Around 80 demonstrations were scheduled to be held nationwide on Saturday, from the northern city of Lille to Marseille, in the south of France.
The protests came a week after the United Nations published a report calling for urgent global action to avoid a climate catastrophe.
In Paris, an estimated 14,500 people marched from the central Opéra district to the historic Place de la République, according to the Occurrence research institute. The Paris police put the number much higher at 18,500, while organisers said that 50,000 people had turned out.
Demonstrators waved colourful banners that read, “Change the system,
” and “#ThereIsStillTime”.
An estimated 10,000 people took to the streets in eastern city of Lyon, while between 2,000 to 3,500 marched in southwestern Bordeaux. In Lille, the protest drew “more than 3,000”, according to police.
“The public outrage is justified because so many warnings are being neglected by governments around the world,” Rajendra Shende, chairman of the environmental organisation TERRE, told RFI's sister channel, FRANCE 24.
The last major climate change protest in France – which drew an estimated 115,000 people nationwide, according to organisers – was held on September 8, a little more than a week after the country’s former environment minister Nicolas Hulot resigned from office, disappointed over the lack of progress on climate change and other issues.
Hulot was succeeded by François de Rugy, who hailed Saturday’s turnout as a “call to action”.
“I applaud those who marched for the climate this afternoon across France. Everyone’s mobilisation is a call to action!” he tweeted.
(with AFP, REUTERS)