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Debunked: No, this photo does not show Paris 'in full out war' over Covid-19 restrictions

The photo was taken in 2018 when France won the World Cup.

POSTS CIRCULATING ON social media recently have claimed to show a large-scale protest in Paris over Covid-19 restrictions.

All of the posts feature a photograph of crowds on the Champs-Élysées in Paris at night, with what appears to be light and smoke from flares in some places.

Some posts describe the scene as a “revolution”, others state it is “France standing up”, and one describes it as Paris “in full out war”.

The posts were all shared on and around 18 December and claim the photo is recent.

The photo was in fact taken on 15 July, 2018 following France’s World Cup victory. It shows crowds celebrating the win on the streets of Paris. 

News and photo agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has confirmed this photograph was taken by one of its photographers, Ludovis Marin, on 15 July 2018. 

The image can be viewed here on the AFP website. Its caption reads:

This picture taken from the top of the Arch of Triumph (Arc de Triomphe) on July 15, 2018 shows people lighting flares as they celebrate after France won the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match against Croatia, on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris.

Press Association, another international news and photo agency, also has a number of photographs of the Champs-Élysées that night, taken by a different photographer but from the same vantage point:

Source: Aurore Marechal/PA

There have been large protests in Paris in December.

At the start of the month, demonstrators protested against a new security law which would limit the publication of images of on-duty police officers and against police brutality. The French government later agreed to completely rewrite that section of its bill.

Source: Villette Pierrick/Avenir Pictures/ABACA

More recently, hundreds of workers from cultural industries such as theatre and music protested against restrictions that reversed a decision to re-open cinemas, theatres, museums and concert halls.

Source: Linsale Kelly/BePress/ABACA

There have been no protests against the overall Covid-19 restrictions in France on the scale claimed in the posts circulated on social media in recent weeks.

In fact, a recent survey found 71% of French people said they agreed with lockdown measures being in place until the end of the year.

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 


Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

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