French yellow vest protesters continue to trouble Emmanuel Macron

French "yellow vest" protesters have marched through Paris and other cities in protest against high living costs and the perceived indifference of President Emmanuel Macron.

The street protests began peacefully in the French capital but degenerated later on Saturday afternoon as protesters hurled missiles at riot police barricading bridges over the Seine River and torched garbage bins on the glitzy Boulevard Saint Germain.

Despite a tense stand-off, the violence was far from the levels seen in early December.

Then, rioters ran amok in the city, torching dozens of cars, looting shops in posh neighbourhoods and defacing the Arc de Triomphe.

Officers fired tear gas to prevent hundreds of demonstrators crossing the river and reaching the National Assembly on Saturday.

One riverboat restaurant was set ablaze and a policeman wounded when he was struck by a bicycle hurled from a street above the riverbank.

Mr Macron's government began the New Year on the offensive, branding the remaining protesters as agitators seeking to overthrow the government.

Police on Wednesday night arrested one of the movement's prominent figures.

Driving the unrest is anger among workers and the lower-middle class over the squeeze on household incomes and a belief that Mr Macron is deaf to citizens' needs as he enacts reforms seen as favouring the wealthy.

Last month, Mr Macron promised tax cuts for pensioners, wage rises for the poorest workers and the scrapping of planned fuel tax increases to quell the unrest, at a cost to the Treasury of €10 billion (NZ$16.9 billion).

Reuters