow vests' protests against rising costs of living near Paris City Hall on Saturday

A car burns during a protest of 'yellow vests' protests against rising costs of living near Paris City Hall on Saturday

Police officers in riot gear walk forward carefully past a flare lying on the ground during a protest  against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes in Nantes, eastern France on Saturday
Police officers in riot gear walk forward carefully past a flare lying on the ground during a protest  against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes in Nantes, eastern France on Saturday

Police officers in riot gear walk forward carefully past a flare lying on the ground during a protest against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes in Nantes, eastern France on Saturday

French policemen pose for a photograph on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, following the protests on Saturday
French policemen pose for a photograph on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, following the protests on Saturday

French policemen pose for a photograph on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, following the protests on Saturday

Elsewhere there had already been 350 arrests and it was still only breakfast. Baseball bats, hammers and gas canisters were confiscated. Metal petanque balls were found, adding a Gallic touch to the arsenal.

By mid-morning though, the insurrection still felt benign. In the Avenue D'Iena – linking the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower – a man and his son kicked a ball around. A few cafes offered breakfast. Paris was going about its business, or at least trying to.

On the Avenue Kleber, which was heavily targeted last week, its residents' luxury cars torched, nervousness prevailed. Some were vacating the grand old apartment buildings and heading off to stay with friends and family. 

'We thought that nothing could be as bad as last Saturday,' said 39-year-old Fouzia Robert, an investment banker. 'But we are told that today will be as bad, possibly more violent. I'm going to the country.'

At that moment, 21 riot police vans began thundering past. Madame Robert shook her head and drew a deep breath. Nearby a youth dressed in black standing on a street corner hurled an unidentified missile at the convoy.

It was the cue for the waiters of nearby Cafe Belloy, which had been valiantly declaring business as usual, to shut its doors. Much of Paris looked like a ghost town, with museums and stores closed on what should have been a busy pre-Christmas shopping day.

Burnt motorbikes are seen in the middle of a street in Paris on the sidelines of a demonstration that turned violent on Saturday
Burnt motorbikes are seen in the middle of a street in Paris on the sidelines of a demonstration that turned violent on Saturday

Burnt motorbikes are seen in the middle of a street in Paris on the sidelines of a demonstration that turned violent on Saturday

In the Netherlands, about 100 protesters gathered in a peaceful demonstration outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Pictured, protesters wearing yellow vests demonstrate in Maastricht
In the Netherlands, about 100 protesters gathered in a peaceful demonstration outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Pictured, protesters wearing yellow vests demonstrate in Maastricht

In the Netherlands, about 100 protesters gathered in a peaceful demonstration outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague. Pictured, protesters wearing yellow vests demonstrate in Maastricht

Tourists were scarce and residents were advised to stay at home if possible. Dozens of streets were closed to traffic, while the Eiffel Tower and museums such as the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay and the Centre Pompidou were shut.

At midday on the Champs-Elysees, now filled with clouds of tear gas, thousands were squaring up to the riot police who stopped them marching on Macron's palace. Having first boxed the protesters into the boulevard, officers later chased them into side streets.

High above, disappearing in and out of grey clouds, a police helicopter circled. As it did in previous weeks, the middle of the afternoon brought sinister elements on to the front line. The chanting suddenly gave way to violence.

By nightfall, protesters were back on the Champs-Elysees, fighting pitched battles with police among the Christmas lights. In response to tear gas, they let off flares.

'This is what happens when you govern against your people,' said a bearded protester. 'It's a lesson for Macron – but I think it's one he may have learned too late.'

Nearly 500 miles away in Marseilles, police brought armoured vehicles on to the streets as a 2,000-strong protest turned violent. 

The city centre was taken over by marauding gangs of youths as they smashed bank windows, looted and set Christmas trees ablaze.

In Brussels, protesters threw paving stones, road signs, fireworks, flares and other objects at police blocking their entry to an area where government buildings and the parliament are located.

 

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