The yellow vest campaign was launched following fuel tax hikes affecting working people who commute by auto.
The protest began as a grassroots French provincial movement with people donning high-visibility jackets, which by law must be carried by every vehicle in France. Police counted 3,500 protesters in Paris.
As darkness fell, officers dispersed scores of yellow vests gathered on the Champs Elysees.
Dettinger posted a video on YouTube on Sunday in which he said he had supported the "yellow vests" since the beginning and denounced "repression" from the French police.
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A riverboat restaurant moored below the clashes on the Left Bank of the Seine River caught fire.
"Once again extreme violence has attacked the Republic, its guardians, its representatives, its symbols", Macron wrote on Twitter, adding: "Justice will be done".
Some confrontations took place in other cities around France, with tear gas fired in Bordeaux and in Rouen in Normandy.
Rioters in Paris torched motorbikes and set barricades ablaze on the upmarket Boulevard Saint Germain on Saturday, as protests against high living costs and the perceived indifference of President Emmanuel Macron turned violent on the fringes. In Rennes, the capital of Brittany, protesters broke a door to city hall.
No official figures have been issued for the number of protesters who turned out around France or in Paris.
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Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said he had to leave his office after the gate of his ministry's building was forced open by people who stole a forklift truck from the street outside. "Are the authorities who give such orders republicans?"
Griveaux had earlier criticised the yellow vest movement, describing those involved as "agitators" who sought "to overthrow the government".
But it later ballooned into a wider revolt against Macron's pro-market policies and governing style, with 282,000 people joining the first Saturday rally on November 17.
A yellow vest leader, Mr Eric Drouet, was arrested this past week on charges of organising an undeclared demonstration, setting off concerns of a backlash that would re-energise the demonstrations.
Last month, 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 euros ($A16 billion).
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