Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are neck-and-neck in the latest French polls, with the first round of voting set to take place on Sunday April 23.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon has stormed ahead in popularity in recent weeks and now stands just a point behind former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, whose own bid has been hampered by the ‘Penelopegate’ scandal.
After Sunday’s vote, the two leading candidates will progress to the second and final round of voting on Sunday May 7.
Express.co.uk will bring you live updates all weekend with the most up-to-date news, latest French polls, odds and results.
Emmanuel Macron (C) and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (R) vote in the first round of the election
Sunday April 23
4.06pm BST: Former French President and former Head of Les Republicains right wing Party Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, the singer Carla Bruni Sarkozy vote in the first round of the 2017 French Presidential Election.
2:09pm BST:Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux have been pictured voting in the first round of the election at the Town Hall of Le Touquet.
1.22pm BST: Pictures have emerged of current French president Francois Hollande casting his vote in the first round of the momentous elections.
1.16pm BST: Marine Le Pen’s anti-European Union rhetoric and promise to make “forgotten” France great again has made the Donzy in Burgundy a big fanbase for the Front National leader just weeks before the final round of the 2017 French elections.
The French medieval town is a stronghold for the eurosceptic and anti-migration candidate – and it always backs the winning president.
French President Francois Hollande casts his ballot as he votes in the first round
12:19pm BST: Dozens of Femen protestors have been arrested after they stormed the same polling station where Marine Le Pen cast her vote this morning.
The topless women, emblazoned with the slogan "Team Marine" on their bare chest, were protesting against the eurosceptic leader as part of the female activist campaign.
Voters were rushed out of the polling stations after a stolen vehicle was abandoned outside with the engine running while voting was taking place.
10.20am BST: Emmanuel Macron, 39, a centrist ex-banker who set up his party just a year ago, is currently the opinion polls' favourite to win the first round and beat far-right National Front chief Marine Le Pen in the two-person run-off on May 7
9:36am BST: France has gone to the polls in the first round of the bitterly fought presidential elections.
Around 50,000 police officers and some 7,000 soldiers have been deployed across the country to try and prevent any new radical Islamist attack.
05:00am BST: Polls across France are set to open in just over four hours, with the last official opinion polls putting frontrunners Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron almost neck-and-neck.
02:30am BST: An unlikely victory in the first round for anti-EU candidates Marine Le Pen and Jean-luc Melenchon could lead to the value of the euro to plummet, financial analysts have warned.
Marine Le Pen casts her vote in the French elections
Saturday April 22
10.25pm BST: Voting continues for French people in other regions with voters lining up to cast their ballot at the Consulate General of France in Manhattan.
10.10pm BST: With the election result just hours away, International Monetary Fund members have turned their attention to the first round of voting.
Concerns that Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon, both critics of the European Union, could top the field in Sunday's vote added to nervousness over US trade policy at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told a news conference: “There was a clear recognition in the room that we have probably moved from high financial and economic risks to more geopolitical risks.”
Ms Lagarde, a former French finance minister who has warned that a Le Pen presidency could lead to political and economic upheaval, added that a policy shift from "growth momentum to more sharing and inclusive growth" was now needed.
People line up to vote in the French election at the Consulate General of France in Manhattan
9.10pm BST: French unions and activists protested in Paris today calling for social change. Hundreds gathered on the Place de la Bastille and on the Place de la Republique.
During the demonstration, campaigners held a banner reading “Against the ballot box misery, our joy will be nocturnal”.
7.50pm BST: With campaigning over Emmanuel Macron looks extremely relaxed as he and his wife pose for photos.
The En Marche movement founder and his wife Brigitte were photographed taking a walk surrounded by security guards in Le Touquet, northern France on the eve of the election.
7pm BST: France will be voting under tight security with over 50,000 police and other security branches fully mobilised for special election duty.
Le Parisien newspaper said French government security authority the DCSP had circulated a note saying the threat during the elections of a militant attack like the ones that have killed more than 230 people in the past two years in France was a "constant and pregnant" one.
Protesters gather on the Place de la Republique, Paris
Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte are seen taking a walk on the eve of the first round vote
Bodyguards surround Emmanuel Macron on the eve of the election
6pm BST: French overseas territories and French residents in the United States and Canada started voting in the election.
Of nearly 47 million registered French voters, there are fewer than one million residents in far-flung places like French Polynesia in the South Pacific, and Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Martinique in the Caribbean.
They vote early so as not to be influenced by the mainland results, due on Sunday evening.
Voters in the tiny French island of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, south of Canada's Newfoundland in the north Atlantic, were the first to start voting this morning.
In other US cities and in Canada, voting took place at French consular offices.
In Montreal, voters waited for up to three hours in a queue stretching for more than a mile, suggesting a big turnout, French media reported.
Results from ballots cast in the territories and North America will remain sealed until Sunday evening and after polls have closed in mainland France.
