French police have intervened to clear demonstrators from a central Paris square where thousands of people have gathered in front of parliament to protest President Emmanuel Macron's pensions reform.

Lines of police with shields and batons drawn advanced towards the Place de la Concorde, while others fired water cannon after a blaze was lit in the middle of the square.

The officers charged and used tear gas to push the protesters back across the square and away from a bridge leading to the National Assembly, which was witnessed by AFP journalists.

Police said they made eight arrests.

Most of the demonstrators have already left the square, dispersing in nearby streets, AFP correspondents saw.

Police fired water cannon after a blaze was lit in the middle of the square

The protests came after the government pushed unpopular pension reforms through parliament.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne used a special procedure to secure the passage of the bill through the National Assembly without a vote.

The move brought shouts and chants from left-wing politicians brandishing placards against the reform.

The decision, using the so-called article 49:3 of the constitution, will ensure the bill raising the retirement age by two years to 64 is adopted after weeks of protests and fractious debate.

But it also shows President Emmanuel Macron and his government failed to garner enough of a majority in parliament.

Ms Borne was greeted by boos as she arrived in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, to announce the special procedure.

Officers charged and used tear gas to push the protesters back across the square

The session was suspended for two minutes after left-wing politicians singing the national anthem prevented Ms Borne from speaking. Some brandished placards reading "No to 64 years".

When the session resumed, Ms Borne took the floor but her speech was largely drowned out by boos and chants from opposition members of parliament and shouts of "resignation", in a rare chaotic scene in the French parliament.

"We cannot gamble on the future of our pensions, this reform is necessary," Ms Borne told members, to explain why she was using the 49:3 procedure.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Ms Borne should resign.

"This last-minute resort to 49:3 is an extraordinary sign of weakness," she said, adding, speaking of Ms Borne: "She must go."

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of the hard-left France Insoumise (France Unbowed) called the move "a spectacular failure".

"This bill has no parliamentary legitimacy, no legitimacy from the street," he said at a protest rally outside parliament.

Demonstrators at Place de la Concorde in Paris

Earlier, trade unions called for further protests and a crowd of thousands gathered spontaneously on the central Place de la Concorde in Paris, on the opposite side of the River Seine from parliament, watched over by riot police.

"Forcing this through by using the 49.3 must lead to a response that is equal to the contempt shown to the people," head of the hard-left CGT union, Philippe Martinez, said. "Protests and strikes must gather pace."

Demonstrators also took to the streets of the northern city of Lille.

The Senate - the upper house - had given its green light to the bill in the morning, as expected, thanks to support from senators from the conservative Les Republicains (LR).

But the afternoon vote in the National Assembly would have been a different matter.

Left-wing politicians hold placards during Prime Minister Elisabeth Born's speech

There, LR members were split on the issue and the government, which needed their support, decided at the last minute to skip a vote.

Resorting to the measure is likely to further enrage unions, protesters and left-wing opposition parties that say the pension overhaul is unfair and unnecessary.

"This government is not worthy of our Fifth Republic, of French democracy. Until the very end, parliament has been ridiculed, humiliated," Fabien Roussel, head of the French Communist Party said.

Socialist Party head Olivier Faure told Reuters earlier today that such a move could unleash "an uncontrollable anger" after weeks of rolling strikes and protests.

Ms Le Pen's National Rally and the left-wing France Insoumise (France Unbowed) said they would request a vote of no confidence in the government.

However, that is unlikely to pass as most conservative politicians would likely not back it.

Protesters in Lille today

Opinion polls show a vast majority of voters oppose the pension reform, as do trade unions, who say there are other ways to balance the accounts, including taxing the wealthy more.

Resorting to the measure is likely to further enrage unions, protesters and left-wing opposition parties who say the pension overhaul is unfair and unnecessary.

Mr Macron and his government say raising the retirement age is necessary to get the pension system out of the red by the end of the decade.

But his failure to get the pension overhaul passed by a majority in parliament is a blow to Mr Macron's abilities to win support from other parties and carry out further reforms.

Paris rubbish collectors to be forced back to work

France will force Paris rubbish collectors to return to work after a days-long strike against the pension reforms that have left many streets in the capital piled with stinking waste.

Police chief Laurent Nunez late yesterday informed Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, who sides with the workers, that the government would use its power to "requisition" striking rubbish collectors, forcing them back to work under threat of prosecution.

Around 7,600 tonnes of rubbish were piled on the streets of Paris, according to city hall figures.

Government backers and the French right have hammered Ms Hidalgo and the strikers with fears they are endangering public health and disappointing the capital's tourists.

Rubbish has been building up on the streets of Paris

Workers walked off the job in protest against President Macron's plans to reform the pension system.

"The demand of Paris rubbish collectors, who don't want to work for two years longer... is fair," Ms Hidalgo said.

"The only answer that could calm the current climate is social dialogue, rather than a test of strength," she added.

Private waste collection company Derichebourg said that it would stop filling in for city collectors after it was threatened with pickets on its depots.

Police this morning cleared a blockade at another private waste firm, Pizzorno Environnement, allowing its trucks to resume collections in the capital's 15th district and from 150 schools across Paris.