Violence broke out in Paris during a fourth consecutive weekend of Yellow Vest protests on December 8.
French riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets. Nearly 90,000 officers had been deployed,including 8,000 in Paris where 12 armored vehicles were also used.
More than 1,700 people were arrested, but the violence was not on the same level as a week earlier.
According to the interior ministry, an estimated 125,000 people took part in marches across the country protesting against fuel tax rises and high living costs. Around 10,000 people demonstrated inParis, where the scenes were the most destructive. Windows were smashed, carswere burned and stores were looted.
Video footage showed protesters hitby rubber bullets – including in the face. At least three members of the press were among those hit.
President Emmanuel Macron says his fuel policies are needed to combat global warming.
One person was in a critical condition after protesters pulled down an iron gate at the Tuileries Garden near the Louvre museum, which fell on several people.
An assault rifle was also stolen from a police vehicle although it was unclear if it was loaded, AFP quotes a police source as saying.
According to the French interior ministry, at least 75,000 people had turned out across France for the latest “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) rallies – so called because the protesters donned the high-visible vest required to be carried in every vehicle by law.
Nearly 190 fires were put out and six buildings were set ablaze, the interior ministry said.
Responding to the day’s events from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, President Macron said the protests “had absolutely nothing to do with a peaceful demonstration of a legitimate unhappiness or discontent.”
President Macron said those responsible did not want change, but instead intended to “wreak chaos”.
Earlier this week, he tried to strike a conciliatory tone, saying he was open to ideas about how the fuel tax could be applied.
However, President Macron’s speech does not appear to have gone far enough in assuaging people of the view that he is out of touch with ordinary people.