People are carrying flags and balloons with the logos of national trade unions, which urged citizens to take to the streets. Some protesters are also holding banners that read: "Railway Workers on Strike: the Same Macron, the Same Battle", "Social Sector in Danger – Tired, Angry Nurses" and "Killing Education = Enslaving the People".
The banners indicate that the demonstration brings together people from all walks of life – transport and social workers, medics, teachers and airport employees.
In addition, the upcoming Christmas has added to the atmosphere of the protests, with some people wearing Santa hats and a poster saying "Happy Strikes!"
Despite firecrackers being fired from time to time, protests mainly look peaceful. Yet, the peace may be shattered by left-wing activists who take part in the action.
#17decembre2019 #Macron #greve #greve17decembre— Olivier Vilain (@OVilain) December 17, 2019
Les étudiants de Paris et alentours, très nombreux, très motivés, reprennent le chant de solidarité... Avec "leurs preneurs d'otages" à la #ratp et à la #sncf pic.twitter.com/jDefc6AUji
As the procession reached the Bastille Square, where the Opera Bastille is located, employees of the theater came out on the doorsteps to sing the Marseillaise national anthem in support of demonstrators.
Along with Paris, demonstrations are underway in other cities such as Nice, Nantes, Rouen, Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux.
In the French capital, protesters started gathering at the Republic Square well before the start of the procession, which had been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (12:30 GMT). Due to the ongoing strike, public transport in the city remains seriously disrupted, but that did not deter the protesters, who went to the venue on foot or used rental scooters and bicycles.
The protests erupted in France on 5 December, with people protesting against changes to pension laws that could deprive some categories of workers of several privileges and special retirement rules. Specifically, the government is planning to replace a generous pension system with a points-based scheme, a decision that has angered train workers, teachers, police and other public service employees.