French police fired tear gas at masked demonstrators in Lyon and Nantes on Saturday as heavy rain kept the number of yellow vest demonstrators down in Paris.
Saturday marked the 26th straight weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron and his economic reform agenda.
Police estimated 18,600 people took to the streets around France, including 1,200 in the capital,
Organisers had been hoping to regain momentum following a record low turnout last weekend.
The government says fewer than 19,000 people turned out last Saturday - although organisers said this was because of May Day demonstrations a few days earlier.
In a bid to widen the protests, demonstrations were organised in the regional cities of Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse.
In Nantes, black-hooded demonstrators on the fringes of a largely peaceful protest hurled bottles and smashed shop windows, while in Lyon tear gas swirled as police tried to funnel protesters away from the central Place Bellecour.
Saturday's apparently low turnout nationwide will be a relief to Macron, little more than two weeks out from European elections.
Protester numbers have dwindled from highs of over 300,000 nationwide at the peak in November to below 30,000 in recent weeks, according to government estimates.