Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.
Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.
The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
THE SAINT SULPICE IN PARIS JUST IGNITED WHILE I WAS INSIDE pic.twitter.com/40PHCZ177w— lil g (@lili_gasparr) March 17, 2019
The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi "I'm going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces," adding "I'm happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas" referring to the lack of snow in December.
In response to Saturday's violence, Macron said over Twitter that "strong decisions" were coming to prevent more violence.
Macron said some individuals -- dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces -- were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. -Bloomberg
The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.