Paris police clash with yellow vests protesters (photos)

The French capital is in total lockdown

Police fired tear gas canisters at “yellow vest” protesters in central Paris during a demonstration against the high cost of living.

A police spokeswoman told reporters there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs-Élysées and authorities said 127 people had been arrested after police found weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal petanque balls on them.

Some 8,000 police were deployed in Paris to avoid a repeat of last Saturday’s mayhem, when rioters torched cars and looted shops off the Champs-Élysées boulevard, and defaced the Arc de Triomphe monument with graffiti directed at President Emmanuel Macron.

The city is on high alert with major security measures in place ahead of fresh protests which authorities feared could turn violent for a second weekend in a row.

Shops, museums, metro stations and the Eiffel Tower were closed, while top-flight football matches and music shows were cancelled.

The French capital experienced its worst riots in decades last weekend, in scenes that shook the country and plunged President Macron’s government into its deepest crisis so far.

France’s interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said he expected “only a few thousand people” to descend on the capital after the 8,000 protesters counted last weekend, “but among them are ultraviolent individuals”.

He said: “These past three weeks have seen the birth of a monster that has escaped its creators,” adding that a “large-scale” security operation would be mounted today.