Macron and rival Le Pen cast votes in French presidential election
Election documents of French presidential candidates such as Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Daniel Karmann/dpa

The two lead contenders in France's presidential election - centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen - have cast their ballots in the first round of voting.

Macron, 44, voted together with his wife, Brigitte, in the northern seaside resort of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, where he was welcomed at the polling station by a crowd of supporters.

Le Pen, 53, cast her vote in Hénin-Beaumont, near Lille.

Polls put her behind Macron, although the gap has tightened in recent weeks.

If, as expected, none of the 12 candidates gets an absolute majority, a run-off between the top two will take place on April 24.