Inspired by Canadian truckers paralysing border traffic with the United States, the demonstrators include anti-Covid vaccination activists and people angry at fast-rising energy prices.

Gendarmerie armoured vehicles have also been deployed in the streets of the capital for the first time since the
Gendarmerie armoured vehicles have also been deployed in the streets of the capital for the first time since the "yellow vest" protests at the end of 2018. (AFP)

French police have said they stopped 500 vehicles that were trying to get into Paris in a 'freedom convoy' protest against Covid-19 restrictions.

The vehicles were intercepted at three entry points into the French capital and more than 150 tickets were handed out, police said on Twitter on Saturday.

Police have mobilised thousands of officers, set up checkpoints and deployed armoured personnel carriers and water cannon trucks in preparation for the protests.

Earlier Paris police headquarters said nearly 7,200 police and gendarmes "are being deployed over the next three days to enforce the ban on vehicle convoys."

Thousands of opponents of Covid-19 rules head to Paris in convoys from across France, intent on entering the city in defiance of a ban by authorities who are determined to prevent any blockade of the capital.

The prefect of the Paris police, Didier Lallement, said they had created a temporary car pound which, together with dozens of tow trucks, "will ... put an end to any blockage".

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed to remain steadfast.

"If they block traffic or if they try to block the capital, we must be very firm about this," he insisted on France 2 television channel on Friday.

READ MORE: Canada truckers' protest grows, fuels similar campaigns abroad

Ban on the gathering

Police estimated 3,300 vehicles were involved in the various convoys by Friday afternoon.

Paris police banned the gathering because of feared "public order disturbances" and said protesters who tried to block roads would face fines or arrest.

The order prohibiting the assembly of convoys was upheld on Friday by the courts, which rejected two appeals.

"It's a betrayal. The basis of the order is not respectful of the law, of the freedom to demonstrate," anti-vaccine and "yellow vest" activist Sophie Tissier said.

Just two months ahead of presidential elections and with the government desperate to avoid violent scenes in the capital, Macron said on Friday he understood the "fatigue" linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Trucker blockade hits key artery in US-Canada auto industry

Source: TRTWorld and agencies