Paris burns as protestors hurl rats and set fire to restaurant favoured by Macron in response to pension reforms

6 April 2023, 19:12 | Updated: 6 April 2023, 19:37

French protestors set fire to restaurant favoured by Macron in response to pension reforms
French protestors set fire to restaurant favoured by Macron in response to pension reforms. Picture: LBC

By Danielle DeWolfe

Parisian protesters today set fire to a restaurant favoured by French President Emmanuel Macron, as angry national protests in response to proposed pension reforms continued.

Dozens of trade union members took to the streets of the French capital on Thursday in a stand against the raising of the pension age from 62 to 64, with protestors targeting Left Bank brasserie La Rotonde.

The restaurant’s canopy could be seen ablaze, with plumes of smoke rising into the air as protesters threw bottles and paint in clashes with police.

It comes as President Macron met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on the second day of his state visit to China.

The national protests, which began in January, saw pockets of violence erupt once again after talks between trade union leaders and prime minister Elisabeth Borne broke down.

It followed broadcaster BFM-TV televising footage of rodent corpses being thrown at City Hall by Parisian rat-catchers dressed in white hazmat suits.

The restaurant blaze followed broadcaster BFM-TV televising footage of rodent corpses being thrown at City Hall by Parisian rat-catchers dressed in white hazmat suits.
The restaurant blaze followed broadcaster BFM-TV televising footage of rodent corpses being thrown at City Hall by Parisian rat-catchers dressed in white hazmat suits. Picture: Twitter: @AlcazarViala

Natacha Pommet, leader of the public services branch of the CGT trade union, said the rat catchers wanted “to show the hard reality of their mission” in response to Macron’s pension bill.

The majority of French voters oppose the new legislation put forward by Macron according to the latest poll figures, as the French government’s decision to push the bill through parliament without a vote triggered widespread anger.

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La Rotonde, a well known Parisian eatery, is famed for hosting a celebratory dinner for Macron when he led the first round of the 2017 French presidential election – resulting in widespread criticism.

Earlier in the day, members of the railway workers’ union stormed the atrium of US-investment bank BlackRock, near the capital’s Grands Boulevards, setting off flares and firecrackers in protest.

The restaurant’s canopy could be seen ablaze, with plumes of smoke rising into the air as protesters threw bottles and paint in clashes with police.
The restaurant’s canopy could be seen ablaze, with plumes of smoke rising into the air as protesters threw bottles and paint in clashes with police. Picture: Getty

The chairman of BlackRock, Laurence D. Fink, has also historically been accused by the European Parliament of lobbying in a bid to break the traditional French pension model.

A Credit Agricole bank branch was also ransacked in Paris, despite the majority of protests remaining non-violent.

Road traffic to Paris’ largest airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle, was also disrupted, as police fired tear gas in other French cities.

The restaurant’s canopy could be seen ablaze, with plumes of smoke rising into the air as protesters threw bottles and paint in clashes with police.
The restaurant’s canopy could be seen ablaze, with plumes of smoke rising into the air as protesters threw bottles and paint in clashes with police. Picture: Getty

Protesters’ anger was echoed across France, with tear gas being fired by police at a group in Lyon after they were seen to be looting a Nespresso store.

France’s interior ministry has since said it has deployed around 11,500 police officers nationwide in response to the unrest, including 4,200 in Paris.

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