President Emmanuel Macron on Monday staunchly defended his widely unpopular pension reform but said he understood the "anger" felt by the French after three months of protests.
His speech was met with yet more, sometimes violent, protests throughout France.
Thousands gathered outside town halls across France, banging saucepans in a bid to drown out the speech.
"He hasn't listened to us for three months. We're doing this to show there's no point in listening to him either," 57-year-old projectionist Benedicte Delgehier said in Paris.
After the speech, hundreds joined spontaneous protests in the capital, setting fire to garbage containers with police firing tear gas canisters to disperse them, AFP correspondents said.
In all, around 2,000 people protested in Paris, local officials said, with the streets of the capital ringing to chants of "Macron resign!"
Police in the city of Lyon reported that protesters lit bins on fire and hurled projectiles at officers before being driven back by tear gas, with similar scenes in other major towns.
Addressing the nation for the first time since signing the reform into law, Macron said he regretted that no consensus had been found on the change.
Opponents from across the board said Macron's speech had only reinforced concerns about how the reform was handled.