by Henry Samuel, The Telegraph, December 7, 2018
The city is preparing for lock down with a string of stores, museums and landmarks, including the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Galeries Lafayette shut for security reasons. Luxury boutiques, restaurants and businesses on the Champs-Elysees and around the presidential palace are under orders to close. Many were being boarded up around the capital.
Six French league football games have been cancelled around France.
"According to our information, radicalised and rebellious people will try to mobilise tomorrow," warned interior minister Christophe Castaner.
While he said the numbers would only number “several thousand,” he added: ”Some ultra-violent people want to take part.” He did not rule out “foreign” agitators being among them.
An unprecedented 89,000 police and gendarmes will be deployed around the country on Saturday, a third more than last weekend, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of those riots - the worst since the 1968 student uprising.
One woman has been arrested in possession of two firearms after posting a message saying: “A good cop is a dead cop.” Elsewhere in France, police said they seized 28 petrol bombs at a roundabout in Montauban near Toulouse, as well as three homemade bombs.
Around 8,000 security forces will guard landmarks in Paris where rioters last weekend torched 200 cars, looted shops and vandalised the Arc de Triomphe. For the first time in decades, they will bring in 12 armoured vehicles able to clear burning barricades.
Criticised for being too static, forces are expected to adopt a more mobile formation, though Mr Castaner said he would provide no details that would help vandals.
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said police have also been given the power to carry out stop and search checks at any "sensitive points" in the city.
Security forces were cited by French press as fearing a cocktail of far-Right and Left militants, infuriated provincial “yellow vests” with no prior history of clashing with police and looters from the deprived suburbs.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo issued a plea to spare the City of Light, saying: "Take care of Paris on Saturday because Paris belongs to all the French people.”
Given the warnings, a group of prominent protesters dubbed “the free yellow vests” urged people to stay away from the capital and called for “calm, respect of public assets and security forces”.
Turning up would be to fall into a “government trap” to lump together moderate demonstrators calling for lower taxes and higher purchasing power and “vandals”, they said.
“The government wants to pass us off as rioters, that’s not the case, said Benjamin Cauchy one of the yellow vest “spokespeople” who have received death threats from more radical elements.
“We’re open to dialogue. We’re waiting for a fiscal and social electroshock the government,” he said after they were refused an audience at the Elysée Palace.
Another high-profile “yellow vest” not part of Mr Cauchy’s network was placed under investigation for “provoking committing a crime” after he urged protesters to try and storm the Elysée.
Polls suggest that while 70 per cent of French support the "yellow vest" movement, six out of ten are now "worried" about violence.
In the midst of his most dangerous crisis since being elected, Mr Macron has gone virtually off the radar in recent days, hunkered down at the presidential palace and reliant on his prime minister, Edouard Philippe, to make announcements and offer concessions.
There was French press speculation that Mr Edouard may be sacrificed in an imminent reshuffle. He is not expected to speak before Monday.
”The President will speak early next week. I think this is what the French people want, they want answers," transport minister Elisabeth Borne told Sud Radio on Friday.
"The President will send a message to the French that he is listening to their anger...and that new answers have obviously to be found."
But Mr Macron was facing another outbreak of unrest on Friday after widespread outrage over footage showing the arrest of lycee students protesting against education reforms outside Paris.
Taken on Thursday at Mantes-la-Jolie, the film showed a group of students on their knees with their hands behind their head. They are being watched over by armed police officers whose faces are hidden by ski masks.
Far-Left parties slammed what they called police brutality while Philippe Martinez, head of the leftist CGT union, said: “You don’t hit kids.”
Mr Castaner said that 151 people were arrested in the small town, adding that some were adults, carried weapons and had thrown open gas canisters onto a burning barricade. While none of the students were injured, France's rights watchdog has opened an investigation into the arrests.
In one positive development for the presidency, the CGT and FO unions dropped a threat to call a rolling lorry strike that threatened to cripple the country starting from Sunday.
Two days after the government scrapping the green fuel tax that sparked the protests amid other sweeteners, the labour minister Muriel Penicaud held talks with bosses and unions on Friday, urging companies to consider boosting employees' wages.
"Everyone can do something, so everyone must do something," she said.