Ile-de-France and eight metropolitan regions – including Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint-Étienne and Toulouse – will face curfews for four weeks, starting Saturday.
During curfew hours, people will not be allowed to eat out or visit friends – but there will be no restrictions on public transportation.
Anyone who is absent during curfew will have to have a good reason, the president said.
Speaking on French television, Macron said the situation was “worrying” but that the country had not yet “lost control” of the pandemic. He said, however, that the country was in a second wave.
Mr Macron went on to say that anyone breaking the curfew rules would be fined € 135 (£ 122).
He also said there shouldn’t be more than six people around the table for family reunions, although exceptions can be made for those who have more than six in their immediate family.
The French government said earlier that a state of public health emergency would begin at midnight on Friday.
In a statement, the government said COVID-19 was a disaster that endangered the health of the population and warranted the adoption of strict measures.
Areas below the maximum alert level have already had to close bars and restaurants operate at restricted hours.
The decision comes as the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in France rose to more than 9,100 for the first time since the end of June.