- Polls put Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen in front in the the French presidential election.
- Polling shows the centrist Macron got 23.7% of the vote and the National Front's Le Pen at 21.7%.
- The second round will take place on 7 May.
- One polling institute, Ifop, has put the turnout at a high 81%.
- There have been clashes involving anti Le Pen protesters in central Paris.
There have been protests in Paris leading to three arrests by French police.
The Associated Press said that demonstrators burned cars, danced around bonfires and dodged riot police at the Place de la Bastille.
Protesters have waved red flags and sung "No Marine and No Macron!" although no injuries have been reported.
Supporters greeted Emmanuel Macron as he gave his victory speech for the first round of the French presidential election.
He said: "My dear citizens, you have demonstrated that in our country nothing was fated, you are this image of renewal, you are this face of hope...that I will ensure will win."
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the hard-left veteran, Francois Fillon and Benoit Hamon speak after their defeats in the first round of the French presidential election.
Marine Le Pen has given a speech, telling her supporters: "This is a historic result and now I have the immense responsibility to defend the French nation its unity its security its culture its prosperity and its independence.
"At the same time it can be interpreted as an act of French confidence in the future," she added.
Emmanuel Macron has struck a note of unity as well as patriotism in his appeal to those who supported him.
He told the audience at the Parc des Expositions hall in Paris: "We will reign! Long live the Republic! Long live France!" to resounding cheers, as he finished his address in a very confident performance.
Emmanuel Macron has said that he faces a big challenge to appeal to all French people in the coming weeks.
Amid bursts of applause and cries of "Macron, President!", he said: "Take the risk that is yours to join me as well as the parliamentary majority I will build right from tomorrow.
"My dear citizens, you have demonstrated that in our country nothing was fated, you are this image of renewal, you are this face of hope...that I will ensure will win."
Emmanuel Macron is appealing to the French people of all persuasions to support him in the election in two weeks.
He says he can be a president who can help those who are vulnerable.
"I have heard your hopes expressed for a real alternative...to build a possible future that will strengthen France...I will need your vote, I will need your trust.
"In the two weeks to come I will make sure we will be able to gather as many people as possible."
The supporters of Emmanuel Macron have been chanting the name of his wife Brigitte.
He said: "From now on I will try to reconcile our France in order to win in two weeks and to become president of our country in the near future. Over the past few months I heard certain doubts being expressed...and desire for change.
"This evening I would like to address all French citizens, I know what your expectations are and in two weeks time I hope to become your president".
Emmanuel Macron is getting a rousing reception at his speech in Paris.
"Tonight it is a very serious joy, in your name I will go to the second round of this election and I will be optimistic and express hope for this country and for Europe."
Macron continues his speech, referring to the "deep commitment" of his supporters.
"You have showed us that the hope for this country was not a hope or a dream but a will."
"Tonight my friends I owe tonight to you, please carry on with this commitment up until and beyond the end. Never give up and never forget how you have changed the course of this country".
Emmanuel Macron has addressed his party faithful.
He said: "The French people have expressed themselves...The French people have decided to elect me in the first round and to be at the head of this first round.
"In one year we have changed the face of French political life".
AFP is reporting that Emmanuel Macron would easily win the second round of the election 68% to 32%.
The news comes as his supporters await his address as he is about to take to the stage.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the hard-left veteran, has spoken to his supporters and said that he would respect the result but he has refused to concede defeat until the final results of first-round vote are made official.
There have been protests in central Paris against the success of Marine Le Pen's party.
Police have fired tear gas on the Place de la Bastille in eastern Paris with both anarchist and anti-fascist groups gathering to protest at the Front National anti-immigrant policies.
Marine Le Pen has taken to the stage where her supporters are in Henin-Beaumont.
She has told the National Front party faithful: "This is a historic result and now I have the immense responsibility to defend the French nation its unity its security its culture its prosperity and its independence.
"At the same time it can be interpreted as an act of French confidence in the future."
"The French must seize this historic moment because what is at stake is wild globalisation that endangers civilisation".
If Macron were to win the run-off on 7 May, he would become the youngest president of the Republic of France for more than 165 years.
AFP has pointed out that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was 40 when he became the country's head of state back in 1848.
