Bordeaux, one of the bastions of the four-month-old anti-government protest movement, has, like Paris, seen repeated rioting and destruction of property during successive Saturday protests that draw thousands of people.
The centre-right mayor of France's fifth-biggest city by population, Nicolas Florian, said he was “very worried” about this weekend's edition, the 20th since mid-November.
“We're told there will be hundreds of hooligans and people who are spoiling for a fight (with the police),” said Florian, who took over from his long-serving predecessor Alain Juppe on March 7.
Bordeaux has seen several large and peaceful demonstrations since the “yellow vest” movement began. Photo: AFP
“I'm asking shop owners to lower their shutters for protection and I'm asking the people of Bordeaux to stay home to allow the police do their work and not risk any accident,” he told reporters.
At the start of the year, the “yellow vest” movement had appeared to be losing steam, with dwindling numbers of protesters seen by some as evidence that the hundreds of town-hall style debates on policy called by President Emmanuel Macron had defused their anger.
But two weeks ago, it revved up again, erupting into major rioting and looting on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris.
The Bordeaux police said they were bracing for similar scenes there on Saturday.
It cited the “manifest desire of certain violent, very determined groups to cause a major disturbance of the peace and damage” and declared a large part of the city centre off-limits to the protesters.
On Friday, one of the key figures in the movement was fined €2,000 for organising two Paris protests without informing the authorities.
Eric Drouet, a 34-year-old truck driver who created a Facebook page that helped rally protesters against fuel taxes last November, did not appear at his trial because of work obligations, said his lawyer, who announced he would appeal the ruling.
He has denied being one of the organisers of the leaderless, grassroots revolt.