Around 32,000 people had hit the streets nationwide as of 2:00 pm (1300 GMT), the interior ministry said, up from 26,000 last week but still far below the nearly 300,000 when the "yellow vest" protests began two months ago.
There was a marked decline in violence despite dozens of arrests and clashes with police in Paris and other cities.
However, French media reported isolated cases of violence against at journalists
VIDÉO @paris_normandie. Une équipe de journalistes de la chaîne @LCI ciblée par des manifestants à #Rouen. Les deux journalistes étaient accompagnés de deux agents de sécurité, dont l'un a dû être transporté à l'hôpital.???? Suivez notre direct sur les ➡ https://t.co/VeQGgFWrvs pic.twitter.com/VmU9bpLOdIparis_normandie (@paris_normandie) January 12, 2019
The ninth round of "yellow vest" rallies since November began calmly amid a heavy police deployment of some 80,000 officers nationwide, including 5,000 in the capital.
Many sang the "Marseillaise" national anthem, while others shouted "Macron resign!" or "Free Christophe," a reference to the ex-boxer filmed viciously beating two officers during last week's protest.
For the first time organisers of the Paris march deployed teams wearing white arm bands to corral the march that began near the Place de la Bastille.
Clashes at the Arc de Triopmphe
Scores of protesters later clashed with riot police at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, prompting volleys of tear gas and water cannon as security forces prevented them from reaching the heavily fortified Champs-Elysees.
The protesters began to disperse as night fell, however, and police began removing armoured vehicles and trucks in an atmosphere of relative calm.
In Paris, the prosecutor's office said 74 people had been detained for questioning by the afternoon, well above the 35 detained last Saturday, as participation rose to some 8,000 protesters from 3,500 last week.
Dozens were also arrested elsewhere including the central city of Bourges, the site of another major rally aimed at drawing people farther from the capital.
"We want parliament dissolved. Macron has to stop ignoring us and realise how bad things are," said William Lebrethon, a 59-year-old construction worker amid signs saying "Macron resign!" and "France is angry."
A few hundred protesters later burned trash cans amid cat-and-mouse clashes with police in Bourges' historic centre, and skirmishes also broke out in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and other cities.