Thousands march across France for the Gilets Jaunes' "Act XV"

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Thousands march across France for the Gilets Jaunes' "Act XV"
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REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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Tens of thousands of Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protesters celebrated the 15th week of the movement with marches in Paris and all around France and a festive picnic at the Chambord Castle in the Loire, central France.

There were more than 46,000 Gilets Jaunes protesting across France, including 5,800 in Paris, according to the French Interior ministry. Last week, they were 41,000, including 3,000 in Paris.

In Paris, the march started on the Champs-Elysees with planned stops at Opera, the Louvre museum and the Trocadero. Several thousands of protesters attended the march in Paris for the 15th day of national action since the creation of the movement, in November 2018

Protests were also organised in several French cities, with hundreds marching in Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Rouen, Rennes, Pau. In Toulouse, Gilets Jaunes protesters blocked an Amazon warehouse on the outskirts of town, preventing deliveries.

Gilets Jaunes also organised a picnic on the lawns of the Chambord castle, some 180 kms south of Paris, which was built in 1519 as the royal residence of French king François the First. They were around 1,200, according to local police.

With music and food stalls, the atmosphere was pacific and familial at Chambord, where some protesters played football on the lawn, the AFP reported.

Priscillia Ludovsky, one of the movement's most recognisable faces, attended the picnic. She told the AFP that the movement's absence of vertical organisation is both "its strength and its weakness". To ensure that the Chambord event went smoothly, a hundred protesters wearing "white vests" acted as coordinators with the authorities and the castle administration.

The Gilets Jaunes chose the Chambord castle because French president Emmanuel Macron rented the place to celebrate his 40th birthday in December 2017.

Meanwhile, president Macron visited the French Agriculture show, where he pet cows and addressed French farmers. Eric Drouet, a prominent voice in the most radical fringes of the Gilets Jaunes movement, tried to approach the president at the event.

"Dialogue [between the yellow vests and the government] was broken some time ago", Drouet told the AFP. "We came to see what the president had to say." He could not approach Macron and later joined the Paris march.

Last Wednesday, at least 600 Gilets jaunes gathered in Geneva outside the United Nations European headquarters to denounce alleged French police brutality against the movement.