An estimated 75,000 demonstrators, majority peaceful, were counted across the country in the afternoon, the interior ministry said.
Dubbed the Yellow Vest movement, the protests have been occurring weekly since November 17 and get their name from the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to keep in their auto in case of emergencies. The violence essentially reached levels unseen in decades in France. Ministers do not rule out restoring the state of emergency imposed after the 2015 terrorist attacks and lifted a year ago.
Officers responded with tear gas after being targeted by protesters hurling rocks and other projectiles on the third weekend of demonstrations which have morphed into a broader rebuke of French President Emmanuel Macron. "They betray the causes that they pretend to serve and which they manipulate", Macron said on Saturday.
Macron, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner planned to hold a Cabinet meeting to determine how to deal with the protesters, who are angry at higher living costs spurred in part by an increased fuel tax. The president visited some of the flashpoint locations on Sunday.
In addition to rising taxes, the demonstrators are furious about Macron's leadership, saying that his government does not care about the problems of ordinary people.
"Mr Macron wrote a book called Revolution".
While police battled protesters at the Arc de Triomphe, the rest of the avenue was largely empty with boarded up shops on what should have been a busy Christmas shopping weekend. Macron has over three years left of his five-year mandate and a strong majority in Parliament, albeit with signs of simmering unease on the backbenches over his response to the protests.
A firefighter looks on as cars are burning during a “yellow vest” protest in Paris France on Dec. 1 2018
Many demonstrators in Paris said they felt the police provoked much of the fighting.
Order appeared to have been restored late in the evening, although small groups were still at odds with police near the Champs Elysees. There were 110 serious injuries, including to more than 20 police officers. Police later fired tear gas in the area. "He was prophetic because it is what he has managed to launch, but not the revolution he sought", Far-left La France Insoumise leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told reporters ahead of a protest in Marseille.
Access to the Champs-Elysee avenue was closed to cars and strictly monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections.
Perhaps the best expression of the anger and frustration in the country could be seen at the Arc de Triomphe, which was defaced with graffiti reading messages including "Macron resign", "Overthrow the bourgeoisie!" and "Yellow Vests will triumph". The shop was looted, works of arts - even a statue of France's most treasured national symbol, Marianne - were destroyed and office telecommunications were put out of action. One protester is in a coma.
Outside Paris, a government building was seriously damaged by fire in Puy-en-Velay, in the south-central department of Haute-Loire.
Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris, thanked law enforcement agencies for confronting the "casseurs" - thugs and rioters - and seeking to ensure the safety of the public, including peaceful demonstrators. "It is unacceptable. Our country faces a major crisis".
Griveaux urged the yellow vest movement to disassociate itself from the radical groups that had instigated the violence, organize itself and come to the negotiating table.
Asked on the BFMTV news station about a police union's call for a state of emergency to be reimposed, he said: "Nothing is taboo for me".