This weekend, Paris was stunned by violent riots ignited by nationwide unrest over high fuel taxes and living costs. Protesters, wearing fluorescent, yellow jackets, defaced historical buildings, vandalized cars, and broke the windows of fancy shops. Now, city workers are struggling to clear the chaos left behind from this tumultuous weekend.
The worst of the riots is thought to have been caused by anarchist and anti-capitalist fanatics, from both the far right and far left. The riots’ main targets appeared to be banks, insurance companies, expensive homes, and high-end boutiques and cafes.
In the course of the riots, 400 people were arrested and over 100 inured, with police battling protestors amid some of the city’s most iconic monuments. The Arc de Triomphe was the setting of one of these dramatic clashes, and the target of vandalism. “I’ve worked on monuments around Paris for 20 years,” said a Paris City Hall official overseeing the cleanup, “and I’ve never seen anything like this at the Arc de Triomphe.” Hundreds of laborers are also working to replace the glass panes of a Dior store on the Rue Royale. Other high-end retailers in the area, including Gucci and Chanel, suffered damage as well.
In the face of nationwide unrest, the government is considering declaring a state of emergency. Claude, a woman living next to the Belle Armée brasserie, which was set on fire during the riots, said, “The violence is escalating at an exponential rate. The state is losing control. They cannot let this happen. Maybe the army should intervene.”
The protests certainly put a damper on the start of France’s holiday season. Paris’ streets should have been busy with Christmas shoppers this weekend, but instead they were defined by violence.