Several hundred angry protesters booed President Nicolas Sarkozy, forcing him to take refuge in a café protected by riot police as he campaigned yesterday in France's south-west Basque country.
Riot police surrounded the Bar du Palais in Bayonne, where Mr Sarkozy holed up to get away from the protesters – some of them Basque nationalists, others carrying posters of rival Socialist candidate François Hollande.
Inside the café, Mr Sarkozy denounced "the violence of a minority and their unacceptable behaviour".
He remained in the café for about an hour, meeting with residents of Bayonne. Some of the protesters outside threw eggs towards the barrier of riot police guarding the café.
The conservative Mr Sarkozy trails Mr Hollande, the front-runner, in the two-pronged April and May presidential election.
"Here, we're in France, on the territory of the French republic, and the president of the republic will go everywhere," Mr Sarkozy said once inside the café. "And if that doesn't please a minority of troublemakers, too bad for them."