PARIS — Protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform rocked Paris through the weekend, with marches taking over monuments such as Place de la Concorde, and shopping areas including the central Les Halles district.
Protests began Thursday night at Place de la Concorde, the famous square at the foot of Avenue des Champs-Élysées and just outside of the celebrity favorite Hôtel de Crillon. Thousands of demonstrators gathered there Thursday and Friday to protest the passing of the bill by procedural motion, instead of direct vote, blocking traffic and setting fires around the area.
In response, municipal authorities banned gatherings at Place de la Concorde from Saturday until Tuesday.
On Sunday, protesters moved to other locations, with around 350 people gathering outside of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s shopping center Forum des Halles, before a group of demonstrators entered the mall waving banners and setting off red-colored smoke bombs, according to footage posted on social media.
Videos showed smoke bombs being set off in front of Levi’s, while Mango was shuttered in the wake of the protesters walking through the corridors chanting.
“As a company policy, URW does not comment on security matters,” a spokesperson said in response to a inquiry from WWD.
Department stores away from the protests reported normal activity. There was “no real impact,” according to a spokesperson from Printemps, which is on Boulevard Haussmann, 1.5 miles north of where the demonstrations were held. Samaritaine Paris-Pont Neuf added they “received a lot of tourists” despite its close proximity to Les Halles, and reported no impact from the protests or transit strikes over the last week.
Demonstrations resumed Monday night after Macron’s government survived a “no confidence” motion of censure by just nine votes, as protesters gathered at Place Vauban near the National Assembly and away from any major shopping thoroughfares.
The protests are expected to continue through the week, with another day of strike action planned for Thursday.
The demonstrations are the largest since the “yellow vest” protests of 2018, which brought weeks of rolling protests and boarded up stores on Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Garbage collectors have also been on strike, which has led to tons of trash piling up on streets and had a negative impact on tourist sentiment. Transportation has also been impacted, with rolling strikes resulting in local and national train shutdowns as well as the cancellation of 20 to 30 percent of flights at Paris area airports.