The streets of Paris and eight other French cities were deserted on Saturday night on the first day of the government-imposed 9pm curfew.

The measure was announced this week by French President Emmanuel Macron to curb the resurgent coronavirus, as new daily infections peaked last week at more than 30,000.

Place de la Concorde in Paris is empty during curfew
An empty Place de la Concorde in Paris during curfew (Lewis Joly/AP)

Mr Macron said the curfews, due to last at least four weeks, were needed to stop hospitals from becoming overrun.

Many restaurant owners are up in arms about the move that is forcing them to close early, something they say will devastate the industry.

In France, nearly 20 million people are covered by the curfew and eerily deserted scenes were observed in Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse as well.

A homeless woman in the empty centre of Lyon
A homeless woman in the deserted centre of Lyon (Laurent Cipriani/AP)

The curfew runs until 6am daily.

France has seen more than 33,300 confirmed deaths in the pandemic, the fourth-highest death toll in Europe.