Yellow Vest Protesters Across France Exceed 38,000

Versailles closes ahead of 'yellow vest' protest as numbers fall

Versailles closes ahead of 'yellow vest' protest as numbers fall

Paris police told The Associated Press the officer pulled it out to deter the assailants but did not use his weapon.

In stark contrast to the chaos of previous weekends, tourists strolled down the avenue near the Arc de Triomphe, shoppers were out in force and the grandest of Parisian boulevards remained open for traffic.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the "yellow vests" who retreated to a bridge, throwing objects on the road, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

Earlier in the day, the ministry reported that some 23,800 protesters were taking part in the protests nationwide. The famous chateau was home to a succession of French kings until the French Revolution in 1789.

A Facebook event organised by "yellow vest" leader Eric Drouet listed 1,400 people as "participants" in the Versailles demonstration with a further 8,000 people saying they were "interested". Instead, protesters gathered in the Montmartre area of northern Paris for a small-scale demonstration. It has since grown into a wider anti-government movement opposing economic reforms of President Emmanuel Macron, which the protesters see as benefitting the rich and victimizing the poor.

In response to a six-week campaign of public anger, the French parliament, meanwhile, passed €10 billion ($11.3 billion) of emergency measures on Friday to reduce the tax burden and increase purchasing power.

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A 36-year-old man was killed in a road accident in the southern French city of Perpignan after encountering a blockade set up by "yellow vest" protesters late Friday night, according to a city spokeswoman.

Much of France, but particularly Paris, has endured weeks of protests that at times descended into violence.

A driver died overnight when his vehicle slammed into the back of a truck stopped at a roadblock set up by "yellow vest" protesters at an autoroute entrance in Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast, prosecutor Jean-Jacques Fagni told AFP.

The driver became the tenth person to die during the "yellow vest" movement, which began on November 17, initially in opposition to a rising fuel tax but later over a skyrocketing cost of living. In southern France near the Spanish border, dozens of demonstrators blocked trucks and chanted "Macron, Demission", which translates as "Macron, resign".

While the demonstrations were mainly calm compared to the Paris riots earlier in the month, there were concerns about their effect on pre-Christmas sales.

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