There are a number of other intriguing statistics that mark this election out from others in the country's history.
It is the first time in modern history that no one from the mainstream centre-right or centre-left parties has made it to the second round.
In addition, Francois Hollande is the first sitting president not to seek re-election.
One-time favourite Francois Fillon has conceded defeat and called on people to vote for Macron.
He threw his support behind Macron, which is a reminder of how far Fillon's star has fallen in the last few weeks.
He started the race as the favourite but revelations of fake jobs scandal involving his wife and family tainted his candidature. This video shows just how how many people in France felt about the former front runner.
French political commentator Agnes Poirier has told Sky News that the demise of the socialists in France is hugely significant.
"What is extraordinary is the collapse of the French left and the French right. This is the end of French socialism as we have known it," she said.
Here is the full list of results, which are still to be confirmed of course, according to estimates by Ipsos for France television.
Emmanuel Macron: 23.7%
Marine Le Pen: 21.7%
François Fillon: 19.5%
Jean-Luc Mélenchon: 19.5 %
Benoît Hamon: 6.2%
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan: 5%
Jean Lassalle: 1.5%
Philippe Poutou: 1.2%
François Asselineau: 0.8%
Nathalie Arthaud: 0.7%
Jacques Cheminade: 0.2%
The success of Emmanuel Macron marks a remarkable rise of the man who not so long ago, was little known to the French people.
The 39-year-old has made headlines for being the face of the opposition to the far-right, as well as his marriage to his former teacher who is 24 years his senior.
We profile the wife Briggitte of the man who is getting closer to the French presidency.
Supporters of the National Front Marine Le Pen celebrate the success of their candidate, after seeing off a challenge from centre-right François Fillon and the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve has called on all Democrats to vote for Emmanuel Macron.
Macron has said, according to the AFP news agency: "A new page in French politics is being turned." Meanwhile, the defeated Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon has given a sombre assessment of his fortunes, in saying: "This is a moral defeat for the left".
French Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon has conceded defeat.
The figures are not official yet, but a big cheer has gone up in the Le Pen camp after early indications put her at getting 21.7% of the vote. Macron, meanwhile has scored 23.7% of the vote.
Polling agency projections put centrist Macron and the far-right leader Le Pen ahead in first-round French presidential vote, to go to the second round in two weeks time, the Associated Press has reported.
The polls have closed only two minutes go.
The candidates are all standing by, awaiting the results.
Marine Le Pen is in Hénin-Baumont, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the 10th arrondissement of Paris, François Fillon in his campaign HQ in the 15th arrondissement, and Socialist Benoît Hamon at the La Mutalité conference centre.
Meanwhile, in the era of fake news, the French interior ministry has issued a warning about fake results being disseminated ahead of time.
The polling so far seems to put Emmanuel Macron in first place.
However the other candidates including far-right Marine Le Pen, Conservative Francois Fillon and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon were "neck and neck".
The election is considered one which could dramatically shift the political landscape in France and even the future of Europe.
Britain's momentous decision to leave the EU last year apparently prompted more French citizens than usual to come out on election day.
The number of French expats in the UK registered to vote reportedly increased by 10% in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Marine Le Pen is never too far from controversy, no more so than on polling day when she cast her vote.
The ballot box she went to Hénin-Beaumont, northern France was the scene of protests from group Femen.
Police tried to control the dozens of demonstrators who had "Team Marine" daubed across their bare chests. The women wore masks of Le Pen, US President Donald Trump and Russian president Putin.
The country is on high alert with thousands of law enforcement officers on the streets amid concerns of a terror attack.
Last week's terror attack in Paris in which a police officer was killed on the Champs- Elysees is high on the minds of the security services and the people of France who have been victims to a number of terror attacks in recent years.
The French election is one that has been highly anticipated and has consequences that will be felt across Europe.
IBTimes UK has put together a fascinating in-depth multi-media section.
In it, we look at the background, the runners and riders and some of the tricky political questions that are being asked of the main candidates.
Early statistics show that the French election has had its biggest turnout for four decades.
By 6pm local time (5pm BST), turnout was at nearly 70%, and by the time the polls close, it is expected to be much higher.
Early indications suggest that around 37 million people have turned out to vote.
There were fears given the huge numbers of undecided voters that many could stay away.
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