Tis the season for protests:
Huge Protest Puts France to the Test
Fissures in Government Appear Over Job Law
By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; A13
...The country's largest single demonstration -- a gathering in central Paris's Place de la Republique that unions estimated at 700,000 -- underscored the divisions in French society. Gangs of youths from poor suburban areas swarmed among the students and workers, snatching cellphones and knapsacks.
Later, as screaming demonstrators ran from police water cannons and clouds of tear gas, men in business suits and women in fur coats watched from the balconies of luxury apartments high above the fray. Gray-haired diners at Les Freres Blancs restaurant sipped wine by candlelight, ignoring the frantic scenes unfolding outside the front windows...