Far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen is in second
Far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen is in second, according to the polling company IPSOS. The official result is not expected until later on Sunday night.
The top two candidates go through to a second round head-to-head contest on the 7th of May. Eleven people are standing in the contest to replace Francois Hollande.
Polls have consistently shown Mr Macron a long way ahead in a head-to-head contest.
Conservative Francois Fillon appears to have finished third in round one, narrowly ahead of far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Benoit Hamon, the official Socialist candidate, has conceded and called on his supporters to back Mr Macron.
Emmanuel Macron declared defiantly that "The French have expressed their desire for change. We're turning a page in French political history."
Meanwhile, at a rally in the northern town of Henin-Beaumont Marine Le Pen urged supporters to fight on against an "arrogant elite".
She said "This result is historic. It puts on me a huge responsibility to defend the French nation, its unity, its security, its culture, its prosperity and its independence.
"The main thing at stake in this election is the rampant globalisation that is endangering our civilisation."