France's President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called for a "sustainable" effort to scale up weapons production following the Russian invasion of Ukraine as he laid a foundation stone for a much-needed gunpowder factory.

"Long term we are looking at a geopolitical, geostrategic shift in which defence industries will play a growing role," he said.

He spoke as visited the site of a future gunpowder factory being built in the southwestern town of Bergerac to respond to a shortage of propellant charges needed to supply artillery shells to Ukraine.

"The effort that is being made here is urgent," he said.

"We must be quick, go hard, mass produce," he said, adding the effort must also be "sustainable".

Eurenco, a leading Europen supplier of gunpowder and explosives, is to open the Bergerac factory in 2025 and produce 1,200 tonnes of propellant per year.

The defence group says it has received orders to last until 2030.

The site had been used to produce powder since 1915 during World War I, but had been dismantled in 2007 for lack of enough orders.

Eurenco CEO Thierry Francou said these had started to increase before the start of the Ukraine war but that the invasion had definitely been "a growth accelerator".

European nations have pumped billions into defence spending and military aid since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Macron in June that year called for a boost to defence budgets in Europe, saying France was on a "war economy" footing.

Paris last year ordered 20 billion euros ($21 billion) worth of military equipment, a third more than previous years.