Riot police were summoned and a man was injured by a harpoon when a mass brawl broke out on a beach in Corsica, apparently triggered by a tourist taking a photo of women in "burkinis".
The incident came after the Mayor of Cannes banned women from wearing the full-body, head-covering swimsuits on beaches of his Riviera town.
The riot in Corsica took place on Sunday in a cove near the village of Sisco in the north of the French Mediterranean island.
"It happened because a tourist was taking photos," said Ange-Pierre Vivoni, the local Mayor, on TF1 television. "And the Maghrebins (North Africans) didn't want to have their photos taken. It was quite a trivial matter to begin with."
Things got out of hand when young men of North African origin harangued the tourist who took the pictures, prompting other youngsters to intervene in defence of the visitor.
Police are still trying to establish how the incident turned into a riot, but local media said that a group of older North African men soon arrived, some armed with hatchets and harpoons, and took on the young Corsicans.
The unrest lasted for several hours, during which three cars were burned and four people had to be taken to hospital, one of them for a wound caused by a harpoon. A pregnant woman was among those hospitalised. Bernard Cazeneuve, the Interior Minister, was forced to issue a statement calling for calm.
Tensions were still high today, when a crowd of around 500 gathered in the nearby town of Bastia and tried to enter a housing estate with a high immigrant population. They chanted: "To arms, this is our place and we will go where we want".
Riot police held back the mob, which eventually dispersed.
Meanwhile, the far-Right candidate tipped to win Austria's presidential poll has promised to ban burqas and take his country out of the European Union if Turkey is ever allowed to join.
Norbert Hofer, from the Freedom Party (FPÖ), lost the last presidential election by a whisker in May to Alexander van der Bellen, a former Green Party leader. But the constitutional court in Vienna ordered the poll to be re-run in October because of counting irregularities.
Hofer told the Oesterreich newspaper that he, like his political opponents, wants to stop Turkey's long-running negotiations to join the EU. But he went further by suggesting that if Turkey did eventually join, then he would back an Austrian exit from the EU.
Hofer also said that he was in favour of a ban on religious clothing, such as the burqa worn by some Muslim women to cover their faces when in public. "Yes, I think (a ban) makes sense," he said.