French police have fired tear gas at protesters on Paris’ Champs Elysees avenue who are demonstrating against coronavirus restrictions.
Cars carrying protesters managed to get through police checkpoints to cause traffic around the Arc de Triomphe monument to grind to a halt.
The protesters waved French flags and sounded their horns in defiance of the police order.
Police intercept 500 vehicles and hand out 300 tickets
Officers told demonstrators to move on as some climbed on their cars in the middle of the roundabout at the top of the Champs Elysees.
Police in Paris had earlier said they had intercepted at least 500 vehicles attempting to enter the capital in defiance of a police order not to take part in the protests. Police also said nearly 300 penalty tickets had been handed out by mid-morning.
Over 7,000 officers mobilised
More than 7,000 officers have been mobilised to various checkpoints around the city in preparation for the protests.
The police have also deployed armoured personnel carriers and water cannon trucks.
Police said five protesters had been arrested in southern Paris in possession of sling shots, hammers, knives and gas masks.
Protesters inspired by Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’
The demonstrations are inspired by Canada’s “Freedom Convoy”, which has crippled the capital city of Ottawa for two weeks.
Truckers protesting a vaccine mandate for crossing the country’s border with the US have also blocked several US-Canada crossing points.
Less than two months away from a presidential election, French President Emmanuel Macron is eager to avoid the protests turning into large-scale anti-government protests like the “Yellow Vest” demonstrations of 2018.