In brief

  • Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and dozens of museums to close on Saturday
  • Restaurants and shops in the centre of Paris may shut
  • 65,000 security forces deployed across France

Dozens of museums and landmarks in Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, will close on Saturday amid fears of further anti-government riots.

The Louvre, Orsay museum, the Grand Palais and two operas are among the tourist sites that will be shut a week after anti-government protestors defaced the Arc de Triomphe, French Culture Minister Franck Riester said.

Paris police have also urged shop and restaurant owners on the Champs-Elysees and other major shopping street to shut their doors after some of the worst rioting in decades last weekend.

More than 65,000 security forces will be deployed across France following country-wide road blockades over the last three weeks.

Protests over fuel tax hikes have expanded into anti-Macron demonstrations that have gained support across the political spectrum, including far right and far left groups.

The Eiffel Tower announced it will be closed to visitors on Thursday, following similar decisions from several museums and other cultural sites.

Tickets bought online will be refunded, the company operating the Paris monument said on Twitter.

Four of the weekend’s first division football matches have been postponed, including Paris and Montpellier.

Police unions and local authorities held emergency meetings on how to handle the weekend protests, while disparate groups of protesters did the same thing, sharing their plans on social networks and chat groups.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told senators on Thursday that the government will deploy “exceptional” security measures for the protests in Paris and elsewhere, with additional new forces on top of the 65,000 security officers already in place.

Some “yellow vest” protesters, members of France’s leading unions and prominent politicians across the political spectrum called for calm after the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend. President Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, part of his plans to combat global warming, but protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students. In a move questioned by both critics and supporters, the president himself has disappeared from public view.

French police have come under criticism for failing to prevent damage to the Arc de Triomphe and stores along the famed Champs-Elysees in central Paris last weekend – as well as for violence against protesters. Videos on social media of police beating protesters at a Burger King near the Champs-Elysees have stoked the anger. A police spokeswoman said that an investigation is under way into that incident and police are examining other videos online for possible violations. President Macron, the central target of the protests, has been largely invisible all week. After winning an election overwhelmingly last year, the 40-year-old pro-business centrist has sought to make France more competitive globally. But his efforts have alienated many of his own voters with tax cuts for the rich to spur investment and other badly explained reforms – and what many see as his elitist, out-of-touch attitude.

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