It won’t be the storming of the Bastille, but French yellow vest protesters are planning an equally powerful, symbolic act by marching in the ancient royal city of Versailles. In 1789, a French mob marched on Versailles, which led to the overthrow of King Louis XVI.
The Palace of Versailles, site of many historic events, will be closed to tourists as demonstrators march against the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
Jean-Jacques Brot, prefect of the Yvelines region, told reporters the demonstration would be confined to the city’s central avenue, well away from the palace and shopping areas.
Versailles was a focal point of the French revolution and the October 1789 march on the palace by the Parisian mob led to overthrown and subsequent execution of King Louis XVI.
According to a prefecture official quoted by daily Ouest France, about 1,400 people have said they would take part in the march following a call to demonstrate in Versailles by one of the yellow vest leaders on Thursday.
“We are ready in case the protest focuses on Versailles, but it could also be elsewhere,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Thursday.
The protesters have been blocking roads and taking over toll booths in recent weeks, leading to several fatal car crashes. A motorist in Perpignan was killed last night when his car was hit by a truck at a road block. It was the tenth fatality recorded during the protests.
The French government is saying that the fire is being taken out of the demonstrations:
But the movement – named after the fluorescent vests motorists are required to have in their cars – has gradually lost steam in recent weeks, with just 66,000 people taking part in protests nationwide last Saturday compared to nearly 300,000 on Nov. 17., according to interior ministry data.
True or not, the number of demonstrators isn’t as important as what they’re doing in the streets. Hundreds of businesses and shops across the country are closed this weekend before Christmas, costing them millions of euros in lost revenue in addition to the millions they’ve lost already.
It doesn’t look like there is anything President Macron can do to appease the mob because their protest has no focal point. The demonstrations are an expression of the frustration and anger felt by ordinary Frenchmen at how the government has taken them for granted in creating policies and new taxes they feel they were not consulted on. From refugees to a falling standard of living, the French people feel betrayed and no government giveaways are going to assuage their anger.