More than 500 people rioted for 12 hours in the centre of Rennes, the capital of Brittany, to protest at the banning of a rave party.
They smashed shop windows, burned dustbins and showered police with paving stones and bottles. Two policemen were hurt and 30 people arrested. Tear gas and water cannon were used to sweep the last of the rioters off the streets just before dawn yesterday.
The party, on the fringe of the Transmusicales rock festival, had been authorised by the mayor of Rennes, who provided a field on the edge of the city. The all-night, open-air dance and music event had been banned on Tuesday by Bernadette Malgorn, the prefect - or senior national government administrator - for Brittany. She complained the likely number of teufeurs, or ravers, was a threat to public safety.
The violence began on Saturday afternoon when youths marched through Rennes chanting "freedom" and "we want a field". Confrontations with riot police turned into running battles. The violence came a month after riots by young people in poor suburbs of French cities. On this occasion, the rioters were mostly middle-class and from universities in Rennes and other parts of France.
The socialist mayor of Rennes, Edmond Hervé, accused the prefect of provoking the violence. "The ban was a mistake and we've suffered the consequences," he said. The field was safe and hosted a rave three years ago, he said.
Mme Malgorn said there was "enormous uncertainty" about the possible numbers of ravers. The organisers had promised 10,000 but the authorities calculated 30,000 might turn up.Reuse content