Mr Le Drian said on LCI television: "The yellow vest demonstration was not protesting in English, as far as I know".
If the number is correct, the protesters were vastly outnumbered by police, with 89,000 gendarmes and riot police deployed across the country, including 8000 in central Paris alone.
Shouts of "Macron, resign" mingled with tear gas as thousands gathered on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue, and thick plumes of black smoke from fires rose high into the sky.
France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had a warning to the protesters that they had created "a monster that was out of control".
"Maybe it's time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes?" he wrote. Most of the Paris demonstrators were working class white men from elsewhere in France, angry at inequalities and economic stagnation.
French riot police repeatedly repelled them with tear gas and water cannon.
Many shops were boarded up to avoid looting and street furniture and construction site materials have been removed to prevent them from being used as projectiles.
The BBC reports that at least 1,000 people have been taken into custody across France.
"It's with an huge sadness that we'll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority", said Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
Named after the fluorescent safety vests that French motorists must carry, the "yellow vest" protests erupted out of nowhere on November 17, when almost 300,000 demonstrators nationwide took to the streets to denounce high living costs and Macron's liberal economic reforms.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe scheduled a Friday night meeting with representatives of the yellow vest movement to try to open a dialogue, said government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.
The "yellow vest" movement was named after the safety jackets French motorists are required to keep in their vehicles, which the protesters wear at demonstrations.
Macron this week gave in to some of the protesters' demands for measures to help the poor and struggling middle classes, including scrapping a planned increase in fuel taxes.
There's not much more Macron can do, however, without cutting French welfare benefits.
An official says that French President Emmanuel Macron plans to bring together national and local officials on Monday to hear their proposals in this "grave moment the nation is traversing".
French high school students take to the streets. Trade unions and far-left parties have lashed out at perceived police brutality. Rampaging groups last weekend threw cobblestones through Paris storefronts and looted valuables in some of the city's richest neighbourhoods.
"The picture that has emerged shows us that Europe has failed in the lessons of democracy, human rights, freedoms", Erdoğan said, adding, "Those who provoke hostility against refugees and Islamophobia have been caught in their own trap".
Six French league soccer matches were cancelled around the country.
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