French media are prohibited by the law from publishing any preliminary results until the last polling stations are closed. First results from the French Interior Ministry may appear after 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. Paris time (17:00 or 18:00 GMT).
The French residents choose from 11 candidates in the first round, but only two of them will make it to the second round on May 7, which will be held if nobody gets support of more than half of voters.
In order to cast a ballot in France a citizen must be over 18 years old, not legally banned from voting and registered on the electoral list.
The same rules are applied to presidential candidates. They must also show a sense of 'moral dignity', which is a loose term without a clear legal definition. A presidential hopeful must also collect 500 signatures of support from elected representatives.
Anyone who is able to fulfill this criteria becomes eligible to run for the first round. If nobody wins the first round with the absolute majority, the two highest scoring candidates face each other in a runoff.