By Angelique ChrisafisAt least 100 people injured in street battles, with cars being torched and shops raided.
About 5,000 gilets jaunes marched down the Champs Élysées at midday, some carrying roses, many shouting: “Macron, resign!” and singing the national anthem. The Champs Élysées was closed to cars and tightly monitored by police, with identity and bag checks taking place as shop workers boarded windows and dismantled outdoor terraces. But by early on Saturday afternoon the Arc de Triomphe was surrounded by masked protesters fighting running battles with police.The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said thousands of troublemakers unconnected to the peaceful demonstrations had deliberately come to “pillage, smash, steal, wound and even kill”. He called them rioters who were “professionals at causing disorder”. Authorities suggested extreme-right and extreme-left militants were involved in the rioting. The interior minister said that by 8pm police had cleared most rioters from central Paris. Across France, more than 75,000 gilets jaunes demonstrated in cities or blocked roads and toll booths, some briefly stormed the runway of Nantes airport and others blocked supermarkets and major motorway junctions or staged barricades near government buildings. There were 580 roadblocks across the country. In the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken similar action, complaining that Macron’s pro-business fuel tax policy was unfair and that people in low-income jobs could not make ends meet. “The yellow vests will triumph,” was daubed across the facade of the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe monument in large black letters – and greeted with condemnation from politicians. Many gilets jaunes protesters spoke out against the violent skirmishes on the edge of the demonstrations.