Here’s what you need to know about the election campaign, which has featured as many twists and turns as a soap opera, as the round one vote nears.
The rising star
The scene stealer
The supporting cast
Jean-Marie Le Pen: Founder of the Front National and one-time bête noire of French politics, has been relegated to a minor role following his daughter’s takeover of the party.
A recap of the campaign to date
Aged just 39, and with no established political party behind him, Macron and his “En Marche!” (Progress!) movement were initially easy to dismiss: ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls labelled him “populism light.”
But a series of scandals involving the other candidates meant Macron is now center stage, with the keys to the Elysee Palace at his fingertips.
The 63-year-old Republican’s reputation has taken a hammering since allegations surfaced that he paid his wife and children for parliamentary work they did not do.
Fillon has denied all the allegations, and taken aim at the media and his opponents, but that hasn’t stopped him from slipping down the polls.
Now it seems the only obstacle in his way is far-right National Front leader Le Pen.
But Le Pen has her own problems.
An inquiry was opened under a French law banning the distribution of violent images, after Le Pen tweeted images of killings by ISIS militants in December 2015.
Le Pen and Macron are widely tipped to go head-to-head in the second round of voting on May 7, the first round takes place two weeks earlier, on April 23. The two candidates are running neck and neck according to latest polling.
“This is the election which appears to have brought the Fifth Republic to its knees,” she told CNN.
“People have had enough of the left and right over the past 30 years, it didn’t work. They want to throw the table over and Le Pen and Macron are both options for that.
“Both Macron and Le Pen are bringing something new to the table at a time where the French electorate is disgusted with the political elite — and that’s what stands out in this campaign.”