Here's a side of Paris that might make you a little uncomfortable. Nevertheless, demonstrations and protests are a fact of life in France, and especially in Paris. There were big demonstrations (manifestations in French) on several days when we spent our week in the city in April 2006. I was out there with my camera documenting it all. It never felt dangerous. There had been violent demonstrations — riots — in 2005, but in 2006 things mostly stayed peaceful.
The French government had proposed a law that young people thought would discriminate against them. Student associations and labor unions organized and got permission to stage big manifestations of their disapproval. They demanded that the proposal be withdrawn (le retrait du projet de loi), not tinkered with and amended. They wanted nothing short of le retrait — un point c'est tout ("period"). The CGT is a big labor union that is associated with the French communist party. The protesters feared précarité, meaning a lack of job security, under the proposed reform. Here, you can read what I wrote at the time about the government proposal and the public's reaction to it.