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"I believe, as the unions do, that we need a strong rail service, a strong SNCF, and I respect their struggle", Macron said in a French TV interview in mid-April to mark the first anniversary of his arrival to power.

French authorities have deployed 2,000 police officers to the streets of Paris to ensure security during protests on the day when President Emmanuel Macron assumed his presidential office a year ago.

Paris has been hit by mass demonstrations and rallies for a month now, with May Day protests turning violent earlier this week.

He noted that the protest's name, the "Fete a Macron", can have a double meaning in French - either celebrating someone, or trying to do them harm.

Demonstrators carried signs that said: "No to a social coup d'etat" and "Down with the president of the rich". The Ecole Normale Superieurein Paris is facing sit-ins against Mr Macron's shake-up of the education system. French police used water cannons and teargas to stop masked protesters smashing shop windows and throwing petrol bombs on Tuesday evening. However, Macron is a first government official to give controversial remarks.

Protesters gathered in cities across France, including Paris, Toulouse and Bordeaux.

LFI leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said Saturday that many French people wanted to see "deep societal change".

Organizers of the march, the far left party Defiant France, warned troublemakers to stay away.

Mr Macron raised eyebrows on Wednesday with his description of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's wife of 38 years, Lucy, during a Sydney press conference.


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