yellow vest gilet jaune
© AFP - Alain Jocard
A man holds a placard reading "Tomorrow the sky will be yellow" as protesters wearing face masks gather to take part in a Yellow Vests demonstration on September 12, 2020 in Paris.
After pausing for the coronavirus lockdown and summer holidays, the Yellow Vests are bringing their anger back to the streets for a series of protests in Paris and a number of other French cities on Saturday.

In France, the schools are back and so too are the Yellow Vest protests. The first Yellow Vest protests since March in Paris and in several large provincial cities is a test for the government under its new prime minister, Jean Castex.

There is the fear of another outbreak of violence on the Champs-Elysées where all gatherings have been banned. Shopfronts have been boarded over and barricades erected even though no protests are officially allowed.

2,300 people indicated that they still intended to take part in the rally on the Champs-Elysées, and 7,000 showed interest, according to the event's Facebook page.

According to police sources, 4,000 to 5,000 demonstrators are expected in Paris, including potentially violent 'black bloc' protesters.

Two demonstrations have been authorised to take place in Paris at a distance from the Champs-Elysees by the Paris Police Prefecture (PPP): one from the Place de la Bourse, in the centre of the capital; the other from the Place Wagram, in the west.

"There can be no destruction and chaos on the Champs-Elysées," police prefect Didier Lallemant said on BFMTV, calling for "calm" as the activity of the shops on the avenue has been severely disrupted during previous editions of these demonstrations, which were marred by violence and destruction.

According to the PPP, there had been 200 arrests in Paris by 3pm on Saturday.

While other rallies are also planned in the provinces, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, presented on Friday an outline of the government's new doctrine for maintaining order, which should make it possible to guarantee both security and the right to demonstrate. From this Saturday, the forces of law and order will use a new defensive grenade known as GMD. It is said to be less dangerous than the previous one used and its use will be supervised. This weapon's primary purpose is to break up groups of people.

Comment: Is this the government's way of admitting that the previous weaponry was, indeed, maiming innocent citizens? Yellow Vest protesters who have lost eyes, limbs demand justice from Macron

The Yellow Vests, named after the high-visibility jackets they wear, protested every Saturday for 70 weeks until the lockdown. The movement emerged late in 2018, triggered by fuel tax rises, and swelled into a revolt against Macron's government.

Their last major protest was on March 14, 2020, on the eve of local elections. This was just three days before the country went into lockdown for Covid-19. They were in defiance of a ban from President Macron over mass gatherings.

It is almost two years since the first Yellow Vest protest on November 17, 2018. Their numbers at first soared and then ebbed. The question now is whether they will rise again like a Phoenix from the ashes as social dissension grows over Covid restrictions.