Normally, this time of the year, the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris has a festive air with Christmas decorations and happy shoppers looking for last minute presents. This season, however, what the French like to boast about as “the most beautiful avenue in the world” looks more like a war zone. The reason is the phenomenon labeled “les gilets jaunes” or “yellow vests”, a movement that started as a protest against an increase in the price of diesel and quickly galumphed towards an all-out attack on the French political system.
At first glance one might say: we have been there, done that and bought the T-shirt!
Setting fire to parked cars and city dustbins, shattering shop windows and looting stores are old tactics of French protest movements, as witnessed on numerous occasions, most recently 2003 and 2005.
However, the current uprising, now in its sixth week, is different from previous protests for a number of reasons.