Protesters at a yellow vest demonstration in Marseille yesterday. Photo / AP

Scuffles between Paris police and activists yesterday marred the anniversary of the birth of the yellow vest movement against government policies seen as favouring the rich.

On a day of largely peaceful demonstrations across France, there was some violence in the capital that ended up with police firing tear gas and water cannons.

Paris police chief Didier Lallement denounced "people who came not to defend a cause but to destruct things" and deplored "attacks against security forces but also against firefighters".

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Police use pepper spray during a yellow vest demonstration marking the one year anniversary of the movement in Marseille, southern France, Nov. 16, 2019. Photo / AP
Police use pepper spray during a yellow vest demonstration marking the one year anniversary of the movement in Marseille, southern France, Nov. 16, 2019. Photo / AP

Police used tear gas as protesters tried to smash windows and enter a shopping mall. Some were seen throwing stones at officers and setting fire to vehicles, trash cans and other items on Place d'Italie, in the southeast of the capital.

Lallement noted most protesters marched in a "quite serene" atmosphere in another demonstration from northwestern Paris to Bastille plaza, in the east of the capital.

Police had detained 105 people by late afternoon. All demonstrations were banned in a large perimeter including the Champs-Elysees, the presidential palace and both houses of parliament.

Tear gas envelopes protesters during a yellow vest demonstration in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Photo / AP
Tear gas envelopes protesters during a yellow vest demonstration in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Photo / AP

Protests were taking place around the country at traffic circles where the grassroots movement first took root in November 2018 in protest at plans to raise fuel taxes. For weeks, the protesters brought large parts of the country to a standstill.

The outpouring of anger at perceived social and economic injustice eventually prompted President Emmanuel Macron to reverse some of his tax plans and to offer 10 billion euros ($17b) in measures to address protesters' concerns.

- AP