Paris police used teargas and batons to fight crowds who pushed their way onto the landmark Champs-Elysees avenue and toward the presidential palace as part of a huge protest against a draft law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

Hundreds of thousands of people - conservative activists, schoolchildren with their parents, retirees, priests - converged on the capital on Sunday in a last-ditch bid to stop the bill, with many brought in from the French provinces by bus.