A voter casts her ballot in Pointe-Ã -Pitre, on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe
A woman gets ready to vote for the first round in Pointe-Ã -Pitre
4.31pm BST: Macron has laid into Ms Le Pen over her or refusal to be interviewed with the EU flag in the background. The leading candidate implied France was nothing without the European Union.
4:04pm BST: Relatives of French policemen have taken to the streets of France to protest over Thursday’s Paris terror attack just 24 hours before citizens go to the polls in the presidential elections.
Passionate husbands and wives marched near the Champ de Mars to vent their anger over the death of the policeman on the Champs Elysees.
3.47pm BST: A man has been arrested after threatening police with a knife, which sparked panic in the French capital.
Armed police stormed Gare du Nord station after the man threatened officers with a blade.
Paris remains on high alert just one day before France holds the first round of its presidential election.
2.36pm BST: One of the world's leading economists said the European Central Bank (ECB) will not be able to save the euro from a potential run on banks if eurosceptics turn out in force at the French elections.
Joseph Stiglitz warned under-fire ECB chief Mario Draghi will not be able to do “whatever it takes” to correct the currency.
1.02pm BST: Emmanuel Macron’s campaign spokesman has waded into Brtain’s Brexit by saying the UK will not be able to access the single market in any way without allowing “full” freedom of movement and paying contributions to the EU.
A campaign poster for Emmanuel Macron
11.58am BST: Thousands of armed military officers will be deployed across France as the country goes to the polls this weekend for the presidential election.
And anti-terror brigades set up after the 2015 attacks in Paris will be at every polling station as the public turns out en masse in the most controversial election in recent history.
11.26am BST: Front National leader Marine Le Pen has promised voters she will let them decide whether to keep or ditch the failing Euro if she ascends to the presidency.
The eurosceptic leader has long vowed to remove France from the crumbling European currency.
But in the spirit of democracy, she told voters she will not enforce her will on France without the people’s support.
She said: “I never regret telling the truth to the French people, telling them that at the end of this negotiation, they will be the ones who decide by referendum.
10:30am BST: Marine Le Pen’s campaign coordinator has warned of imminent civil war if the country is left “feeble” ahead of the most intense election in decades.
Jean Messiha said the Front National leader is the “only one to call for authority back in the streets of Paris” ahead of the crucial poll on Sunday.
France will head to the polls on Sunday
Friday April 21
9.35pm BST: Donald Trump has backed Marine Le Pen as French voters prepare to go to the polls.
The US President did not offer a formal endorsement for the Front National leader but did express his support.
Donald Trump said he believes Marine Le Pen is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.”
Charles Gave said Marine Le Pen could mirror both the victories of Donald Trump and Brexit.
But the founder of Hong Kong based asset allocation consultancy GaveKal Research says the markets do not want to believe the Front National leader can win in France.
6.35pm BST: Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen seen on 23 per cent of voting intentions in first round of presidential election on Sunday, according to BVA poll.
The poll was carried out online between April 20 and April 21, and includes some people surveyed after last night’s shooting in Paris which saw one policeman killed and two officers injured.
Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon seen in third place on 19.5 per cent, conservative Francois Fillon seen on 19 percent.
Turnout is expected to come in at between 76 and 80 per cent.
5.15pm BST: Marine Le Pen gained some support in the first opinion poll to be held entirely after the Paris attack, but centrist Emmanuel Macron was still seen beating her on Sunday and defeating her in a runoff two weeks later.
In an Odoxa poll for Le Point published today, Mr Macron was seen winning the first round with 24.5 perc ent of the votes, down 0.5 per cent compared to the previous poll.
Ms Le Pen took the second place in the poll with 23 per cent, up 1 point.
Conservative Francois Fillon and Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon were both down 0.5 points to 19 per cent.
Odoxa's Gael Sliman said Mr Macron “now has good chances to come first in the first round and is therefore unlikely to be eliminated”.
Mr Macron was seen defeating Ms Le Pen comfortably in the second round runoff of the election.
French election 2017: Who are the candidates?
Fri, April 21, 2017
Eleven candidates have joined the race for the French presidency, and the campaign is now in its final days ahead of the election on 23 April
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2.15pm BST: Last night’s Paris shoeing has pushed national security to the top of the political agenda with leading candidates clashing over how to keep citizens safe.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen – narrowly trailing frontrunner Emmanuel Macron in opinion polls – said she would take steps to beat "Islamist terrorism" if elected, including introducing tougher immigration and border controls.
Mr Macron, a former economy minister in the government that Ms Le Pen has criticised repeatedly for its security record, said the solutions were not as simple as she suggested.
The centrist candidate, a political novice compared with his opponents, said there "no such thing as zero risk" and anyone who said otherwise was irresponsible.
