A gang armed with axes and guns stormed the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Paris in a dramatic heist that targeted around €4m (£3.5m) worth of jewellery, it has been reported.

Visitors to the five-star hotel were left stunned by the raid which took place at around 6.30pm on Wednesday (10 January).

It is believed that up to five men smashed windows during the raid at the famous Parisian hotel located on Place Vendôme.

Local radio station RTL said three of the raiders were arrested at the scene, while two escaped on mopeds.

It is thought that the thieves targeted jewellery estimated to be worth more than €4m (£3.5m) and it is not clear if any of the haul was recovered.

Eyewitnesses said the gang were wearing ski masks and opened fire when they entered the famous hotel, located in the 1st arrondissement.

An eye-witness told Mirror Online that a bartender rushed guests into the kitchen to hide from the attackers who were smashing display cases filled with high-value items in a jewellery store inside the hotel.

The tourist said that a member of hotel staff was shot in the leg in the robbery.

"Immediately the bartender closed and locked the door and corralled everyone to the back kitchen area of the bar," the woman said.

"We heard at least 10 rounds of gunfire so everyone dove behind the bar where we stayed there for about six minutes.

"They were after the jewellery on display at the hotel. I know the bar across from ours was shot through because I saw the door window and it was shattered."

A police source told the Paris-based Le Figaro that the suspects were armed with an axe and two handguns.

A major police operation is now underway in the French capital with a heavy police presence in the area around the hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton is known as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world and was the place where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed dined on 31 August 1997, shortly before they died in a car crash.