Protesters set Macron’s favorite Paris restaurant on fire

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Protesters opposing Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform set fire to La Rotonde, the French president’s favorite Paris restaurant.

According to local media, 300 protesters clashed with police outside the fancy eatery on Paris’ renowned Boulevard du Montparnasse on Thursday.

Stones, bottles, and flares were thrown at security officers, causing the distinctive red awnings in front of La Rotonde to catch fire. According to the media, firefighters who were quick to arrive on the site prevented the flames from spreading further and extinguished the conflagration.

Macron chose La Rotonde to commemorate his victory in the 2017 presidential election. He has also dined at the costly restaurant on numerous other times, occasionally with foreign leaders. The French president earlier told reporters that he fell in love with the city during his college years.

The cafe has recently become a favorite target of Macron’s critics, who accuse him of being “the president of the rich.”

In January 2020, a fire on the restaurant’s patio resulted in the arrest of a Yellow Vests protester on suspicion of arson.

La Rotonde opened in 1903 and quickly became popular among Paris’ creative thinkers during the two world wars. Ernest Hemingway, Jean Cocteau, Guillaume Apollinaire, and others have all visited.

During his presidential campaign in 2017, Emmanuel Macron visited La Rotonde. Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt / AFP
France has been gripped by large-scale, frequently violent protests since January over the government’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Tensions rose further last month when Macron used executive privilege to approve the pension reform law without a vote in parliament.