"The FN thrives on lies and the anger of our citizens," he said. "Not to hold a debate would have meant to make a moral choice to exclude voters from the sphere of political media."
Wednesday’s debate saw the two contenders trade insults before an audience of 16.5 million, the lowest since 1974, the paper said. Macron was found to have dominated the show in two polls by Elabe and Le Figaro.
Macron, a centrist, accused his challenger of trying to "de-demonize" the FN party that she had led until last month by agreeing a power-sharing pact with more mainstream candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, but doubted it would work out.
The French will go to the polls this Sunday to choose between Macron and Le Pen at the presidential runoff.