France protests: Macron’s favorite bistro, La Rotonde, is attacked

Protesters have attacked one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s favorite restaurants in Paris, as tensions over contentious pension reforms remain high.

Riot police were forced to form a barricade around the La Rotonde bistro, which had briefly caught fire.

Thursday marked the 11th day of unrest since January over legislation raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old.

Next week, the country will learn whether the legislation is constitutional.

The Constitutional Council will rule on the reforms on April 14 and has the authority to overturn some or all of them.

Mr. Macron is in China right now to meet with President Xi Jinping.

The unrest, combined with strike action, has caused widespread disruption throughout France, and demonstrations took place across the country again on Thursday.

Leaders of trade unions are hoping for a large turnout to maintain momentum ahead of the council’s decision.

Macron remains defiant as French pension protests heat up.
“We haven’t given up yet, and we don’t intend to,” said Davy Chretien, 50, a public servant quoted by the AFP news agency in Marseille.

Protesters in Paris threw stones, bottles, and paint at police at La Rotonde, a famous cafe frequented by celebrities such as Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Following his election victory in 2017, Mr. Macron and his team celebrated there.

Earlier, striking railway workers stormed the former Credit Lyonnais bank headquarters, which now houses the BlackRock investment firm and other businesses.

The interior ministry estimated that 570,000 people participated in Thursday’s strikes, but French unions claimed that the figure was much higher, at nearly two million.

The unions have called for new strikes and protests on April 13th, the day before the reform ruling.

Though the protests have been mostly peaceful, there has been some violence since the government decided in March to force the legislation through the lower house of parliament without a vote, despite the fact that it lacks an absolute majority.

Mr. Macron has defended the move, claiming that it is necessary.

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