Several French unions called for a national day of action against the government’s austerity package on Tuesday, calling on employees to demonstrate in streets and cripple transportation, especially in Paris.
State railway SNCF said nearly one quarter of the country’s high-speed trains would be either cancelled or delayed.
The strikes also caused express metro system delays in the French capital.
The walkout also affected schools, with many posting notices that canteen services would not be offered.
In Nice, some 500 people demonstrated against the cuts while more rallies are expected to be held in more than 200 towns and cities.
The protests followed the introduction of a cost-cutting package by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government to slash 11 billion euros (USD 15 billion) from next year’s budget.
Paris says the move will reduce the country’s debts and prop up France’s key position in the troubled eurozone, AP reported.
Critics, however, argue that the cuts have unfairly targeted some sectors and workers and that the poor alone should not shoulder the burden of the austerity measures.