Key Advice for Protesting in France

There are key differences in the rights of protesters in France, compared to the UK. However, you should still remember ‘No Comment’.

State of Emergency

The ‘state of emergency’ imposed after the Nov 13th Paris attacks gives the French state sweeping powers to disrupt gatherings and impose curfews and house arrests. Police responses are likely to be more vigorous, and we have heard reports of many custody rights being suspended. Please try and get up to date information from local activists before taking action.

This guidance is summarised from a guide by We encourage you to read their guide for fuller information.

  • Make sure you have the name of a good solicitor. You should not carry a bustcard or write the number on yourself, because (unlike in the UK) this may be seen as planning for an offense. But do remember the solicitor’s name.
  • Police can stop you and demand to see photo ID – a ‘Contrôle d’Identité’, and can detain you if you do not comply.
  • ‘Consciously’ concealing your face during a demonstration “in circumstances which raise fear of attacks on public order” is an offense. People are rarely arrested for this reason alone, but a mask can worsen charges if you are arrested for other reasons.
  • Police have the power to charge to disband unauthorised demonstrations or gatherings. They should normally warn you via loudspeaker beforehand, although do not have to if they deem the gathering to be violent. You can be arrested for failing to disperse.
  • As in the UK, be very careful about filming and photography, in case you inadvertently incriminate people in your footage.

More info:

  1. ‘Contrôles’ – Identity checks
  2. ‘Garde à Vue’ – Custody
  3. Schedule 7 (Being detained for questioning at a UK border)


French Law

GBC has much less experience with French law than with UK law. We encourage you to also liaise with local activists, and consider getting advice from a solicitor.

We are very grateful to as a source for this guide.

Like all of this website, this guide is written by activists with experience of the law, not by lawyers. It is not official legal advice!