The opening show in a planned tour by controversial comedian Dieudonne has been stopped just before it was due to open.
Around 5,000 people had been hoping to see him start his national tour in a theatre in Nantes.
But the country’s highest administrative court upheld an earlier ban preventing the artist, who is accused of anti-Semitism, take to the stage.
In its ruling the top French court cited the risk to public order if the show was to go on. But for many it was about denying the right to freedom of expression.
“We came here to have a laugh, have some fun. We’re a little disappointed by the decision,” said two fans outside the theatre in Nantes, while another added “Letting him perform is about freedom of expression. I am against censorship. It’s a shocking decision.”
Calls for Interior Minister Manuel Valls to resign filled the air. He had lodged the appeal to have the Nantes show banned and has advised other local authorities they could stop performances.
“The Republic has won tonight and has emerged stronger. The values of our country have been strengthened and that is what we have to take in,” Valls told reporters after the verdict.
The comedian reacted on Facebook appealing to his fans outside the theatre in Nantes to go home, adding he had been denied permission to speak to them.
It is unclear if the 46-year-old – who has seven convictions for anti-Semitic hate speech – can continue with his planned nationwide tour.