French President Emmanuel Macron has announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners, offering concessions after weeks of often violent protests that have challenged his authority.

In his first national address following two weekends of the worst unrest in France in years, Mr Macron sought to restore calm after accusations that his political methods and economic policies were fracturing the country.

"We want a France where one can live in dignity through one's work and on this we have gone too slowly," he said on primetime television.

"I ask the government and parliament to do what is necessary."

In an address to the nation, the 40-year-old former investment banker also struck a more humble tone than usual as he sought to address criticism of his style of leadership.

"I know that I have hurt some of you with my statements," he said.

He stressed, however, that the protests by mostly low-income people in small town or rural France were the result of long-term problems.

"Their distress doesn't date from yesterday. We have ended up getting used to it," he said.

"These are 40 years of malaise that have come to the surface," he added.

The president's address came 48 hours after protesters fought street battles with riot police in Paris, hurling missiles, torching cars and looting shops. More than 1,700 people were arrested.

Mr Macron faces a delicate task: he needs to persuade the middle class and blue-collar workers that he hears their anger over a squeeze on household spending, without being exposed to charges of caving in to street politics.

He said people on the minimum wage would see their salaries increase by €100 a month from 2019 without extra costs to employers.

Pensioners earning less than €2,000 would see recent increases in social security taxes scrapped.

He also said he would stick to his reform agenda and refused to reinstate a wealth tax.

"We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns," Mr Macron said.