Anti-pension bill protest in Bordeaux
Protesters run amid clashes as they attend a demonstration on the day the National Assembly debates and votes on two motions of no-confidence against the French government, tabled by centrist group Liot and far-right Rassemblement National party, for its use of article 49. Reuters

King Charles' state visit to France on Sunday has been postponed, the Elysee Palace said, after social unrest over President Emmanuel Macron's changes to the pension system erupted into violence in Paris and cities across France.

The Elysee said a joint decision was taken by the British and French governments after trade unions called for a further day of nationwide strikes and demonstrations during the king's visit.

The postponement will be a major embarrassment to Macron, who had hoped the monarch's visit would mark a symbolic step in the two countries' efforts to turn a page after years of poor relations post-Brexit.

King Charles had been due to travel first to France for three days before moving on to Germany, an itinerary that had been seen as a coup for the French leader who has sought to position himself as Europe's de facto leader.

"The visit will be rescheduled as soon as possible," the Elysee said in a statement.

A Buckingham Palace source said King Charles' visit to Germany will go ahead as planned.

Black-clad anarchists fought street battles with police for several hours in the French capital on Thursday, ransacking a McDonald's restaurant, smashing up bus shelters and setting alight mounds of garbage that have piled up during strikes.

In Bordeaux, at the heart of one of France's best-known wine growing areas and where King Charles had also been expected to visit, protesters set alight the entrance to the city hall.

The upending of plans to host King Charles - which included a lavish banquet at the Palace of Versailles - will only pile further pressure on Macron to find a way out of a crisis that has seen some of France's worst unrest since the 'Yellow Vest' rebellion of 2018/2019.

The violence intensified after Macron's government pushed legislation to raise the retirement age by two years to 64 through parliament without a vote. His government lacks a clear majority.

Weekly cabinet meeting in Paris
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin leaves following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, February 15, 2023. Reuters
Ninth day of national strike and protest in France against the pension reform
People look at the Bordeaux town hall in flames during a demonstration as part of the ninth day of nationwide strikes and protests against the French government's pension reform, in Bordeaux, France, March 23, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Reuters
Britain's King Charles waves as he arrives for a visit to the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London
Britain's King Charles waves as he arrives for a visit to the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, Britain March 23, 2023. Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via REUTERS Reuters