Emmanuel Macron called the French nation to unity in his annual New Year's address on Monday.
In an allusion to sidebar riots at the Yellow Vest movement, Macron denounced 'the megaphones of a hateful crowd' who speak 'in the name of' the French people'.
However, Macron did not specifically mention the movement, nor any political party.
Opposition leaders reacted furiously to Macron's speech and tone. Far-left Jean Luc Melenchon of the France Unbowed party tweeted that this was just a 'smokescreen'.
Far-right leader Marine le Pen went further, saying that Macron was an 'impostor'.
An appeal to 'ordinary citizens'
The French state 'can do better' at improving ordinary citizens' lives, Macron said.
He urged the French to 'accept the reality' that increased public spending was not the answer to the country's economic woes.
Macron emphasised it was because of previous generations who overthrew despotism and tyranny that people in France today were able to live a free life.
He reminded his listeners that the country had social benefits that were amongst 'the best in the world', such as subsidised healthcare and free public schooling.
FRANCE 24 speaks on the situation in France ahead of Macron's speech
A call for 'unity' and 'hope'
President Macron spoke out against a general wave of intolerance in France and in Europe, lambasting thoso who attack elected politicians, police, journalists, foreigners and homosexuals.
"This is a denial of what France is", he said.
Macron also criticised fake news and rumours in social media. "There must be no lies or ambiguity", he insisted.
A focus on Europe to forget a tumultous year
The question of Europe's was significantly present in Macron's speech.
In a year where political turmoil has tarnished his presidency, notably with the Benallagate scandal and the continuing Yellow Vest protests, Macron is keen to position himself as a major player in Europe during European elections in May.
Macron's New Year speech was eagerly awaited, being considered by many as a litmus test to his political survival in 2019.