France is feeling the effects of a one-day national strike called in protest at President Sarkozy's handling of the economy.
The state rail operator SNCF cancelled 40% of high-speed intercity TGV services nationwide and half of other regional trains.
Flights were cancelled, schools were shut and electricity was disrupted as strikers demanded more measures to protect jobs and incomes.
Correspondents say the nationwide strike - the second this year - could see more than a million people stop work.
The strike comes against a backdrop of mounting anger over job losses and factory closures, as France struggles to cope with the impact of the global recession.
Unions and left-wing parties are fired up by a poll showing 78% of French people believe the show of force against the government is justified.