Further strikes disrupted rail and air transport in France on Thursday but the broader protest over plans to raise the retirement age appeared to be waning a day after parliament adopted pension reform legislation.
Flights in and out of French airports were reduced by 30 to 50 percent due to a one-day stoppage by air traffic controllers, and a rolling strike by rail workers halved some services but caused less disruption than previously to high-speed links, Reuters informs.
The main protest rally of the day was to start in Paris at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), and was expected to draw hundreds of thousands in its own right.
Sarkozy's approval rating is languishing at a new low of 29 percent, but he nevertheless hopes a pension reform victory can help restore his political fortunes in the run-up to re-election in 2012, AFP says.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea