Braving driving rain and shouting slogans including “state of emergency—police state” the marchers protested loudly against a measure they see as curbing human rights.
Police put participation at 5,000 while organisers said some 20,000 people took part.
Several other cities including Toulouse in the south held smaller-scale marches organised by unions, human rights organisations and other pressure groups.
A further gripe is a government plan to strip convicted French-born terrorists of their citizenship if they have a second nationality.
That proposal has already triggered the resignation of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira who stood down in protest over the plan this week after the reforms were presented to parliament.
Parliament is due in the coming days to debate the state of emergency as President Francois Hollande seeks parliamentary approval to extend the current three-month measure, which expires on February 26.
The Senate is to vote on the proposal on February 9, followed by a vote in the National Assembly on February 16.