A bystander has slapped French President Emmanuel Macron across the face during a trip to southeast France on the second stop of a nationwide tour.
Images on social media and broadcast on the BFM news channel showed Mr Macron approach a barrier to greet a man who, instead of shaking hands, slapped the 43-year-old.
The president's bodyguards quickly intervened and two people were arrested afterwards, local officials said.
French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped across the face while attending a public event in southeast France. Footage shows Mr Macron approach a barrier to greet a man who, instead of shaking hands, slapped the 43-year-old | https://t.co/WxkP7dUS1a pic.twitter.com/BT8KzZfUBn— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 8, 2021
The incident in the village of Tain-l'Hermitage in the Drome region represents a serious security breach and overshadows the start of Mr Macron's tour, which he said was designed to "take the country's pulse".
"Around 1.15pm (12.15pm Irish time), the president got back into his car after visiting a high school and came back out because onlookers were calling out to him," the prefecture said.
"He went to meet them and that's where the incident happened," it added.
President Macron has played down the event, blaming it on "ultra-violent" individuals.
"I am doing fine. We must put this incident, which I think is an isolated event, into perspective," he told the Dauphine Libere newspaper in an interview after the incident.
But he added: "Let's not let isolated events, ultra-violent individuals ... take hold of the public debate: they do not merit it."
"The man who tried to slap the president and another individual are currently being questioned by the gendarmerie," the regional prefecture said in a statement.
Mr Macron is widely expected to seek re-election in next year's presidential elections and polls show him with a narrow lead over far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Around a dozen stops had been planned over the next two months, with the president keen to meet voters in person after more than a year of crisis management linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shortly before being slapped, Mr Macron had been asked to comment on recent remarks from far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who suggested at the weekend that next year's election would be manipulated.
"Democratic life needs calm and respect, from everyone, politicians as well as citizens," the president said.
In July last year, Mr Macron and his wife Brigitte were verbally abused by a group of protesters while taking an impromptu walk through the Tuileries gardens in central Paris.
"Politics can never be violence, verbal aggression, much less physical aggression," Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament after the latest incident.
President Macron has undertaken several other tours since his 2017 electoral triumph over the traditional parties of government on the left and right.
A 2018 trip to mark the centenary of the end of World War I is best remembered for the scenes of furious citizens booing and heckling France's youngest post-war leader.
It took place just as "yellow vest" protests were gathering momentum to denounce the government's policies and the head of state personally for his leadership style, which was criticised as aloof and arrogant.
Mr Macron conducted another tour billed as a listening exercise in 2019 in the aftermath of those protests, which shook the country and saw him promise to change his way of governing.