The finalists in France’s most turbulent election in decades have hit the campaign trail for the last time, visiting cathedrals at opposite ends of the country before 47 million voters choose their next president on Sunday.
The favourite, Emmanuel Macron, a former banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, was in the south-western town of Rodez, where he shook hands and took selfies before ducking into the 16th-century cathedral.
His rival, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, was booed by a few dozen protesters as she visited the 800-year-old cathedral of Reims, northern France, where 25 French kings were crowned in the Middle Ages.
After being hustled to her car by bodyguards, she complained about her treatment on Twitter. “Monsieur Macron’s supporters act with violence everywhere, even in … a symbolic and sacred place. No dignity,” she said.
Five polls released on Friday and conducted the day after the pair faced off in an acrimonious televised debate showed Macron on track to win between 61.5% and 62%, his best score since winning the first round vote on 23 April.
Pollsters said the gap between the two rivals had widened by as much as three points following Le Pen’s performance, widely criticised for attacking and mocking her opponent rather than engaging with policies.
The election has turned the country’s politics upside down, with neither of the two mainstream centre-right and centre-left movements that have governed France since the second world war making it into Sunday’s final run off.