Police fired tear gas to push back black-clad protesters who ransacked business premises during May Day demonstrations against the policies of President Emmanuel Macron.
Violence has broken out in Paris during a Labour Day parade, with demonstrators going on the rampage to protest newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms.
Sunday's parade was organised by trade unions and students' groups to demand better working conditions and higher wages, and to oppose the proposed reforms that would increase the retirement age from 62 to 65.
A large number of people began the march around 2:30pm local time (1230GMT) from Place de la Republique.
A group of people covered in black broke away from the main procession at Boulevard Voltaire and resorted to vandalism, ransacking commercial properties, breaking glass windows of shops and lighting fires.
A BFMTV news report said around 20 properties and shops, including a McDonald's restaurant and several real estate agencies, had been affected.
At several places demonstrators threw projectiles at security personnel, as police in riot gear fired teargas shells to bring the situation under control.
“The thugs come to disrupt the May Day demonstrations, particularly in Paris, by committing unacceptable violence,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter.
Police arrested 45 people, including a person who attacked a fireman trying to put out a fire, Darmanin told a news conference. Eight police officers were injured.
A video on social media showed a protester wearing an orange helmet clashing with firefighters attempting to douse a fire at the intersection of Rue Alexandre Dumas and Boulevard Voltaire.
The fire brigade, Paris Pompiers, strongly condemned the aggression towards its personnel as a “scandalous attack”.
“Shame on the savagery, this new aggression towards the firefighters of Paris in the exercise of their functions, to protect the people, the property of the City and the smooth running of the event is incomprehensible,” it said on Twitter.
Left-wing leader Jean Luc Melenchon, who polled third in the recently concluded presidential elections, said he was fed up with “parasitic violence” on May 1, which made “the march of the unions invisible and serves as propaganda for our worst adversaries”.
He blamed the police in Paris for not taking timely action against the disruptors and failing to guarantee the “right to demonstrate in peace” to the aggrieved workers.
Elsewhere in France, May Day rallies were relatively peaceful.
Demonstrators protested against Macron, called for a left-wing and socialist government, and demanded a retirement age of 60.