The volatile period of civil unrest in France during May 1968 was punctuated by demonstrations and massive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France. At the height of its fervor, it virtually brought the entire advanced capitalist economy of France to a dramatic halt. The protests reached such a point that political leaders feared civil war or revolution; the national government itself momentarily ceased to function after President Charles de Gaulle secretly left France for a few hours. Although the events sometimes turned violent, they also had artistic and festive aspects with numerous quasi-improvised debates and assemblies, songs, imaginative graffitis, posters and slogans. "May 68" had a resounding impact on French society that would be felt for decades to come. It is considered to this day as a cultural, social and moral turning point in the history of the country.
Source: "May 1968 events in France," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1968_events_in_France, accessed April 2015.