The centrist Macron wants voters to trust him for another five-year term, despite a president plagued by protests and the pandemic in Ukraine. Macron's victory in this election would make him the first French president to win a second term in 20 years.
France is a nuclear-armed country with one of the largest economies in the world. The outcome of France's election could have an impact on the conflict in Ukraine. France has been a key player in diplomatic efforts and support of sanctions against Russia.
Le Pen's support among France's electorate has risen to its highest level in this campaign. Much will depend on Sunday's turnout. At midday participation was 26.1%, slightly more than in the first round vote April 10.
Many people who are expected to vote for Macron do so in order to avoid Le Pen's extreme ideas and anti-democratic ideas, such as her plans to ban the Muslim headscarf from public places or her ties with Russia.
She said, "I am calm," as she cast her vote in Henin-Beaumont's northern town. "I believe in the French." As Macron welcomed crowds to Le Touquet, an English Channel coastal town, Macron took selfies with them.
Both candidates are trying for the 7.7million votes of Jean-Luc Melenchon (leftist candidate), who was defeated in round one on April 10.
Many who voted in the second round for left-wing candidates see the runoff as a difficult choice between a nationalist in Le Pen and a president some feel has veered too far to the right in his first term. It will depend on the decision of left-wing voters: to support Macron or not, and then leave him to fight for himself against Le Pen.
Stephanie David voted west of Paris, in the suburb Le Pecq. She voted for Macron "without much joy." She had voted in round one for the Communist Party candidate.
The transport logistics worker said that it was the best choice. Le Pen was anathema for her. "Even though she tries softening her rhetoric, it's still too much for me."
Recent opinion polls have all pointed to a win for Macron, a 44-year old pro-European Macron. However, the margin of victory over his 53-year-old rival far-righter is wide. A record number of people will vote either blankly or completely, according to polls.
Jean-Pierre Roux, a retired Frenchman, voted against Jean-Marie Le Pen's father in 2002 and again in 2017 to keep him out. Roux couldn't bring himself to vote Macron this time. Roux put an empty envelope into the voting box. He stated that he considered Macron too arrogant to vote again. Le Pen also echoed this sentiment.
He said, "I don't disagree with his ideas, but I can't stand the person."
Le Pen's appeal to the working class, which is facing rising prices due to Russia's war in Ukraine, has been a success. Even Macron admitted that the approach has resonated with the public. If elected France's first female president, she said that lowering the cost of living would be her top priority. She also portrayed herself as the candidate who will help those struggling to make ends meets.
She claims that Macron's presidency has caused the country to be deeply divided. She repeatedly referred to the "yellow vest protest movement" that erupted against Macron's government prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a months-long violent protest against his economic policies, which some believed hurt the poorest.
France's presidential campaign was particularly difficult for voters from immigrant heritages and religious minorities. This is mainly because of Le Pen’s proposed policies against Muslims.
In an effort to attract young voters, Macron also highlighted his climate and environmental achievements in order to appeal to far-left candidates. Melenchon was voted for by many people, especially young people. Many young voters are especially concerned about climate issues.
Macron was a proponent of the slogan "Make the Planet Great Again" in his first five years. However, he gave up on the yellow vest protesters and scrapped a tax increase on fuel prices. Macron said that his next prime minister will be responsible for environmental planning, as France strives to become carbon neutral in 2050.
Le Pen, who was once a climate-change skeptic wanted to end subsidies for renewable energy. She pledged to end windfarms and instead invest in hydro and nuclear energy.