Hundreds arrested in France as minister says protests now 'under control'

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner Casataner estimated there were 10,000 yellow vest protesters in Paris on Saturday, among some 125,000 protesters around the country.

Interior minister estimates 125,000 people protested across France on Saturday

Protesters wearing yellow vests kneel along the Champs-Elysées avenue near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday during a national day of protest against the high cost of living in France. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

France's interior minister says the protest violence in Paris is "under control" despite scattered tensions, but is calling it "totally unacceptable."

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner says 135 people were injured in the protests Saturday, including 17 police officers. He says "exceptional" security measures led to police putting nearly 1,000 people in custody.

Casataner estimated there were 10,000 yellow vest protesters in Paris on Saturday, among some 125,000 protesters around the country.

Protesters smashed store windows and set fires around Paris and clashed with police, who fired tear gas throughout the day in the French capital.

Police were searching people throughout zones of central Paris and confiscating goggles and gas masks from journalists who use them to protect against tear gas while covering demonstrations.

Police barred some provincial "yellow vest" protesters from boarding trains to Paris in an effort to prevent a repeat of last week's rioting.

Eiffel Tower closed amid more Paris protests:

The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum will be among the dozens of popular tourist attractions shuttered in Paris as French authorities tighten security to prevent another outbreak of violence following three weeks of anti-government protests. 1:47

A group of four protesters who came to Paris from Normandy on Saturday said they saw people wearing yellow vests turned away at train stations all along their route. They said fellow protesters trying to reach Paris from Toulouse in southern France reported the same problems.

A national police spokesperson said officers stationed at train stations around the country are under orders to verify all passengers and turn away any carrying equipment that could be used to "cause damage to people or property."

Three Associated Press journalists had gas masks and protective goggles confiscated by police despite carrying government-issued press cards. The equipment allows journalists to cover violence between police and protesters when tear gas is fired.

Protesters face off with police on the Champs-Elysées on Saturday. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

Last weekend, more than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested in the worst street violence seen in Paris in decades.

Since the unrest began on Nov. 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in violence related to the protests.

The ongoing protests have led Global Affairs to issue a travel advisory to Canadians travelling to France. It's telling them to avoid areas where the demonstrations are taking place because "acts of vandalism and violence are very likely."

Saturday's 'yellow vest' protests: 

The CBC's Thomas Daigle is in the streets of Paris, where thousands of the so-called yellow vest demonstrators are clashing with police again. But despite the violence, there are fewer of those clashes compared to last weekend. 2:00

With files from CBC's Thomas Daigle