With turnout reportedly lower in early voting than in 2007 the French have trickled to the polls in this presidential first round.
The morose economy, and campaigns that have contained little to stir elector’s passions may account for an apparent lack of enthusiasm.
“Yes, I do want to vote – but I’m not sure it’s with that much enthusiasm. I’m a little bit resigned, because in any case we don’t really have a choice,” said one woman.
The Sarkozy years have been marked by the outgoing president’s low popularity; but people seem lukewarm about the alternative:
“I think most people are not satisfied with the last five years, people want change, especially in terms of job creation,” said Eli, a hotel manager.
French expatriates tend to vote more, and London’s wealthy South Kensington has the highest concentration of French people outside France.
“As you know the vote is secret so I can’t say who I voted for but I can say that I didn’t vote for those who want to increase taxes significantly,” said one young man.
The fate of France is also being decided in far-flung places like Vietnam, by people like Philippe, the sales director of a giant European multinational:
“I hope the new president will be able to give a new direction for the country. I think it is needed now with the crisis everywhere, so I hope that it will bring some new things, bring more hope to the people, I think hope is the key now.”
After this round there are two more weeks of campaigning for the two leading candidates before the May runoff.