Opinion polls say nearly half of French voters rate unemployment as the most important issue for the country’s next leader to tackle.
With the jobless rate at nearly 10 percent, candidates from across the political spectrum want to draw support from workers worried about the economy.
Betrand Valour, a butcher from Crepy en Valois, said politicians are only interested in talking to people at election time, not whilst in office.
This small town 60 kilometres from Paris is a reflection of problems that have hit the whole country.
Car parts manufacturer Sodimatex shut its plant there to shift production overseas.
Almost 900 factories have been closed in France in the past four years, with the loss of some 100,000 jobs.
Former Sodimatex employee Adelino Tavares said he is unsure if any of the candidates will get his vote.
He said he wants a president who will bring in a higher mininum wage and “stop companies relocating to lower-cost countries”.
Voters will have a choice of 10 candidates in this Sunday’s first round vote.
Surveys put centre-left candidate Francois Hollande ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
The French president suffered an embarrassment earlier this week when an aide to his centre-right predecessor, Jacques Chirac, said the 79-year-old will vote for Socialist pick Hollande.
A run-off between the top two candidates will be held on May 6th.