'Yellow vest' protesters in Paris face water cannon

PARIS • Police in Paris used water cannon and tear gas to chase "yellow vest" protesters away from the Arc de Triomphe monument yesterday in the ninth straight weekend of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms.

Thousands of protesters also marched noisily but peacefully through the Grands Boulevards shopping area in northern Paris close to where a major gas explosion in a bakery killed four people earlier.

Central Paris was in lockdown against another feared eruption of violence by radical elements in the "gilets jaunes" (yellow vest) movement, with bridges across the Seine River closed and official buildings such as Parliament and the Elysee presidential palace protected by police barriers.

Groups of protesters also gathered on and around Paris's famous Champs Elysees boulevard, the scene of disturbances in recent weeks, many of them calling loudly for Mr Macron to resign.

"Macron, we are going to tear down your place!" one banner read.

Around the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysee, riot police unleashed water cannon and tear gas at militant protesters after being pelted with stones and paint, witnesses said.

By mid-afternoon, there had been no major clashes with police unlike in previous weeks.


In Paris, more than 50 people were arrested, some for carrying objects that could be used as weapons.

There were also thousands of marchers in the cities of Bordeaux and Toulon in southern France as well as Strasbourg in the east and the central city of Bourges.

The Bourges authorities said nearly 5,000 yellow vests stuck to the designated demonstration area but another 500 had pushed into the city centre that was off-limits to demonstrators.

Many businesses in Bourges had boarded themselves up to avoid damage from protesters and the authorities had removed street furniture and building site materials that could be used for barricades.

Nationwide, more than 80,000 security forces were on duty for the protests, including 5,000 in Paris.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 13, 2019, with the headline ''Yellow vest' protesters in Paris face water cannon'. Print Edition | Subscribe