Demonstrations also took place in a number of other French cities, including Grenoble.
 
Job cuts

The protests came ahead of a national demonstration on Thursday to demonstrate against plans to cut about 8,830 teaching jobs this year.

Xavier Darcos, France's education minister, played down the protests and said that the cuts were justified by a drop in the number of pupils going through schools.

The redundancies are part of a wider government plan to replace only one-out-of-two public sector workers retiring between now and 2012 as the government attempts to curb state spending and cut its public deficit.

Student protests prompted the government of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, to dilute university reform plans last year and forced the previous centre-right government to scrap a youth job contract in 2006.