5.15am BST: The race to become France's next president is getting even tighter ahead of the first round of voting on Sunday, according to the latest Elabe poll.
Emmanuel Macron leads the way with 24 per cent, while the gap between the other three frontrunners is quickly shrinking.
Marine Le Pen is in second with 21.5 per cent, closely followed by Francois Fillon on 20 per cent.
Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon's continues his late surge, polling at 19.5 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Elabe poll suggests Macron would defeat any of the other three leading candidates during the second round run off, receiving 65 per cent of the votes in head-to-heads against both Le Pen and Fillon, and 59 per cent against Melenchon.
3.30am BST: Emmanuel Macron has joined Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen in cancelling his campaign schedule for Friday.
In a statement, the centirst candidate said: "Given the situation and the necessary mobilization of the security forces to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens, I decided to cancel the public gatherings of my last day of campaigning in Rouen and Arras.
"I will speak to the French this Friday at noon."
0.05am BST: Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen have both cancelled their campaign schedules for tomorrow in the wake of the 'terror attack' in Paris on Thursday evening.
Republican candidate Mr Fillon said: "In this current context, there are no grounds to continue campaigning. We must first show our solidarity with the police."
Meanwhile, Ms Le Pen reiterated her plans to curb immigration to combat fears of "Islamist terrorism".
She told French media: "I don't want us to get used to Islamist terrorism. We have to stop being naive.
“We can't leave our children a country that is not able to defend them."
Francois Fillon reacts to the Champs Elysees shooting
Frontrunner Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux
Thursday April 20
10.15pm BST: Following the deadly attack in Paris this evening, the presidential candidates have tweeted their solidarity with the police.
Republican candidate, Francois Fillon, has said: “Tribute to the forces of order who give their lives to protect ours."
Centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, said: “Tonight I want to show my solidarity with our law enforcement agencies.”
Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, has tweeted: “Thoughts and solidarity for our security forces, targeted again.”
Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon said: “Thoughts for the dead and the wounded policemen and their families. Terrorist acts will never go unpunished.”
With days to go until the first round of the election, the attack could sway voters.
The French election 2017 kicks off this weekend
8.05pm BST: A French survey just revealed that Marine Le Pen voters could be more inclined towards kinky sexual acts in the bedroom.
Data from the survey found out that people swinging towards the right on the political spectrum enjoy acts of spanking and dominance, while shying away from feminist culture.
Left-wing supporters were exposed to prefer threesomes and some 37 per cent of them admitted to have hade one already. Only 19 per cent on the right admitted to it.
The research also revealed 75 per cent of those questioned shared the same political views with their partners and 40 per cent of those who voted the same way were “very satisfied”.
6.10pm BST: The first round of the French election will be held on Sunday April 23.
Under France’s two-rounds voting system, voters will likely go to the polls a second time on May 7.
The two-round system requires a candidate to win a clear majority with over 50 per cent of the vote on one candidate.
If no one secures a majority, a run-off vote with the top two candidates is held in two or three weeks time. The winner of the second round then finally takes hold of the presidential seat.
The top two candidates right now, Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macro only hold a predicted 22 and 23 per cent each.
3.00pm BST: Marine Le Pen has the overwhelming support of the armed police force because they believe she is the only candidate who can prevent France being hit by more terror attacks, a new poll has claimed.
A majority (51 per cent) of the gendarmerie, a military wing of the French police force, say they are voting for the Front National leader – more than double the number backing her nearest challenger Emmanuel Macron.
An Ifop poll said just 16.5 per cent of the 100,000 strong police unit are voting for Mr Macron, with scandal-hit Francois Fillon amassing a pitiful 14 per cent of the vote.
Ms Le Pen held her final rally in Marseille last night, where earlier this week two men were arrested on suspicion of plotting a terror attack to coincide with the election.
Marine Le Pen refused to be interviewed in front of an EU flag
She vowed to clamp down on immigration and to make France “more French”.
She called for a “national insurrection, peaceful and democratic … to give France back to its people.”
Earlier, the National Front leader caused a stir when she refused to be interviewed in front of an EU flag.
Things you didn't know about Marine Le Pen
Wed, April 5, 2017
Marine Le Pen is a French politician who is the president of the National Front, a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
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Described as more democratic and republican than her nationalist father, she has led a movement of "de-demonization of the Front National" to detoxify it and soften its image
Ms Le Pen, said she wanted to be president of France, “not the European Commission,” according to reports, and insisted on having only the French flag behind her in the shot.
According to local media, TF1 agreed to remove the flag Tuesday night.
Ms Le Pen is a point behind her main rival Emmanuel Macron in the latest opinion poll from PrésiTrack OpinionWay / ORPI pour Les Echos et Radio Classique.
Former Finance Minister Macron is on 23 per cent, with Ms Le Pen on 22 per cent, Francois Fillon on 20 per cent and Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 19 per cent.