This content is not available in your region
Participants of the so-called "Freedom Convoy" wave French flags as they gather before leaving Strasbourg for Paris on Friday.
Participants of the so-called "Freedom Convoy" wave French flags as they gather before leaving Strasbourg for Paris on Friday.   -   Copyright  AFP or licensors/AFP or licensors

'Freedom Convoy': Protesters opposing France's COVID restrictions head for Paris

Protesters from across France are planning to descend on Paris in a Canada-inspired "Freedom Convoy" on Friday to voice opposition to the country's COVID-19 vaccine and public health policies.

Organisers claim their goal is to peacefully voice opposition to infringement on their "freedom" and "fundamental rights".

But authorities claim the movement's objective is to "block the capital" and banned a planned demonstration in Paris.

The truckers' protests that inspired France's movement have paralyzed Ottawa, Canada's capital, and forced authorities there to declare a state of emergency. As of Friday morning, more than 350,000 users had joined a Facebook group connected to the movement.

On Wednesday several convoys left Nice, Bayonne and Perpignan in the south, aiming to reach the capital by Friday night. There have been calls to join Brussels for a "European convergence" scheduled for Monday.

GAIZKA IROZ/AFP or licensors
A woman blows a horn as a convoy departs Bayonne, France, on Wednesday.GAIZKA IROZ/AFP or licensors

About 200 people gathered in a parking lot in Nice with posters and French and Canadian flags, Reuters reported. Not all of the people setting out from Nice planned to travel all the way to Paris or Brussels. The convoy was made up of motorcycles and private cars, but no trucks.

“Our work is to communicate to Europe that putting in place a health pass until 2023 is something the majority of our fellow citizens cannot understand,” a man named Denis told Reuters.

VALERY HACHE/AFP or licensors
A man holds a banner reading "Macron, piss off too!" as a convoy prepares to leave Nice, France, on Wednesday.VALERY HACHE/AFP or licensors

By Friday morning, drivers had already left the northern city of Lille for Paris, a 225-kilometre drive.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Police cars drive ahead of the convoy that left Lille for Paris on Friday.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A large crowd in the eastern French city of Strasbourg gathered Friday morning to prepare for the journey as well.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Protesters gather for a convoy in Strasbourg before heading to Paris on Friday.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
People wave to the convoy as it departs.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
A protester clenches his fist from his car as the convoy gets going.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Another convoy left Lyon, in central France, Friday morning. Photos showed a smaller group gathered on an overcast morning, waving French flags and preparing for the journey in a parking lot.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
A protester waves a French flag as a part of the so-called French "Freedom Convoy" gets ready to leave Lyon, France, on Friday.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Protesters prepare to leave Lyon, France, on Friday.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
A protester sticks a sign that says "Freedom Convoy" on his car.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Another protester is seen carrying a French flag in Lyon.Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved