'Yellow vest' protest numbers fall in run-up to Christmas

22 Décembre, 2018, 19:50 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Police officers repel

About 800 people were demonstrating in Paris at around noon (11:00 GMT), compared to about 4,000 demonstrators at the same time last Saturday.

Paris police said 65 people had been arrested, including a "yellow vest" leader, Eric Drouet.

A man died in southern France, bringing the total death toll to 10.

A driver died in southern France yesterday when their auto hit a truck at a roundabout that was blocked by "yellow vest" protesters, French local authorities said.

How is this Saturday shaping up?

But the French capital's iconic Champs-Elysees avenue was calm, with most shops except for some luxury boutiques open for business in the busy weekend before Christmas.

Fearing possible unrest, authorities said they were closing the Palace of Versailles and its gardens, a top tourist venue, on Saturday.

Some 200 people gathered for a demonstration in Paris' tourist area of Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur basilica.

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Roadblocks by protesters were also reported on autoroutes near the border with Italy and at a bridge in Strasbourg near the German border.

Further demonstrations were planned around the country - though the movement seems to be losing impetus in the run-up to Christmas.

Around 50 "yellow vests" briefly blocked trucks near the border between France and Spain before gendarmes stepped in.

Media captionYellow vests: Is the symbol spreading across Europe?

The protests - named after the yellow high-visibility jackets French motorists must carry in their vehicles - started November 17 in reaction to an eco-tax on gas but have since morphed into disparate demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

They were initially protesting against a rise in duties on diesel, which is widely used by French motorists and has always been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel.

Under pressure to respond, Macron pledged earlier this month to increase the minimum wage and scrap new pension taxes.

On Friday evening, the French Senate approved Macron's raft of measures to help the working poor and pensioners - just hours after they had been adopted by the lower house of parliament - which aim to quell "yellow vest" anger and should come into force early in 2019.

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