The Jules Verne, named after the French author of 19th century science fiction classics like "Around the World in Eighty Days," can hold about 16,000 containers or about 180,000 tons of cargo, Radio France Internationale reported. The vessel is more than 1,200 feet long.
The ship is owned by the company CMA CGM.
The launching in Marseille was the first attended by a French president since 1960 when Charles de Gaulle launched the passenger liner France.
The union General Confederation of Labor, usually known by its French acronym CGT, sent Hollande an open letter criticizing him for launching the vessel. The union said huge container ships, lead to fewer jobs, most of them going to people outside France.
The letter said the vessel should not have been "financed by the French taxpayer."