France’s President Emmanuel Macron is sticking to the policy of fuel tax hikes that have prompted nationwide protests but calling for “dialogue” to calm tensions.

In his first comments about the protests since more than a quarter million French drivers blocked roads on Saturday, Mr Macron acknowledged that it was “normal” that people are expressing frustration.

He said he was trying to “change habits” by weaning the French off fossil fuels, “which is never simple”.

Belgium France MacronFrance’s President Emmanuel Macron (Yves Herman/AP)

He reiterated promises of subsidies for low-income households to buy cleaner cars or switch to cleaner home heating methods.

Speaking to students during a visit to Belgium, he did not comment on protest violence.

Scattered protests continued on Tuesday on roads across France by drivers who dub themselves the “yellow jackets” for the neon vests they don during roadside emergencies.