French President Emmanuel Macron was cheered by local farmers on Saturday during his second presidential agricultural fair. His visit coincided with the 15th straight weekend of protests against his economic reforms.
Already struggling to shake off the tag of "the president of the rich" who had left rural regions behind, the 41-year-old head of state was greeted by cheers during his visit to the country's main agricultural fair, reflecting the recent improvement in his approval ratings.
The farmers cheered, "Bravo!" and "We are with you" as Marcon began his visit of the annual farm meeting, a rite passage for political leaders.
In front of cameras, he appeared relaxed as he toured the stands in the giant exhibition halls at La Porte Versailles, stopping to talk policy with livestock farmers and visitors.
"We have to explain and listen," Macron said.
Dogged by critics for having a monarchical way of governing, France's youngest chief executive in modern history, had been hitting the ground running via a series of debates in rural French cities to defend policy. That seems to be quieting critics and mending social strains ignited by a continued protests of "yellow vests".
An survey from polling company IFOP, released last week, saw the president's public support improving to 34 percent in February, up 6 percentage points from a month earlier.
The pollster also found that more people thought Macron was close to the French concerns and that his economic policy was good, with the scores rising by 7 points and 3 points, respectively.
As Macron seemed to relish the fair, thousands of "yellow vest" protesters marched in Paris and other French cities for the 15th consecutive weekend, demanding he step down.
Like recent weeks, sporadic clashes between demonstrators and police erupted in the capital. Fourteen were detained in the wake of the standoffs, according to Paris police headquarters' figures.
Tension flared further in the western city of Rennes and in Clermont-Ferrand in central France where 16 were arrested.
Named for the high-visibility jackets all motorists in France carry in their cars, the "yellow vest" movement began last November with the aim of denouncing Macron's taxes on fuel. Protesters said the tax would further undermine their purchasing power.
However, over the past weeks, the movement has evolved into a wider social rebellion, with some calling for a "citizens' initiative referendum" to allow people have a stronger say in the future economic and social road map for the eurozone's second main powerhouse.
Although, the social uprising appeared to be waning after Macron offered concessions, it's uncertain if they will be enough. Many determined protesters are still calling for his resignation or an immediate referendum on his presidency.
"Will the movement stop? I don't think so. The "yellow vests" will continue protesting and making pressure on the government at least till March," Eddy Fougier, an expert in social movements told BFMTV news television.