Police in France are on the hunt for three men who held up a bank just off Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue.

Staff and customers were tied up for hours while the men ransacked safety deposit boxes.

The armed men entered the Milleis Bank at around 8:30 am (0730 GMT) shortly after it opened, immobilising several people and spraying them with an unidentified liquid.

It’s understood the men rifled through some 30 safe-deposit boxes.

Formerly called Barclays France, the bank boasts high-end clients, and its Champs-Elysees branch is only around 650 metres (710 yards) from the French presidential palace.

The suspects "took a number of hostages amongst employees when the bank opened. They then put up a sign on the door saying the bank was closed," Eddy Sid, a spokesman for the FO police union, told BFM television.

"They then forced open some deposit boxes. Once that was done they left the employees in the bank and they were able to free themselves around lunchtime and call the police," Sid added.

Despite high security in the area, the men got away with the stolen items.

Nobody was injured during the incident, and the value of the stolen items was not immediately known.