Tear gas shrouded Paris’s famed Arc de Triomphe on Saturday even before the so-called “yellow vest” demonstration began.
The police fired hundreds of gas canisters and used water cannon and stun grenades in an attempt to control crowds of protesters early in the morning – but to no avail.
The Champs Elysees, where the Arc de Triomphe stands, became a battleground as the day wore on, with protesters setting fire to makeshift barricades and hundreds of vehicles. Shops were looted and vandalised and hundreds were injured in the clashes.
“We are in a state of insurrection, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jeanne d’Hauteserre, mayor of Paris’s 8th district, said.
The protests, which began on November 17 over hikes in diesel taxes, have widened into an uprising against President Emmanuel Macron and become the biggest challenge to his presidency.
On Tuesday, the government finally backpedalled on its initial policy decision and announced plans to halt the planned price increases.