A closely watched yellow vest march in Paris has ended peacefully, though police fired tear gas on masked protesters after it dispersed and tensions erupted in other cities.
The numbers of demonstrators in Paris and nationwide Saturday are down from a week ago, when the yellow vest movement seeking economic justice saw a resurgence of protest participants and rioting.
The French Interior Ministry estimated 8,300 protesters were involved in actions as of mid-afternoon, including 3,100 in Paris. There were about 10,000 in Paris alone last week.
An hours-long march Saturday through Paris ended beneath the white domed Sacre-Coeur Cathedral atop the Montmartre hill. Tourists milled amid crowds of yellow-vested demonstrators.
No clashes broke out during the march but police started firing on masked protesters who were shouting and throwing projectiles on a nearby boulevard after it ended.
French television showed images of tear gas fired by police and fires set by protesters in the southern city of Montpellier. Protesters scuffled with police in Nice, where protests in the center of town were banned.
Thousands of yellow vest protesters are marching through Paris amid heightened security a week after resurgent rioting by demonstrators angry at President Emmanuel Macron.
The crowd gathered peacefully at Denfert-Rochereau Square in southern Paris and then headed through the Left Bank. The protesters are expected to finish Saturday's march in the tourist-heavy neighborhood of Montmartre around its signature monument, the hilltop Sacre-Coeur Cathedral.
Paris police said they detained 51 people by early afternoon, issued 29 fines and conducted 4,688 "preventive checks" on protesters entering the capital.
Police blocked protesters from streets off the officially declared march route. Protesters were also barred from the Arc de Triomphe and ritzy Champs-Elysees avenue, scene of life-threatening fires and ransacked luxury stores a week ago.
The yellow vest movement has been losing support but is trying to keep up pressure on Macron over policies they see as favoring big business and the rich.
The French government vowed to strengthen security as yellow vest protesters stage a 19th round of demonstrations, following last week's riots in Paris.
Authorities banned protests from the capital's Champs-Elysees avenue and central areas of several cities including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and Nice in the south, and Rouen in western France.
New Paris police chief Didier Lallement, who took charge following last week's protests, said specific police units have been created to react faster to any violence.
Authorities also deployed soldiers to protect sensitive sites and allow police forces to focus on maintaining order during the protests.
In Paris, yellow vests issued calls for a gathering on Trocadero plaza, next to the Eiffel Tower, and a demonstration from the south of the capital to Montmartre neighborhood.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.