More than 20,000 people showed up Saturday to protest the nearly $800 million Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project, which was approved to begin construction two months ago, Radio France Internationale reported.
However, the demonstration turned violent, with protesters smashing shop windows, trashing a post office, and the local offices of Vinci, the construction contractor.
About 20 protesters and 10 police officers were injured in the incident.
Nantes Mayor Patrick Rimbert said he will sue unidentified protesters, as demonstrators did not follow a planned protest route.
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