Cars burned in French election protests

The runoff vote is in two weeks, on May 7.

Le Pen campaigned on staunch, hardline immigration stance and she has also advocated for stepping back France's commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

"This defeat is mine and it is for me and me alone to bear it", Fillon, a 63-year-old former conservative prime minister, told a news conference, adding that he would now vote for Macron. "As such, there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right".

Here are some of the main results and reactions following Sunday's first round of voting in France's two-stage presidential election.

Le Pen and Melenchon have raised the prospect of leaving the European Union, but the candidates also hold sharply contrasting views on immigration, economic policy and the country's Muslim population.

Le Pen, of the Nationalist Front, has mercilessly skewered establishment candidates, including sitting Socialist president Francois Hollande.

Macron, 39, traveled to Le Touquet this weekend where he has a holiday home for time off the campaign trail.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was ultimately crushed when voters from right and left rallied around the conservative Jacques Chirac in order to keep out a party whose far-right, anti-immigrant views they considered unpalatably xenophobic.

Early indications from Reuters data showed the euro currency jumping to a four-week high around $1.09 in response to the early projections, from $1.0726.

With a wink at his cheering, flag-waving supporters who yelled "We will win!" in his election day headquarters in Paris, Macron promised to be a president "who protects, who transforms and builds" if elected.

Speaking to supporters in Henin-Beaumont, Le Pen hailed the result: "It is time to free French people from arrogant elites". Every presidential election since 1965 has gone to a second round.

Early voting began Saturday in France's overseas territories.

Miquet-Marty said Macron would "need a more offensive approach, and to distill the message that a Macron presidency would be more peaceful than a Le Pen one".

Fillon had consistently been polling third in surveys leading up to the election.

A Paris police official said no injuries were reported in scuffles between protesters and police at the Place de la Bastille. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

"He represents France's future, a future within Europe", she said.

But he attracted support from left and right with promises to boost the economy and improve security.

Cazeneuve called on the French to support Macron in order "to beat the National Front and its awful programme of regression for France and division among the French".

Nine other candidates were eliminated.

The Belgian public broadcaster RTBF also confirms Emanuel Macron is first with 24%, making reference to several exit polls.

  • Joanne Flowers