Emmanuel Macron hopes a change of scenery could calm angry French election race

By Mr Macron’s side was Jean Castex, his prime minister, and Huguette Tiegna, a local MP who is black and has received four death threats in recent months from “extremists”.

French politics has become increasingly polarised in recent years. In an interview on Friday morning, Mr Macron conceded that he had not been able to keep such anger in check during his mandate.

“She [Ms Le Pen] has managed to draw on some of what we did not manage to do. On some of the things, I did not manage to do to pacify some of the anger,” he said.

Ms Le Pen, whose policies include a ban on Muslim headscarves in public, giving French nationals priority on jobs and benefits, and limiting Europe’s rules on cross-border travel, said that Mr Macron embodies an elitism that has failed ordinary people.

Sunday was, she said, a referendum between “Macron and France”.

Brexit still on the minds of the French

At Figeac’s Art & Maisons estate agent, the talk was more of the exodus of British homeowners.

Laurence Duffour, the owner of Art & Maisons, said: “Many left when the pound slipped to the euro and Brexit accelerated the trend. Some have stayed on regardless. But now for some reason, we’re invaded by Belgians.”

Popping in, Edwige Boyer, a 63-year-old Macron municipal councillor in nearby Cajarc, said that she was not reassured about Sunday’s run-off: “I never thought we’d end up with the far-Right so high. I think Macron will win, but it will be much closer than people think and I fear abstention.”

At the Champollion bookshop in the main square, the owner, who declined to be named, said that she had voted for Mr Melenchon in round one and would begrudgingly vote for Mr Macron in the run-off.

“I’m not voting with my heart, but I’m too scared of a fascist regime not to vote,” she said.

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