French President Nicolas Sarkozy hid in a bar when a mob of protesters pelted him with stones and eggs and threatened to beat him up,during his re-election campaign.
Sarkozy,who is a teetotaller had to drink coffee for more than an hour while riot police dispersed the mob.
The 57-year-old President,who is standing for re-election in April,was campaigning in the Basque country,in the Southwest.
If this is the concept of democracy,that the Socialists associate with Basque separatists; if this is it,the country they have in mind,it doesnt make you want to get there, the Daily Express quoted him as telling the reporters inside the bar.
At one stage during the angry scene,Sarkozy,who stands at only 5 feet 5 inches,looked as though he would disappear under the pressing crowd in the city of Bayonne.
The protesters said they wanted to beat him up. They wanted him to resign, an eyewitness said.
He looked very concerned indeed. Sarkozy is used to angry crowds,but this one was very threatening, the source added.
When he emerged from the Bar du Palais after around an hour he appeared to be shaken,describing those who had baited him as hooligans.
Many were Basque separatists who resent having to abide by laws from Paris.
Sarkozy denounced the violence of a minority and their unacceptable behaviour.
Here we are in France,on the territory of the French Republic.
The President of the Republic will go where he likes,and if that doesnt please a minority of troublemakers,too bad for them, he added.
Opinion polls regularly show that Sarkozy is by far the most unpopular head of state in the history of modern France. He is widely expected to lose the upcoming election to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.