Emmanuel Macron will be hoping that this week’s freezing winter weather comes to his aid as a day of protest on Thursday by France’s powerful trade union movement in response to moves to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 gets underway.

Millions of public sector workers, led by railway staff, teachers and air-traffic controllers, are expected to walk out, backed by millions more employed in the energy, health and civil service sectors. Most trains and flights have been cancelled and those who can are being urged to work from home.