Police in Amiens, hometown of President Emmanuel Macron, fired teargas at about 1,200 demonstrators after a group pelted police with stones, attacked local bank branches and set fire to rubbish cans, the local police chief’s office said. Police detained 27 people in the city. Shocking images of the disorder show officers in riot gear confronting demonstrators, who last weekend reached the six month mark of protests.
A few hundred protesters also clashed with police in downtown Paris, in and around the Place de la Republique.
The grassroots movement protesting over the cost of living and Macron’s perceived indifference seems to be losing steam.
Throughout the country, only 12,500 demonstrators took to the streets during the latest day of protests, which is the lowest turnout since the movement started, the French interior ministry said.
At the peak in November, more than 300,000 were taking part nationally.
The prolonged protests, named after the high-visibility jackets worn by participants and which began in opposition to fuel tax increases, have hampered Mr Macron’s efforts to push his reform timetable and forced him into costly concessions.
Despite the French President’s swift reversal of the tax hikes and introduction of other measures worth more than £8.8billion (€10billion) to boost the purchasing power of lower-income voters, protests and riots continued all over the country.
As he was celebrating his second anniversary in power, Macron last month offered more tax cuts worth £4.41billion (€5billion), along with a range of other measures.
The protests also battered Mr Macron’s party in its campaign for European elections to be held on Sunday.
La Republique en Marche is polling neck-and-neck with the far-right National Rally.
It is expected Mr Macron’s austerity measure could see him go head to head with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally political party when the ballot results trickle in.
French politics expert Sophie Pedder told Sky News on Wednesday: “Symbolically, these elections are hugely important because they’re the first mid-term test for him.
“He hasn’t had an election since he wasn’t elected president two years ago. So it’s the first chance for a protest vote against him.
“In the polls, he’s been running neck and neck with Marine Le Pen, whom he faced in the presidential elections two years ago so it’s pretty much a re-run of that.”
Results are on Sunday evening.