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Protesters in a pacific move against heavy armed police forces

Protesters in a pacific move against heavy armed police forces

History is on its way in France, with its yellow vest insurrection and I couldn’t let it go without being part of it as a visual witness, due to my photo and video journalist background
By Franc Peret

I left home at 5:30 am took a train and spent my day in Paris, searching for snapshots in the heat of the yellow vest insurrection.

Empty Paris, shut down by police forces, Concorde place.

Subway stations being shut down, I walked for hours from “Paris-Bercy” to “Place de l’Étoile” through “Bastille” (about 11 kms due to many major streets blocked by police).

Police Check point filtering protesters flow.
welcome team. More than 8900 police forces were controlling Paris

I saw policemen disguised as protesters, I got 6 safety body search prior to reach “Champs Élysées”.

Police kept my protective goggle and my light gas mask to be sure I will be suffering during their coming assault.
I followed a growing marching group to destination.

Special unit for special occasion and they are going to charge against people like good old time, stick replacing the saber as they are not officially allowed to kill protester anymore…
People are protesting in hope they will not finish their life, sleeping outdoor in winter, on a subway aeration grid at the bottom of luxury brand building.

They were coming from all parts of France, with no leaders and no political party for telling people where to go and what to do.

The leftover countryside crowd filling the luxury avenue of Champs Elysees.

Most of them reacted against the official message from our government: “Don’t go to Paris, it will be too dangerous and our forces will be tough on illegal protesters (they consider us all as illegal anyway)”.

The trap is ready
Stand by before action

Reaching “Champs Élysées”, men in uniform let us in, but never let us out until mid afternoon.

No trespassing
Holding people tight, giving pressure.

Waiting for the rest of the crowd, we exchanged jokes and opinion with very friendly Gendarme (kind of police belonging to Army corp) locking the way to the “Place de l’Étoile”.

Friendly contacts on both side. We are both toys victim of dirty politician game. Why should we fight?

Later on, they protected us against some very aggressive policemen in combat gear.

Police attacks

Locked in a trap, we swallowed tear gas for hours.

Flashball were also heavily used against average people (not the destructive ones) causing hundreds of casualties.
More than 10 000 tear gas ammunitions used against the crowd.

Once I threw up and cried a lot.

Singing national anthem in protest to police violence against their people

I became blind and lost my way, until a baton pushed me away in the right direction. I was in the most dangerous location; among men in gear.

Media were allowed to wear heavy protective gear and they couldn’t capture protester’s suffering under police assault.
Many protesters chose a posture against violence to emphasize the treatment they undergo..

Few minutes later, I got shot by a flash ball in my right leg.

kneeling or…

Luckily, it bounced on somebody else before hitting me.
The old lady was bleeding, and I just got a bruise.

Explosion, flashball and gas again…

Protesting nurse, doctors and firemen in strike took care of people in pain like us.

Femen facing Gendarme who smartly set a woman in front of them.
Femen participated to the protest despite the freezing temperature.

My leg was steep and I had great difficulties to reach back my train station, hobbling for 2 hours, on the irregular pavement of the Seine river bank.

As they felt let down by government, lots of retired people joined the demonstration and some with a hint of humor.

Back in the train, i realized that I didn’t sit for a single second during the last 10 hours.

A huge number of journalists offer a wide range of pictures and video on the net concerning this series of protest
More importantly, many protesters holding a smart phone were able to record events never shown by official medias.

I was not fully satisfied with my pictures and video, as my lack of protection, experience and updated information plus my protective instinct kept me away from the hottest event.

The most protected areas belong to government.

Thus I went back once again to Paris the following Saturday, with a better understanding of the situation but a worst lighting situation due to a winter style overcast day…



– All pictures were shot with Panasonic Lumix GH5 + 12-35 mm f/2.8 + 35-100 mm f/2.8 + Voigtlander 25 mm f/0.95.
– Wide format pictures and panoramic views were extracted from my 4K video footage.

Former photo journalist, Film maker and ELC Shanghai Photography teacher, Franc Peret is teaching Essential Photography Classes, Advanced Photography Workshop and Film Making Classes in Shanghai, for the last 13 years.
If you wish to contact Franc, just drop an email to

Hugging the national flag
Wearing the national flag
Kneeling with the national flag.
Ready to collapse barricade
Writing while peeing (team work): : “FUCK MACRON” (Macron is president of France).
Dogs were invited to the party
Smoking Paris and the crowd.
Asking for a new democratic model.
Robocop indicating the right way
Force, protesters and crowd.
Protected stores against potential riot.
Empty Paris for several Saturdays and more to come. Anger is still vivid…