Macron evacuated from Paris theatre as protesters block exits over pension reforms

David Chazan
A protester speaks in a megaphone during a demonstration in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris  - AFP

Emmanuel Macron’s Friday night theatre outing came to a disagreeable end when police had to rescue the president and his wife from dozens of protesters furious over his pension reforms.

Demonstrators besieged the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, where the company led by Peter Brook, the British director, is based, after being alerted to the Macrons’ presence by social media posts.

The protesters tried to force their way into the theatre, where Mr Macron and his wife Brigitte were watching The Fly, but riot police held them back.

Scuffles broke out as the demonstrators chanted slogans against the president’s reforms and called for his resignation.

Security officers and police eventually escorted France’s first couple to safety, but the incident raised questions about presidential security. 

A protester speaks in a megaphone during a demonstration in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris  Credit: AFP

MPs from across the political spectrum condemned what many described as  “harassment” of the Macrons. Marine Le Pen, the far-Right leader, said: “These actions must be condemned, but above all they are worrying because they reveal a rise in tension over the past year and a half.” 

CRS riot police stand as protestors gather in front of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris on where the French President attended a play Credit:  LUCAS BARIOULET/AFP

In a separate incident, activists from radical trade unions invaded the headquarters of the relatively moderate CFDT union to protest against its leader’s willingness to negotiate with the government over the pension reforms.

Laurent Berger, the CFDT leader, said the activists “verbally and physically attacked CFDT staff members. We will not be intimidated.”

Mr Berger has welcomed the government’s offer to suspend plans to raise the age of eligibility for a full pension from 62 to 64.

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) flanked by Niger's President in a press conference earlier this week Credit: AFP

The hardline CGT and Sud-Rail unions have vowed to pursue the strike until the government ditches its reform plans. The number of workers still striking has fallen, however, and transport services are slowly resuming.

Protesters now appear to be focusing on targeted high-profile operations such as blockading the Louvre museum, forcing it to close on Friday.

Brigitte Macron (C), wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, and her advisors look at products made in France displayed in the courtyard of the Elysee in Paris Credit: AFP

Striking lawyers who oppose Mr Macron’s plan to scrap France’s more than 40 different state pension schemes in favour of a universal system, which they believe would be less favourable to them, demonstrated outside courts this week.

Anti-government yellow-vest protesters marched through Paris on Saturday.