Prized Paris monuments and normally bustling shopping meccas were locked down Saturday at the height of the holiday shopping season.
French authorities will close dozens of museums, tourism sites and shops on Saturday, including the Eiffel Tower and Louvre, fearing a recurrence of last week's violence in Paris, officials said on Thursday.
About 89,000 police were deployed across the country.
Police are searching people throughout central Paris and confiscating goggles and gas masks from journalists, who use them to protect against tear gas while covering demonstrations. The national gendarme service posted a video on Twitter of police tackling a protester and confiscating his unsafe material, which appeared to be primarily a tennis racket.
President Emmanuel Macron's government has warned that the protests will be hijacked by "radicalised and rebellious" crowds and become the most unsafe yet, after three weeks of demonstrations.
Demonstrators waving French flags and wearing the movement's signature neon vests gathered before dawn Saturday near the Arc de Triomphe, which was damaged in last week's rioting.
Blocked by police, they tried other routes.
Yellow Vests protesters march during their demonstration near the Place de la Bastille.
Some could be held in the city centre on what is a major Christmas shopping weekend.
More than 5,000 demonstrators gathered in the center of Paris early Saturday, matched by 8,000 police officers and at least 12 armored vehicles, according to Fox News. No injuries have been reported.
Almost 90,000 police and gendarmes have been mobilised across the country, around 8,000 of them in the capital, officials have said, alongside a dozen VBRG armoured vehicles.
Authorities say the protests have been hijacked by far-right and anarchist elements bent on violence and stirring up social unrest in a direct affront to Macron and the security forces.
Many protesters are law-abiding French citizens, engaged in a street protest that has huge public support and is widely seen as a legitimate democratic action.
Defending the treatment of the children, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner aid: "Over the past few days, the students have been joined by about 100 hooded youths armed with clubs and incendiary devices and determined to pick a fight with police". "We know that the violent people are only strong because they hide themselves within the yellow vests, which hampers the security forces", he said Saturday.
Four people have died in accidents during the protests and political leaders have appealed for calm. Top-flight football matches and concerts were cancelled.
Some stores along the Champs-Elysee had boarded up their windows with plywood, making the neighbourhood appear like it was bracing for a hurricane.
Protesters have also blocked roads, roundabouts and tollbooths elsewhere in France. Now the demands of the "yellow vest" movement - named for the fluorescent safety vests that French motorists keep in their cars - are pressing for a wider range of benefits from the government to help French workers, retirees and students.
"We are not here to destroy Paris, we are here to tell Macron we are f-king fed up", said one protester before the clashes with the police began, adding that the people are protesting ever-increasing taxes on the working class.
Protesters smashed street signs and traffic lights near a police barricade blocking access to the office of Prime Minister Charles Michel, as they chanted slogans calling on him to resign.
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