French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that a deeply unpopular new law raising the retirement age was necessary and should take effect by the end of the year.
He said this in a rare TV interview with French channels, Reuters reports.
"Do you think I like carrying out this reform? No. But there are not a hundred ways to balance the accounts... this reform is necessary," Macron said.
"I don't like this reform, I would like not to do it, but that's why I undertook to do it," Le Figaro quoted Macron as saying.
He also expressed his wish for the reform to take effect by the end of the year, "so that everything falls into place," and in particular, so that 1.8 million pensioners "start to receive an increase of approximately 600 euros per year on average.
Before the government pushed through the pension bill without a vote in parliament, peaceful protests against raising the retirement age by two years to 64 drew huge crowds at rallies organized by trade unions.
But since the government's decision to skip a vote in parliament last week, spontaneous protests, often violent, have been taking place every night in many cities.
Protesters also blocked train stations in the southern cities of Nice and Toulouse on Wednesday.