Old-guard rallies around newcomer Macron for French runoff

PARIS (AP) -- France's established parties are rallying around the man who helped shut them out of the presidential runoff, maverick centrist Emmanuel Macron -- an alliance of convenience aimed at keeping far-right Marine Le Pen out of the Elysee Palace. Support for Macron also poured in Monday from the seat of the European Union, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jewish and Muslim groups troubled by Le Pen's nationalist vision.

Unconventional Macron faces unprecedented challenge

PARIS (AP) -- French centrist Emmanuel Macron faces an unprecedented challenge in his quest for the French presidency: A newcomer to politics, he was virtually unknown to most of his countrymen just three years ago. Now the tenacious 39-year-old with strong pro-business and pro-European views, and an unconventional love story, is poised to face far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the May 7 presidential runoff.

11 candidates vie for French presidency in high-stakes race

PARIS (AP) -- From far left to far right, young to old, 11 candidates are vying for France's presidency in an election that is being watched as an indicator of populism's global appeal. The traditional contenders are joined -- and often have been overshadowed during the campaign -- by rivals pledging to scrap long-held expectations, such as France's participation in the European Union and NATO.

The Latest: French candidate Macron revels at Paris eatery

PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the first round of France's presidential election (all times local): 12:40 a.m. Emmanuel Macron is celebrating his victory in France's first-round presidential election at a Left Bank eatery frequented by Ernest Hemingway and other artistic dignitaries. The choice to dine in La Rotonde in the Montparnasse neighborhood fits with Macron's literary leanings -- he quotes poets and philosophers in his campaign rallies.

Social media timeout as French election reaches final stage

PARIS (AP) -- The final hours of many electoral campaigns are frantic affairs, dominated by last-minute pitches, late-breaking polls and massive social media campaigns aimed at drumming up turnout. Not so in France. Rules dating back more than half a century impose a 44-hour timeout ahead of the polls' closure Sunday, meaning that politicians, journalists -- and even ordinary citizens -- are supposed to refrain from broadcasting any form of "electoral propaganda.

Melenchon's working-class rhetoric hits home in French vote

PARIS (AP) -- He's been labeled the French Fidel Castro, but his mentor in politics is the late French President Francois Mitterrand. A radical Trotskyist in his youth, he's also served as a minister in a Socialist government. It took Jean-Luc Melenchon a long time to find his own way in politics.

The Latest: Champs-Elysees reopening after gun attack

PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the shootings of two police officers in Paris (all times local): ___ 6:45 a.m. Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard is reopen and picking up its usual early morning routine Friday after a gunman opened fire on police, killing one officer and wounding three people before police shot and killed him. Municipal workers in white hygiene suits washed down the sidewalk where Thursday night's attack took place.

Paris police shot on Champs-Elysees; IS group claims attack

PARIS (AP) -- A gunman opened fire on police on Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard Thursday night, killing one officer and wounding three people before police shot and killed him. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which hit just three days before a tense presidential election. Security already has been a dominant theme in the campaign, and the violence on the sparkling avenue threatened to weigh on voters' decisions.

Topsy-turvy French election still has surprises in store

PARIS (AP) -- A French presidential campaign that's been filled with unprecedented twists and turns still has surprises in store heading into Sunday's first-round vote. With voters in a rebellious mood and many hesitant to the end about their choices, the identities of the two candidates who will progress to a winner-takes-all May 7 runoff remain anyone's guess.

The Latest: Police, protesters clash ahead of Le Pen rally

PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on the French presidential campaign (all times local): 11 p.m. Hundreds of protesters have marched in Marseille against French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, ahead of her final rally in the southern port city. Some ultra-left demonstrators skirmished with police during the Wednesday night protest. Police set off tear gas to disperse them. Gaspard Flamant says he fears Le Pen will win the election's first-round vote.

French presidential hopefuls wrap up campaigns in tight race

PARIS (AP) -- Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen vowed on Wednesday to end the fear of terrorism in France and stamp out the "poison" of Islamic radicals, holding her final rally in the southern port city of Marseille, where police arrested two men a day earlier on suspicion of plotting an attack around this weekend's vote.

France's would-be presidents rally in Paris days before vote

PARIS (AP) -- Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen hammered on themes that pump up supporters, like immigration and national identity, at her Paris rally on Monday as France's unpredictable presidential campaign neared its finish with a grab-bag of potential outcomes. Questions rather than clarity defined France's presidential race a week before the first-round vote to narrow the field of 11 to a May 7 runoff between the top two vote getters.

If the suit fits: French presidential hopefuls hone branding

PARIS (AP) -- Do voters judge a book by its cover? France's presidential candidates certainly think they do, and more than ever are trying to get their political message across through their wardrobes. With unemployment and economic woes topping voter concerns ahead of France's two-round April 23-May 7 presidential vote, candidates have vied for the most on-message branding. Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron wears suits that cost about 350 euros ($370) from a small Parisian retailer.

France election: Far-left Melenchon enjoys late poll surge

PARIS (AP) -- With a bleed-the-rich video game and suggestions of a "Frexit," French far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is rattling financial markets by rising in polls just 11 days before the country's presidential vote. Melenchon's surge is the latest surprise in a roller-coaster campaign that's being closely watched around Europe and has featured a strong dose of anti-establishment populism.

Le Pen criticized for denying French blame in WWII roundup

PARIS (AP) -- Marine Le Pen, a leading contender in France's presidential race, has prompted an outcry by denying that the French state was responsible for the roundup of Jews in World War II. Her remark rolled back more than two decades of policy on France's responsibility in the darkest period of its modern history.

French candidate Macron wins new supporter: former PM Valls

PARIS (AP) -- French centrist presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron has won the backing of former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, a high-profile yet embarrassing supporter for the independent candidate who tries to distance himself from the traditional political parties. Valls said on BFM television Wednesday he will vote for Macron in the two-round presidential vote on April 23 and May 7 "because I think we must take no risk for the Republic".