Violence erupts in cities across France as in excess of one million protestors take to the streets

Image of French President Macron. Credit: Victor Joly/

Protestors took to the streets of several cities across France to demonstrate against President Macron’s attempt to raise the retirement age.


France is in turmoil this evening, Thursday, January 19, after the eight biggest trade unions called a united front for a massive wave of strikes and protests. More than 200 actions are reported to be taking place in major cities across the country.

France’s Interior Ministry said it had counted 1.12 million demonstrators in France as a whole including 80,000 in Paris. The Hardline CGT union meanwhile claimed that at least 400,000 had turned out in Paris. It also claimed that 40,000 people marched in Lyon, 30,000 in Toulouse, 26,000 in Marseille, 15,000 in Montpellier, and 14,000 in Tours, as reported by

Speaking with Agence France Presse, Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT, told the outlet that ‘over two million’ people had marched across the country today.

The demonstrations are a result of President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement that his government wants to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. One of the unions involved in the protests has allegedly even threatened to cut the electricity to lawmakers and billionaires.

Violence has reportedly flared in several locations in French cities with riot police firing tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds. In Paris, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse and Nantes, train services, flights, schools and businesses are said to have been disrupted.

“We must do that reform. We will do it with respect, in a spirit of dialogue, but also determination and responsibility”, Macron said today during a press conference at a French-Spanish summit in Barcelona.

Demonstrations involving an estimated 30,000 people were also staged in the Catalan capital. Pro-independence protesters took to the streets to show their disapproval of Macron’s meeting with Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez.


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Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]