News Alerts

01 May 2019 | 05:30 AM UTC

France: Mass demonstrations expected nationwide May 1 /update 2

France News Alert

“Yellow vest” movement and other groups plan large demonstrations across France on May 1; significant business and transportation disruptions possible

TIMEFRAME expected from 5/1/2019, 12:00 AM until 5/4/2019, 11:59 PM (Europe/Paris). COUNTRY/REGION France, Paris, Lyon

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The "yellow vest" movement and other groups, including unions, the "black blocs," and "ultras," are planning mass demonstrations in Paris and across France on Wednesday, May 1. An estimated 115,000 people will attend demonstrations in France, including around 30,000 in Paris. In Paris, trade union and student group members will meet at Montparnasse at 14:30 (local time) before marching to Place d'Italie. Another similar march is planned at 11:00 from the Place des Fêtes to Place de la République. Other marches and protests are likely at the Place du Panthéon, the Place de l'Odéon, Pont du Carrousel, and Place des Pyramides. Demonstrations are similarly expected in Lyon's city center from 11:00 to 20:00. Protests are also likely in other cities across the country.

Government officials banned protests on Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the presidential palace, and near Notre Dame. Some groups may attempt to stage protests near or on Champs-Élysées. The demonstrations are expected to be largely peaceful, but riots, vandalism, and clashes with security forces cannot be ruled out. More generally, business and transportation disruptions, including congestion on public transportation and road blocks, are likely near demonstration sites.

Additional "yellow vest" protests are to be expected across France over the coming weeks, particularly on Saturdays. A heightened security presence is to be anticipated near related demonstrations. Localized transportation and business disruptions are likely near protest sites, and clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.


May 1 is International Workers' Day and celebrated as Labor Day, a public holiday, in France.

The "yellow vest" movement began on November 17, 2018, to protest rising fuel prices and a planned fuel tax. It has since grown to encompass a number of popular grievances against the French government. Some protests have turned violent and acts of vandalism and looting have been reported, although the scale of the protests has diminished since their height in December. Demonstrations have continued despite French government proposals to address protesters' concerns. President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of reforms on April 25, including closing corporate tax loopholes, income tax cuts, linking pensions to inflation by 2020, and reforms to referendum processes, among others.


Individuals in France, particularly Paris, are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and public gatherings due to the risk of violence, allow additional time to reach their destinations, anticipate a heightened security presence and business and transportation disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.


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