Fresh clashes as France's yellow vests seek new momentum

Police used tear gas and water cannon to repel protesters who gathered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe

A new series of "Yellow Vest" protests rocked Paris Saturday with authorities confirming reports of looting and violence along the iconic Champs-Elysees; marking the 18 week demonstrators have marched against the French government's crippling taxes and lack of fuel across the country. The restaurant was vandalized Saturday morning and later set ablaze.

Simultaneous fires were also put out from two burning newspaper kiosks, which sent black smoke high into the sky.

Protesters ransacked Fouquet's brasserie, a popular eatery amongst politicians and celebrities, overturning chairs and tables and smashing windows.

A separate, peaceful march against climate change through central Paris drew as many 36,000 people, police estimated.

It's also associated with former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who celebrated his 2007 election victory in Fouquet's - drawing criticism for his choice of such a flashy locale.

Rioters set fire to a bank and ransacked stores on Paris's Champs Elysees avenue on Saturday, in a new flare-up of violence as France's yellow vest protests against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business reforms entered a fourth month.

The movement, started initially as a protest against a proposed fuel tax, has expanded to become a protest against the inequality of French society as well as taking in anti-migrant groups.

A Yellow Vest protester holds up a placard reading "In tribute to the Yellow Vests protesters that have died and been wounded since 17.11.18" on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on March 16, 2019, during the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations called by the "Yellow Vest" (gilets jaunes) movement.

"Like the vast majority of French people, I feel very angry today", tweeted French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who visited the scene. The police responded with teargas and water cannon.

Firefighters had to rescue a mother and her child as the fire threatened to engulf their floor.

Paris police say more than 100 people have been arrested amid rioting in the French capital by yellow vest protesters.

The fire in the bank, which was on the ground floor of a seven-story residential building near the Champs-Elysees Avenue, was later extinguished.

The police on Saturday used tear gas and water cannon to repel protesters who gathered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe war memorial, which was sacked by protesters on December 1 in scenes that drew global condemnation.

"There are a number of people who have come just to smash things", Castaner said, estimating that some 1,500 "ultra violent" activists had infiltrated the crowd of "between 7,000 and 8,000".

Saudi Arabia's embassy in France has advised Saudi citizens to avoid the Champs-Elysées area and areas surrounding it due to the "yellow vest" protests.

Police tried to contain the demonstrators Saturday with tear gas and water cannons. Several protesters posed for a photo in front of one charred kiosk.

The rioting comes at the end of a two-month national debate that President Macron organised to respond to protesters' concerns about sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.

The violence started when protesters threw smoke bombs and other objects at officers along the famed avenue in the French capital.

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