Clashes took place on the sidelines of a march in the French capital on Sunday, with demonstrators protesting against the policies of recently re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.
Most of the protesters were peaceful, but violence erupted in two places along the route.
Police intervened when a group reported to be “Black Bloc” anarchists attempted to erect a barricade near Place de la Republique in Paris. Windows of local businesses were also reportedly smashed.
There were some 250 large gatherings in cities across the country, including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille.
Macron faces strong resistance to his plans, seen by some left-wing opponents as pro-business. Among his policies is an increase in the retirement age to 65.
The cost of living crisis was also a major theme of the protests – as it was during the election campaign last month.
The French president won a new five-year term after fending off a challenge from far-right populist rival Marine Le Pen in last Sunday’s runoff.
Dozens of police arrests in Istanbul
There were also clashes – and some 160 arrests – in Turkey where footage showed protesters pinned to the ground and dragged from the rally.
The protest took place despite the ban on the event by Istanbul’s governor’s office.
Among the refrains chanted by the crowd were “Vive le 1er mai” and “Work and freedom!
Clashes took place as protesters tried to reach central Taksim Square.
The square is particularly important during Turkish May Day rallies, being the site where snipers opened fire on a march of some 500,000 people in 1977. It remains unclear who was behind the attack, during which 34 people died.
Police arrest protesters in Istanbul, where the governor had banned a rally
Protests over Greece’s cost of living in Sri Lanka
In neighboring Greece, metro trains halted and ships remained moored in ports as workers rallied against soaring food and energy prices.
Police say some 10,000 people marched through central Athens to protest the cost of living.
Greece began to emerge from a decade of financial crisis in 2018, only to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic two years later. Travel and opening restrictions have hit the tourism industry, an important part of the Greek economy, hard.
Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, May Day saw the opposition unite to urge President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down following the country’s worst economic crisis.
Tens of thousands marched in the capital, Colombo, where Rajapaksa has been forced to stay indoors for the past three weeks due to protesters camped outside his residence.
The island nation’s economy has also been hit by the pandemic, as well as tax cuts by the Rajapaksa government.
The country of 22 million people has dwindling cash reserves and struggles to pay for imports of fuel, food and medicine.
rc/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)