Paris looked like a ghost town early on Saturday, with museums, department stores and the metro closed as riot police braced to meet “yellow vest” protesters in the capital and other French cities.
This is the fourth weekend of confrontation over living costs.
In what should have been a festive pre-Christmas shopping day, tourists were few and residents were advised to stay at home if at all possible.
Dozens of streets in central Paris were closed to traffic, while the Eiffel Tower and world-famous museums such as the Musee d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre were closed.
Many shops were boarded up to avoid looting and street furniture and construction site materials have been removed to prevent them from being used as projectiles.
Anthony, a fruit stall vendor in the residential left bank, who declined to give his surname, said, “I hope they don’t make it as far as here.”
He added that 11 other open-air food markets across the city had been closed.
About 89,000 police were deployed across the country.
Of these, about 8,000 were deployed in Paris to avoid a repeat of last Saturday’s mayhem when rioters torched cars and looted shops off the famed Champs Elysees Boulevard.
The rioters defaced the Arc de Triomphe monument with graffiti directed at President Emmanuel Macron.
By about 0845 GMT police said there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs Elysees.
However, there were no reports of violence.
“We have come here for a peaceful march, not to smash things, we want equality, we want to live, not survive,” Guillaume Le Grac, 28, who works in a slaughterhouse in the town of Guingamp in Britanny, said. (Reuters/NAN)