With their sights fixed firmly on the Elysée Palace, jubilant Socialist supporters were quick to celebrate the showing by their candidate Francois Hollande.
It seems his promises of focusing on growth rather than austerity have gone down well in some quarters.
A spokesperson for Francois Hollande said it was one of the best ever left-wing scores.
In Nicolas Sarkozy’s camp, the mood was equally up- beat. Although he did not top the poll, his supporters were clear where they will be able to make gains in the second round run-off.
One area which could prove a rich seam of votes is among the far-right. One supporter said she thought the majority of the National Front voters will go to Nicolas Sarkozy.
Those who have been backing the far-right leader Marine le Pen claimed her performance which produced a strong third place, showed she was no political novice.
But the far right’s moment in the spotlight in this election has come and gone and all eyes now will be on Sarkozy and Hollande.
Our reporter Olivier Peguy in Paris said:
“Socialist activists know that a milestone was reached today but it is not a question of standing back. The next two weeks will be devoted to rallying the left-wing vote. They will also have to convince those who didn’t vote in the first round.”