The cover of Le Monde’s Saturday magazine featured a black-and-white photograph of Mr Macron, with an image of “yellow vest” protesters surging towards the Arc de Triomphe.
Horrified readers expressed indignation on social media, pointing out its similarity with a Harper’s Magazine cover in July last year that pictured Hitler, overlaid with a crowd performing the Nazi salute.
Le Monde insisted that it had not intended to portray Mr Macron as being akin to Hitler. The editor-in-chief, Luc Bronner, wrote: “We apologise to those who have been shocked by the graphic designs that obviously do not correspond in any way to the criticism we have received.”
However, many readers expressed stupefaction that he went on to explain that Le Monde’s graphic had been influenced by the work of artists including Lincoln Agnew, without mentioning that it was Mr Agnew who produced the Harper’s Magazine image of Hitler.
“The elements used referred to the graphics of Russian constructivism at the beginning of the 20th century, who used black and red,” Mr Bronner wrote. “The cover is also inspired by the work of other artists, notably that of Lincoln Agnew, who has produced numerous graphic subjects for M [Le Monde’s magazine].”
Not all those who commented on the image on Twitter saw a likeness with Hitler. Some suggested that the comparison was actually with Karl Marx, others said it was reminiscent of Godzilla.