Paris, April 23 (IANS) Voting began on Sunday across France in the first round of the presidential poll, amid high security following a deadly attack in Paris three days ago.
Socio-liberal Emmanuel Macron, right-wing Marine Le Pen, conservative Francois Fillon and leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon are the leading candidates alongside eight others vying to qualify for the second round on May 7, Efe news reported.
Polling stations in France opened at 8 a.m., although some overseas territories began the voting on Saturday, reports the BBC.
Voting ends at 8 p.m., and exit polls are expected shortly afterwards.
About 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers were deployed across the country to secure polling.
President Francois Hollande is not seeking a second term, and is the first French President in modern history to do so.
Extra security measures were made after Karim Cheurfi, a convicted criminal, on Thursday shot a police officer in the head on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Cheurfi was killed by security forces and a note defending the so-called Islamic State group was found near his body.
France, the world's sixth-largest economy and a key player in Europe, has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.