As French protests over plans to raise the pension age continued, the town hall of Bordeaux was torched. According to sources, more than a million people took to the streets across France on Thursday, with 119,000 in Paris.
Police fired tear gas at protesters in the nation's capital, and eighty individuals were arrested throughout the country. The legislation increasing the retirement age by two years to 64 sparked the protests.
The unions have called for additional demonstrations next Tuesday, which will coincide with the state visit of King Charles III. King Charles III was scheduled to be in Bordeaux on the day when the fire engulfed the front door of the town hall on Thursday evening, following a day of protests and clashes.
It was unclear who started the fire, which was quickly extinguished by firefighters. According to sources, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin sought to allay any concerns prior to the King's trip by stating Thursday night that security "presents no problem" and the monarch will be "welcomed and welcomed well." During usually peaceful demonstrations in Paris, police occasionally clashed with disguised rioters who wrecked shop windows, destroyed street furniture, and attacked a McDonald's restaurant.
A fellow officer dragged a fellow officer to safety after he lost consciousness. 33 people were arrested in the capital after police used tear gas and were pelted by objects and fireworks. A demonstrator mentioned that they opposed this reform and they strongly oppose the fact that democracy no longer means anything. He mentioned that they were fed up as they are not being represented.
The protests also impacted train travel, oil refineries, and the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, where teachers and employees walked off the job. Popular tourist sights such as the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles, where King Charles and the French president are scheduled to have dinner next week, were also closed on Thursday.
A young woman with a severe hand injury was observed lying on the ground in the northern city of Rouen. According to witnesses, she lost her thumb after being hit by a flash ball grenade that was fired by police to clear the streets. Additional conflicts occurred in the western cities of Nantes, Rennes, and Lorient.
In Nantes, a protester stated, "The street has legitimacy in France." "If Mr. Macron cannot recall this historical fact, I have no idea what he's doing here." Unions and the political left deemed the day a success, but the future of the situation remains uncertain.
Government officials anticipate a certain loss of momentum. It will also hope that the outbreaks of street violence will turn people away from the protests. The opposition asserts that protests will not diminish, but unions will need to develop a long-term strategy rather than promising more days like Thursday.
Garbage collectors in Paris, who began their strike against the pension reform on March 6, have extended it until Monday. The unrest stems from the government's decision to force pension age-raising legislation through the lower house of parliament without a vote, where it lacks an absolute majority. President Emmanuel Macron of France defended the move, stating that the reform is essential.
Prime Minister of France Élisabeth Borne has stated that the changes are necessary to prevent a major deficit in the future.