Dozens arrested at farmers' protest on Champs-Elysees in Paris

AFP:   French police said Friday they had arrested 66 people at a farmers' protest on the Champs-Elysees in central Paris that blocked traffic during the morning rush hour.

Using tractors and bales of hay, farmers briefly brought traffic to a halt on the famed avenue near the Arc de Triomphe monument, only a short distance from President Emmanuel Macron's office, the Elysee.

The protesters, who held up banners on the avenue, said their action was aimed "at saving French agriculture".

Farmers across Europe have been protesting for weeks over what they say are excessively restrictive environmental rules, competition from cheap imports from outside the European Union and low incomes.

Farmer Axel Masson said about 100 of his peers had gathered at the arterial roundabout from 3:00 am (0200 GMT) "in a peaceful and law-abiding manner".

Some of the protesters handed out bags of potatoes to motorists stuck in crawling traffic around the Arc de Triomphe, AFP reporters at the scene said.

Several were seen chatting with police officers before the arrests.

"The Rural Coordination takes over the Arc de Triomphe symbolically and peacefully," the farmers' union said earlier in a statement on social media platform X, adding that it was a cry to "save" agriculture in France.

It said it "wants quick action to save 45 percent of our farms which are in financial distress".

Masson said the farmers laid a wreath in memory of their colleagues who had been driven to suicide by financial woes, adding: "The state has never heard us".

French farmers have continued to block roads, set fire to tyres and lay siege to supermarkets, saying they need more measures, even after the government promised reforms.

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