Advance and Retreat

JEROME SESSINI for TIME

ON THE BARRICADES: Protesters atop an iconic statue in central Paris

"Ah, to breathe the fine air of France!" As he spoke in mock-heroic tones last week, Sayed Diakite, 19, a student from the southern suburbs of Paris, was smiling gleefully, and weeping at the same time. Like hundreds of other young people boxed in by riot police between the Bon Marché department store and the Hotel Lutetia in the heart of the Left Bank, his eyes were running in reaction to pungent tear gas and smoke from a burning newspaper kiosk. Amid the uproar, Diakite and his fellow students felt a budding sense of empowerment. Up to half a million young...

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