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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Michael Fitzpatrick

President Macron confronted by angry protesters in eastern France

French President Emmanuel Macron engaged in discussion with a woman opposed to the government's pension reforms. AFP - LUDOVIC MARIN

French President Emmanuel Macron was booed by crowds in eastern France on Wednesday as he embarked on his first trip out of Paris since signing his unpopular pensions reform into law.

The president had been advised to get out and meet voters in an effort to bring months of angry protest over pension reform to an end.

On his arrival in Selestat in the north-eastern Alsace region, some locals chanted slogans including "Macron resign!" and booed and jeered the 45-year-old leader.

One man accused Macron of leading a "corrupt government on a scale we have never seen before", warning "you'll fall soon, you'll see".

Macron told the man his comments were "unfair".

Asked by a journalist how he felt about the booing, the president replied: "I have had it worse.

"There are people who are not happy. Everyone is free to express themselves. But the country has to keep moving."

The president said he intended to continue his travels. "Anger has to be heard and I am not deaf to it," he said. "This anger is being expressed, and I didn't expect anything else, but it won't stop me from continuing to make trips."

'Pots won't get France moving again!'

At an earlier stage of his trip on Wednesday, police pushed back dozens of protesters banging kitchenware ahead of the president's arrival in the village of Muttersholtz.

Pot-bashing, a form of protest with a long history in France, began during Macron's address to the nation on Monday evening after he signed the disputed bill into law over the weekend.

"Pots and pans won't get France moving again," Macron said as he visited a timber mill in the village.

The reality of France "is not just those making noise with pans or grumbling," Macron said.

On Tuesday evening, a private trip by Emmanuel Macron to Saint-Denis, a suburb northeast of Paris, saw 300 demonstrators voice their anger at his pension changes.

The president is due to visit a school in the southern Herault region on Thursday.

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