Thousands protest against Macron in Paris and Toulouse

French Workers Rally

Thousands protest against Macron in Paris and Toulouse

Australia's prime minister has said his wife was "flattered and charmed" to be described by French President Emmanuel Macron as "delicious".

Paris police are deploying in large numbers and activists are calling for calm as the French capital prepares for a mass protest on the anniversary of President Emmanuel Macron's inauguration.

It was a generally peaceful march through the centre of Paris.

There were a few isolated scuffles at the march and at least four people had been arrested, while one policeman was injured, the police prefect's office said.

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They also want assurances that their benefits remain untouched if private operators takes over part of the railways when the European passenger rail market is opened up to competition starting in 2020.

A protester holds a sign reading "Brigitte do just like us, get a divorce".

Benjamin Griveaux, a government spokesman, expressed fears on Friday that the demonstration could turn violent. He noted that the protest's name, "fête à Macron", can have a double meaning in French - either celebrating someone, or trying to do them harm. President Macron charmed Australia.

"People have the right to challenge him", said Ruffin, a journalist whose documentary "Merci Patron", about a poor couple who take on France's richest man, captured an angry zeitgeist and filled cinemas in 2015.

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Yet despite simmering protest movements, on the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 student riots that brought France to its knees, unions have lost clout and the mood is far from revolutionary.

Opinion polls show a majority of French people support the SNCF reform plan and the scale of response to a web-based petition for funds has surprised those who launched it.

As the weeks go by, more and more workers are drifting back to work.

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