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Violent scenes in Paris as yellow vest protest numbers soar again

Riot police fired tear gas at demonstrators when they attempted to leave their pre-approved route.

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Demonstrators stand in tear gas thrown by riot police during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Demonstrators stand in tear gas thrown by riot police during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

AP

An overturned car burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

An overturned car burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

A motorcycle burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

A motorcycle burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

A motorcycle burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

A motorcycle burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

A motorcycle burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

A motorcycle burns during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

Fire is seen near a Christmas market during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Fire is seen near a Christmas market during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

Fire is seen near a Christmas market during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Fire is seen near a Christmas market during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

Riot policemen walk near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Riot policemen walk near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

Riot policemen walk near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Riot policemen walk near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

A fire burns near a cafe during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

A fire burns near a cafe during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

Riot policemen run near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Riot policemen run near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

A man stands near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

A man stands near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

A riot policeman stands near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

A riot policeman stands near a fire during a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement at Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, France, January 5, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

REUTERS

A tear gas canister fired by riot police flies behind the statue of Thomas Jefferson the third president of the United States during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

A tear gas canister fired by riot police flies behind the statue of Thomas Jefferson the third president of the United States during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

AP

Demonstrators run as tear gas is thrown by riot police during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Demonstrators run as tear gas is thrown by riot police during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

AP

Yellow vest protestors demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities, but numbers appeared down on their first demonstration of the new year. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Yellow vest protestors demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities, but numbers appeared down on their first demonstration of the new year. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

AP

Yellow vest protestors demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities, but numbers appeared down on their first demonstration of the new year. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Yellow vest protestors demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities, but numbers appeared down on their first demonstration of the new year. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

AP

Yellow vest protestors demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities, but numbers appeared down on their first demonstration of the new year. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Yellow vest protestors demonstrate in Bayonne, southwestern France, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities, but numbers appeared down on their first demonstration of the new year. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

AP

Demonstrators wearing yellow vests march during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Demonstrators wearing yellow vests march during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

AP

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Demonstrators stand in tear gas thrown by riot police during a protest in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Hundreds of protesters were trying to breathe new life into France's apparently waning yellow vest movement with marches in Paris and gatherings in other cities. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

French security forces fired tear gas and flash-bang ammunition at protesters during a march through central Paris as several thousand supporters of the yellow vest movement kept up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron with the first action of 2019.

A river boat restaurant moored below the clashes on the Left Bank of the Seine River caught fire, while smoke and tear gas wafted above the Orsay Museum and the gold dome of the French Academy as riot police moved in when protesters deviated from an officially approved path.

Police boats patrolled the river while beyond the Seine, motorcycles and a car were set on fire on the Boulevard Saint Germain, a main Left Bank thoroughfare.

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The march was peaceful until some protesters attempted to deviate from their approved route and cross a bridge (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

The march was peaceful until some protesters attempted to deviate from their approved route and cross a bridge (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

AP/PA Images

The march was peaceful until some protesters attempted to deviate from their approved route and cross a bridge (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

Riot police and firefighters moved in, and barricades mounted in the middle of the wide street also glowed in flames.

The march on the eighth consecutive Saturday of yellow vest protests had been declared in advance and approved, in contrast to some illegal December demonstrations that degenerated into vandalism, looting and chaos.

The atmosphere was mostly calm, but turned when some protesters tried to cross the river on a pedestrian bridge not on the official route from City Hall to the National Assembly.

Police used clubs and tear gas, then held the bridge in a stand-off while violence broke out.

Further confrontations between police and protesters took place in other cities around France, with tear gas fired in Bordeaux and in Rouen, Normandy.

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The yellow vest protests had seen numbers reduce in recent weeks, but several thousand were back on the streets of Paris on Saturday (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

The yellow vest protests had seen numbers reduce in recent weeks, but several thousand were back on the streets of Paris on Saturday (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

AP/PA Images

The yellow vest protests had seen numbers reduce in recent weeks, but several thousand were back on the streets of Paris on Saturday (Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

No official figures have been issued for the number of protesters who turned out around France or in Paris, though one police estimate put the marchers in the capital at 3,500.

Protesters were looking to breathe new life into the yellow vest movement as numbers of participants has fallen since the first Saturday protest in mid-November.

They reiterated their call for Mr Macron, denounced as the president of the rich, to resign

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said those still protesting “want insurrection”.

He called on the French to express their views during a “national debate” organised in the coming weeks in all regions, rather than by taking to the streets.

The yellow vest movement was launched to express anger over fuel tax hikes affecting working people who commute by car, but grew to encompass broader anger over Mr Macron’s economic policies, deemed to favour the rich.

PA Media