PARIS — While the “gilets jaunes” antigovernment movement drew far fewer protesters and was much less violent on Saturday than on Dec. 8, strict security measures and store closures still hampered shopping less than two weeks before Christmas.
Certain areas of the French capital, which had seen five consecutive Saturdays of demonstrations, were cordoned off to traffic during much of the day, including the tony Avenue des Champs-Élysées, home to stores such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Sephora, and Place de l’Opéra, which is just steps away from two of the city’s main department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
Chanel and Kering closed their Parisian shops, and Hermès International’s flagship on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré remained shuttered. Altogether, 40 boutiques in the sector around Rue Royale and Rue Saint-Honoré stayed shut.
So did the Louvre, Grand Palais and Musée d’Orsay.
Sixty-six thousand demonstrators were counted in France, versus 126,000 on the prior Saturday, according to the Ministry of the Interior. And in Paris, there were about 4,000 protesters, compared to 10,000 on Dec. 8.
Also in the French capital, 179 people were detained and 144 were taken into police custody, whereas the Saturday before those numbers reached 1,723 and 1,220, respectively, the police department said. Nine people were slightly injured.
Many arteries of the mass transport system in central Paris were at a standstill for most of the day, including a large swath of the line number one metro, which cuts through the city, as well as most of its buses.
French police officials maintained the same security measures as on Dec. 8, including 8,000 police officers and 14 armored vehicles patrolling the capital.
Then on Sunday, it was back to business as usual in Paris.
The “gilets jaunes” movement, which takes its name from the yellow reflective safety vests sported by its demonstrators, started out with discontent over a fuel tax but subsequently broadened to encompass a range of frustration over declining living standards in France.
Over the past month, protesters vandalized storefronts, looted shops and defaced national monuments.
On Dec. 10, French President Emmanuel Macron sought to contain the damage by pledging a series of measures aimed at raising living standards, such as increasing the minim wage by around 100 euros per month.
Adding to the tension nationwide, French officials declared a state of emergency after a terrorist attack in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday killed four people and wounded 12. The country’s national security alert system Vigipirate was raised to the highest threat level.