Dozens arrested as French farmers block Arc de Triomphe

AFP/The Local France
AFP/The Local France - [email protected]
Dozens arrested as French farmers block Arc de Triomphe
Tractors parked by the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees during a protest by the French farmers' union in Paris on March 1, 2024. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP

French farmers blocked traffic around Paris's famed Arc de Triomphe monument with tractors and bales of hay on Friday morning, saying the protest was aimed "at saving French agriculture".


Farmers across Europe have been protesting for weeks over what they say are excessively restrictive environmental rules, competition from cheap imports from outside the European Union and low incomes.

The farmers held up banners around the monument on the Champs-Elysées avenue.

Farmer Axel Masson said about 100 of his peers had gathered at the arterial roundabout from 3am "in a peaceful and law-abiding manner".


The protest was lead by the rightwing, anti-EU farming union Coordination rurale, one of several farming unions who have been involved in protests across France in recent weeks.

"The Rural Coordination takes over the Arc de Triomphe symbolically and peacefully," the farmers' union said in a statement on social media platform X, adding that it was a cry to "save" agriculture in France.


It said it wanted "wants quick action to save 45 percent of our farms which are in financial distress".

Masson said the farmers laid a wreath in memory of their colleagues who had been driven to suicide by financial woes, adding: "The state has never heard us".

Police said they had made 66 arrests and the road is now reopened.

French farmers have continued to block roads, set fire to tyres and lay siege to supermarkets, saying they need more measures, after the government promised reforms.

The nationwide roadblocks mostly came to an end at the start of February with the largest farming unions the FNSEA and Jeune Agriculteurs agreeing to suspend protests after being given assurances by the government.

However they set a deadline of the start of the Salon de l'Agriculture - France's largest farm show, held every year in Paris - for the government to give more concrete proposals.

The show comes to an end on Sunday, a visit earlier in the week by president Emmanuel Macron was marked by scuffles between police and a small number of protesters.


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