- Half a million protesters marched in several cities on Thursday in the largest nationwide strikes in decades
- Disruption comes days after President Macron appeared to be caught mocking Trump at NATO conference
- Some 65 people arrested in Paris as hooded youths lit fires, looted stores and hurled fireworks at officers
- Around 90 per cent of high-speed TGV trains were cancelled and 30 per cent of flights were grounded
- Police in Paris barricaded the presidential palace and deployed 6,000 officers to deal with demonstrators
More than 800,000 demonstrators marched on cities throughout France today, with railway workers, teachers and hospital staff joining the largest strike in decades.
Authorities in Paris barricaded the presidential palace and deployed some 6,000 police as activists, many in yellow vests, gathered for a major march aimed at forcing President Emmanuel Macron to abandon his pension reform plans.
Officers were forced to use tear gas to disperse rioters who set fire to a vehicle and smashed windows as tensions heightened close to the Place de la Republique square.
A construction trailer was overturned and set on fire, sending a huge plume of smoke into the sky, as hooded youths lit fires, looted high-end stores and hurled fireworks at officers, reports said.
The disruption comes a day after President Emmanuel Macron was caught mocking Donald Trump behind his back in a hot mic incident with Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau at the NATO summit in London.
President Trump cut short his trip to London on Wednesday, branding the Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau ‘two-faced’ after he joked about the time Trump had taken during a press conference.
Macron desperately scrambled out of the diplomatic blunder, telling reporters: ‘I am not going to comment on stolen videos. That video wasn’t supposed to be filmed in that room.’