The 180 street demonstrations nationwide were mainly peaceful, but scuffles erupted between police and hooded young protesters on the margins of marches in Paris and the western city of Nantes, where security forces fired teargas and water cannon.
"We're here against the government, which is only helping the rich".
Thursday marks the first day of a three-month wave of industrial action by rail workers, who will strike on two out of every five days between April and June.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has provided the European Union leaders with certain evidence of Russia's involvement in the attempted murder of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, Sputnik International reported.
France's centrist president, who has been in power for almost a year, has so far avoided large strikes and trade union action, managing to easily push through an overhaul of labour laws in the autumn despite limited street marches.
Some commentators have reached into the past to draw parallels with more recent confrontations, particularly to 1995 when weeks of strikes paralysed France and forced the government to abandon pension reforms.
The French government has said it will stand by its plans, while keeping a close eye on the protests. Additionally, around 30 percent of flights from Paris airports have been canceled, mostly on short-haul routes.
"What we need to avoid is that all the grievances fuse together, as was the case in 1995", Reuters quoted a government official as saying.
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And I always had confidence I could get back into the midfield if I got my fitness back and kept it - and I did that. And he is hoping to have a deal agreed before jetting off to Russian Federation . "This is where I wanted to be".
For France's trade unions, it is a moment for them to show that they still wield power despite decades of declining membership numbers and new laws that have clipped their ability to shut down public services.
Macron's approval ratings, 10 months into his term, are comparable to those of former presidents François Hollande (35 percent) and Nicolas Sarkozy (40 percent), according to the poll conducted by BVA, which surveyed 1,053 people on March 21 and 22.
But the first round of their battle against Macron in September and October past year - over changes to labour law - ended in disappointment and saw the ex-investment banker prevail.
Services ground to a halt across the country yesterday.
Unions are furious over plans to scrap jobs-for-life guarantees and generous retirement plans. National train company SNCF says only 40% of high-speed trains and half of regional trains are running.
Public servants want better wages and are protesting against the planned loss of 120,000 jobs by 2022, while employees of SNCF reject a government plan aimed at adapting the company ahead of opening the service to competition.
Pensioners' higher tax bill appears to be frustrating an age group with which he has done well so far.
Statistics from Eurostat, the EU's statistical office, show that trade between China and France a year ago reached more than US$53bn - an increase of 13 percent compared to 2016.