People hold a giant statue depicting the justice during a demonstration in Paris, on December 17, 2019, to protest against French government's plan to overhaul the country's retirement system, as part of a national general strike.
The new pension plan could force millions of people to work beyond the official retirement age of 62 - one of the lowest in Europe - by setting a "pivot age" of 64 that would ensure a full pension.
Brunt of transport strike
Commuters in Paris and other big cities have borne the brunt of the transport stoppages so far. Holiday planners and tourists' travel plans are now at risk, with just one in four TGV trains running on Tuesday.
Strike organisers are hoping for a repeat of 1995 when they forced the government to back down on pension reform after three weeks of metro and rail stoppages just before Christmas.
Several universities have cancelled or postponed year-end exams, and both the Garnier and Bastille Operas in Paris have cancelled dozens of performances, costing millions of euros in lost ticket sales.
Hundreds of rallies
The interior ministry said about 615,000 people took part in more than 100 rallies countrywide, including 76,000 demonstrators in Paris, where the Eiffel Tower was closed due to the protest.
Police said they fired tear gas in Paris after protesters hurled projectiles at them, with 30 people arrested in Paris.
French trade unions failed on Tuesday to achieve the big surge in support they had hoped for in street protests to pressurise President Emmanuel Macron to ditch his pension reform and said there would be no strike-truce during Christmas.