France braced for 'day of rage' protests

French troops deployed in Paris amid ‘yellow vest’ protest

Now the demands of the "yellow vest" movement - named for the fluorescent safety vests that French motorists keep in their cars - are pressing for a wider range of benefits from the government to help French workers, retirees and students.

It is feared that the viral videos could further inflame the "yellow vest" protests, which have led to the worst rioting Paris has seen in decades.

Hundreds of shops in Paris planned to shut their doors as well, preferring to lose business during the key holiday shopping period rather than have their windows smashed in and their merchandise looted, as happened to many Paris stores last Saturday when an anti-government protest over rising taxes turned into a riot.

By noon, more than 500 had been detained in Paris, according to a police spokeswoman.

An Elysee official has said intelligence suggested that some protesters would come to the capital "to vandalise and to kill".

Protesters threw flares and other projectiles, and were repeatedly pushed back by tear gas.

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.

President Emmanuel Macron's government has warned that the protests will be hijacked by "radicalised and rebellious" crowds and become the most unsafe yet, after three weeks of demonstrations.

Demonstrators waving French flags and wearing the movement's signature neon vests gathered before dawn Saturday near the Arc de Triomphe, which was damaged in last week's rioting.

Authorities deployed barricade-busting armored vehicles and 8,000 police in the capital alone; nationwide, some 89,000 security forces fanned out to deter or confront troublemakers expected at multiple protests.

"These past three weeks have produced a monster that its creators no longer control", Castaner said, vowing "zero tolerance" toward those aiming to wreak further destruction.

Saturday, Nov 17, is the first day of road blockades across France with almost 290,000 demonstrators wearing the fluorescent yellow vests motorists are required to carry in their cars.

"We need to protect culture sites in Paris but also everywhere in France", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio. "Some ultra-violent people want to take part".

Neither country has proposed a hike in fuel tax - the catalyst for the massive and destructive demonstrations in France in recent weeks.

Police said they had already detained some 354 people by Saturday morning ahead of the demonstrations. Some could be held in the city center on what is a major Christmas shopping weekend. He called on peaceful protesters not to get mixed up with "hooligans".

Many members of the protest movement had called for calm, and some struck a conciliatory tone after meeting the prime minister on Friday night, but that did not deter many people from trying to march on the presidential palace.

But the yellow vests, many of whom who have become increasingly radicalised, are holding out for more.

The climbdown over the fuel tax - meant to help France move to a greener economy - marks a major shift for Mr Macron, who has previously vowed not to be swayed, like previous presidents, by large street protests.

A petition to bring down the price of fuel is posted online.

Macron, who has not spoken in public since he condemned last Saturday's disturbances while at the G20 summit in Argentina, will address the nation early next week, his office said. Many are calling on him to resign.

Macron's decision early in his presidency to slash taxes on France's wealthiest is particularly unpopular with the protesters.

But Mr Macron's office has said he will stick to his decision to cut a "fortune tax" on high-earners, abolished a year ago in a bid to boost investment.

The climbdown on higher fuel taxes - which were meant to help France transition to a greener economy - marked a major departure for the centrist president.

On Friday evening, he visited a group of police in their barracks outside Paris.

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