PHOTOS: Violent riots in Paris after 2 weeks of nationwide protests over rising taxes

Cars burn during a demonstration on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris against high taxes and rising fuel prices. (Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images)
Cars burn during a demonstration on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris against high taxes and rising fuel prices. (Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images)

Rioters ran amok across central Paris on Saturday, torching cars and buildings, looting shops, smashing windows and clashing with police in the worst unrest in more than a decade, posing a dire challenge to Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.

The authorities were caught off guard by the escalation in violence after two weeks of nationwide protests against fuel taxes and living costs, known as the “yellow vest” movement after fluorescent jackets kept in all vehicles in France.

In Paris, police said they had arrested almost 300 people and 110 were injured, including 20 members of the security forces. Police fired stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon at protesters at the top of the Champs-Élysées, at the Tuileries Garden near the Louvre and other sites.

In some areas there was virtually no police presence at all, as groups of masked men roamed in the shadows of the capital’s fabled landmarks and through its fanciest shopping districts, smashing the windows of designer boutiques.

Macron, who is in Argentina for a G-20 summit, said he would convene ministers to discuss the crisis upon his return on Sunday. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe canceled a trip to Poland. (Reuters)

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Riot police officers take position near the Arc de Triomphe, Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
Riot police officers take position near the Arc de Triomphe, Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
French riot police evacuate an elderly couple near the Arc de Triomphe during clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers’ protest against higher diesel taxes, in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Lucien Libert/Reuters)
French riot police evacuate an elderly couple near the Arc de Triomphe during clashes with protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers’ protest against higher diesel taxes, in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Lucien Libert/Reuters)
A broken sculpture of Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, appears damaged in the gallery inside the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
A broken sculpture of Marianne, symbol of the French Republic, appears damaged in the gallery inside the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
Protesters wearing yellow vests set cars and barricades on fire as they clash with riot police on Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration over high fuel prices in Paris, Dec. 1,2018. (Photo: Etienne Laurant/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Protesters wearing yellow vests set cars and barricades on fire as they clash with riot police on Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration over high fuel prices in Paris, Dec. 1,2018. (Photo: Etienne Laurant/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
A charred car is pictured near the Arc de Triomphe after the demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
A charred car is pictured near the Arc de Triomphe after the demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
A demonstrator leaves as water cannons evacuate the Place de l’Etoile, near the Arc de Triomphe, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
A demonstrator leaves as water cannons evacuate the Place de l’Etoile, near the Arc de Triomphe, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
A riot police officer covered with yellow paint secures the Arc de Triomphe area during the “yellow vest” protests on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
A riot police officer covered with yellow paint secures the Arc de Triomphe area during the “yellow vest” protests on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
A damaged restaurant is pictured near the Arc de Triomphe after the demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
A damaged restaurant is pictured near the Arc de Triomphe after the demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
Protesters wearing yellow vests are sprayed with water cannons as they clash with riot police near the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration over high fuel prices in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Protesters wearing yellow vests are sprayed with water cannons as they clash with riot police near the Arc de Triomphe during a demonstration over high fuel prices in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
A demonstrator wearing a yellow jacket waves a French flag during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)
A demonstrator wearing a yellow jacket waves a French flag during a demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)
The slogan “The yellow vests will triumph” is seen on the Arc de Triomphe as protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a drivers’ protest against higher diesel taxes, demonstrate at the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters)
The slogan “The yellow vests will triumph” is seen on the Arc de Triomphe as protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a drivers’ protest against higher diesel taxes, demonstrate at the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters)
French riot police pass by the Arc de Triomphe as they clash with protesters wearing yellow vests during a demonstration over high fuel prices in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
French riot police pass by the Arc de Triomphe as they clash with protesters wearing yellow vests during a demonstration over high fuel prices in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Yoan Valat/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Firefighters work to extinguish a burning car on the sideline of a demonstration, against rising oil prices and living costs, on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Abdulmonam Eassa/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters work to extinguish a burning car on the sideline of a demonstration, against rising oil prices and living costs, on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Abdulmonam Eassa/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters wearing yellow vests demonstrate on the Champs Elysees on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Antoine Gyori/Corbis via Getty Images)
Protesters wearing yellow vests demonstrate on the Champs Elysees on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Antoine Gyori/Corbis via Getty Images)
Tear gas fills the air as a protester wearing a yellow vest, a symbol of a French drivers’ protest against higher diesel taxes, demonstrates near the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters)
Tear gas fills the air as a protester wearing a yellow vest, a symbol of a French drivers’ protest against higher diesel taxes, demonstrates near the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Stephane Mahe/Reuters)
Protesters clashes with riot police on the Place de l’Etoile on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)
Protesters clashes with riot police on the Place de l’Etoile on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)
An injured woman sits on the ground as police officers intervene with tear gas during a protest against rising fuel taxes near Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Elyxandro Cegarra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
An injured woman sits on the ground as police officers intervene with tear gas during a protest against rising fuel taxes near Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo: Elyxandro Cegarra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Protesters demonstrate against rising oil prices and living costs on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Abdulmonam Eassa/AFP/Getty Images)
Protesters demonstrate against rising oil prices and living costs on Dec. 1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Abdulmonam Eassa/AFP/Getty Images)
Avenues leading to the Arc de Triomphe are pictured from the top of the monument on the Champs-Elysees during a demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)
Avenues leading to the Arc de Triomphe are pictured from the top of the monument on the Champs-Elysees during a demonstration, Dec.1, 2018, in Paris. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

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