Voters in France have begun casting ballots in the first round of the country's presidential election. It will set a course for the next five years in this pillar of the European Union.
Sunday's voting will winnow down a list of 10 candidates from
across the political spectrum to two finalists for the decisive runoff on May 6.
Polls for months have suggested that conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande - a Socialist - are likely to make that cut.
But surprises could await among candidates like far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, Communist-backed firebrand Jean-Luc
Melenchon or centrist Francois Bayrou.
Balloting got under way Saturday in France's embassies and overseas holdings.