Riot police were deployed as crowds took over the streets in huge numbers.
Strikes were held in a number of cities across France as civil servants, teachers and nurses marched in places like Toulouse, Strasbourg and the capital Paris.
They marched to mark their opposition to the social and economic reforms the President is attempting to introduce which he says will unlock economic growth and put public finances on a more sustainable footing.
Ugly scenes of violence broke out in the French capital, including the smashing of a bank’s windows by marked protestors were met with riot police armed with shields and batons.
It is the first time in a decade that all unions representing more than 5 million public workers have rallied behind a protest call.
Turnout is an important indicator of public appetite for protest against Mr Macron’s social and economic reforms, which the former investment banker says are needed to put public finances on a more sustainable footing.
While unions said some 400,000 people turned out across the country, police estimates across cities appeared substantially lower than the unions.
The interior ministry has yet to communicate a figure, but the economy ministry said some just 14 percent of state civil servants had been on strike and just 9.5 per cent in local administration.
Protests last month against labour law reform that were led by private sector unions failed to persuade Macron to change policy course, but the French labour movement has traditionally been more muscular in the public sector.
“We want to make our voices heard after months and months of attacks against the public sector and its workers,” said Mylene Jacquot, head of the civil servants’ federation at the moderate CFDT, France’s biggest trade union.
“In particular, we want to force the government to make good on its promise regarding our spending power.”
Strike notices were lodged in schools, hospitals, airports and government ministries over plans to axe 120,000 jobs, freeze pay and reduce sick leave compensation.
The civil aviation authority said 30 percent of flights at airports nationwide had been cancelled but there was no disruption on the rail network.
The Ministry of Education said fewer than one in five teachers were on strike.
Mr Macron, 39, has come under fire in recent days from political opponents and the unions for treating workers with contempt after he was recorded describing a group of workers at a struggling factory as “kicking up a bloody mess”.
That misstep came weeks after he called those who resisted reform “slackers”.
As crowds gathered near Paris’s Place de la Republique, protesters held aloft a placard with portraits of Mr Macron, his prime minister and finance minister reading: “The ones kicking up the bloody mess.”
Minor scuffles broke out between protesters and security services.
Unions have been divided over Macron’s reforms so far, with only the Communist Party-rooted CGT spearheading street demonstrations against the loosening of employment laws.
In Lyon, Force Ouvriere union boss Jean-Claude Mailly said he would not support the CGT’s call for the labour law decrees to be scrapped after weeks of negotiations between government and unions. But he said there would be other battles to fight with a united front.
Mr Mailly said: ”There are other issues ahead: unemployment insurance, pension reform, the matter of public services.”