But Macron abandoned the proposal in response to the protests - named after fluorescent vests French motorists must keep in cars - and announced extra cash for minimum wage earners in addition to tax cuts for struggling pensioners.
Protesters demonstrate on the Faugbourg Saint-Honore street in Paris on 17 November 2018, during a nationwide popular initiated day of protest called "yellow vest" (Gilets Jaunes in French) movement to protest against high fuel prices which has mushroomed into a widespread protest against stagnant spending power under French President.
Protests so far this month have not witnessed the same level of trouble, although video of a former French boxing champion punching and kicking police in Paris shocked many.
The "Disarm" collective, a local group that campaigns against police violence, has counted 98 cases of serious injuries, including 15 cases of people losing an eye, mostly after being hit by rubber bullets.
Some also carried mock coffins symbolizing the 10 people who have died during the protests, mainly due to accidents when demonstrators blocked roads.
Around 7,000 demonstrators were registered in Paris and 27,000 across France, according to the French Ministry of Interior, while 84,000 people participated in the Yellow Vest protests last week.
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Last week, an estimated a total of 80,000 people took part in protests that were markedly less violent than several previous editions, which ended in clashes with police, the torching of cars and shopfronts being smashed.
The capital and much of France have endured weeks of protests over economic demands by French workers and students that at times descended into violence.
A protester wearing a yellow vest reacts during a demonstration of the "yellow vests" movement in Angers, France, on January 19, 2019.
The grassroots protests started two months ago over fuel taxes but became a broader revolt against economic problems.
The centrist leader is hoping that the launch this week of a "grand national debate" on policy will mark a turning point. He said he is open to discussions but has warned he won't give up on his major reforms, including the touchy issue of changing France's pension system later this year. "We won't decide, the government will decide in the end".