The fury only grew after Macron, who was facing a divided parliament and without the support from the right-wing Republican Party (RTP), instructed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Thursday to invoke article 49.3 to allow the legislation to be passed without the need for a vote.
On Thursday, thousands gathered at Place de la Concorde which faces the National Assembly building. There were also occasional protests that continued into the night. Large plumes de black smoke rose over Gare du Lyon on Friday morning, an important rail station on the eastern end of town.
Protests were also held in numerous cities and towns, including Rennes in West France and Marseilles in South.
According to Gerald Darmanin, the Interior Minister, around 310 people were detained.
Unions announced that the next nationwide strike — the eighth in three months — will be held next Thursday.
The garbage piles littering Paris’ streets are a visible and perceptible sign of the anger of public-sector workers against the pension plans. Paris City Hall estimates that there are approximately 13,000 tonnes of it on Paris’ streets.
Despite the city’s huge tourist industry, tours to major cities continued. However, there were some unwelcome aspects to the experience.
Doris Arseguel guided a small group from Brazil through the narrow streets of the garbage-laden 5th arrondissement. She warned them to be cautious of rats.
Arseguel (53), said that it was difficult to show Paris’ beauty to tourists because of all the trash and barricades. “Paris’ beauty has been completely hidden up.” It’s all too much.
Young people have also enthusiastically supported the anti-reform cause, despite having to work longer hours and being under more financial pressure.
Around 100 students blocked the entrance to the prestigious Lycee Henri-IV school, central Paris, Friday morning, in protest at Macron’s policies. Macron is an illustrious former student.
The 18th-century Pantheon, which houses the remains French philosophers Voltaire & Rousseau, is just a stone’s throw away. Students cheered loudly and clapped, shouting “Macron, you are done!” Your high school is out on the streets!
“I want my voice to be heard, because that’s the only way to show that we don’t like what’s happening.” Emma Mendzesel (16) said that it is important for young people to express their feelings because without a voice, you don’t matter.
Soren Lafarge (16) said that students are making their voices heard, despite not being able to strike or vote in elections.
He stated that he was here to support the movement against pension reform and that he is against a system of democracy that allows you to pass laws without voting.
This week’s civil unrest in the capital was the worst since the yellow vest protests 2018 and 2019. These were triggered mainly by the high cost of gas, but turned into a populist movement against Macron’s technocratic, centrist government.
Macron ended the protests by reducing his carbon tax increase. There is less chance that he will reverse the pension age plan. This was his key manifesto promise prior to his win last Summer.