Commuters and visiting tourists faced serious disruptions on Thursday as metro workers in Paris went on strike, with a third of lines completely closed and most others working only at peak hours.
"It's very complicated, there's no transport," said commuter Claude Miamo, a receptionist.
She had waited a long time to find a train to get into Paris, only to find her metro line closed.
"I'm going to take an Uber, it's an additional expense but I have no choice, I have to go to work."
The CGT union had called on workers nationwide to walk off the job in a push for higher wages at time of record-high inflation and in protest against planned pension reforms.
But the impact beyond the millions who take the Paris metro every day could be quite limited. Other unions have not joined in after similar calls over the past weeks failed to gather much traction.
There will be minor disruptions to broader train traffic, and teachers may walk off the job in some schools.
But Murielle Guilbert, co-head of Solidaires, another union, told Reuters it did not join the call for a nationwide strike because it "did not feel there was a potential for a massive mobilisation over wages and preferred focusing on specific sectors".
A sector-specific, weeks-long strike called by CGT at TotalEnergies ended with a wage agreement after triggering major shortages at petrol stations.
Thursday's walkout comes in a tense political climate as the French government, which lacks a straight majority in parliament, repeatedly used special constitutional powers to push the 2023 budget bill in parliament without a vote.
Unions are also focused on President Emmanuel Macron's ability to pass a pension reform, which most of them oppose and could trigger mass protests.
"We understand the reasons for these actions, and we rather support them. But they chose the wrong target," said 28-year old Jordan Jean-Pierre, as he was waiting for his train.
"We are experiencing the same problems as them," he said. (Writing by Ingrid Melander and Caroline Pailliez; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Angus MacSwan)