The ongoing serious rioting and destruction of property in many French cities has prompted the UK Foreign Office to warn travellers to France to avoid certain hotspots.

“Since 27 June, protests have taken place in Paris and other locations across France.” In a rather British understatement, the warning adds: “Some have turned violent. The protests may lead to disruptions to road travel or targeting of parked cars in areas where protests take place. You should monitor the media, avoid protests, check the latest advice with operators when travelling and follow the advice of the authorities.”

The Foreign Office website adds: “If demonstrations do turn violent, a heavy police/gendarmerie presence is to be expected. Avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities.”

The riots started immediately after a police officer shot a 17 year-old individual of North African origin in Nanterre on Tuesday following a traffic stop after he had repeatedly committed a string of traffic offences.

Unrest has been centred so far on neighbourhoods with a high proportion of immigrants, many of them from the second or third generations. Looting has also been reported.

The worst rioting has been in Parisian neighbourhoods, where on Friday 20 million euros was unblocked to pay for criminal damage caused by the rioters. Close to 1,000 people were detained by the police overnight from Thursday to Friday.

The French authorities are expecting the rioting to continue into the weekend and even escalate. It may be thought necessary to declare a state of emergency and bring in the army to wrest back control of the worst-hit areas and to protect the commercial centre of the capital.

President Macron has formed a special commission to keep track of the situation and on Friday called for parents to intervene. Most of the rioters are aged between 14 and 18 and use social media apps to cooperate.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has stepped in with an admonishment to the French authorities for what it calls institutionalised racism among the police force.

France is the most visited country in the world and relies significantly on tourism.

In the south of the country, so far most violence has been centred on Marseille with only limited trouble in Nice. Fifty-six rioters were due to appear in court in Marseille on Friday afternoon.

Firefighters extinguish fire from a car, burnt during night clashes between protesters and police, following the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old teenager shot by a police officer in Nanterre during a traffic stop, at the Alma district in Roubaix, northern France, June 30, 2023. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol