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 Opinion polls suggest there will be a strong showing for the far-right National Front (FN).

The centre-right led by former President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to win in most regions at the expense of the governing Socialist Party.

Sunday's first round will be followed by a run-off on 13 December.

French regions have wide powers over local transport, education and economic development.

Has France's National Front changed?

The far-right's charm offensive

The election is also being closely watched after opinion polls suggested the popularity of the anti-immigration, anti-EU National Front had increased since the attacks on 13 November.

FN leader Marine Le Pen is likely to win in the northern region of Nord-Pas-De-Calais-Picardie, while her niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen is a leading contender in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur in the south.

It would be the first time the National Front has captured any of France's regions. The party is hoping a strong performance will boost Ms Marine Le Pen's chances for the 2017 presidential election.

Both Mr Sarkozy's party, The Republicans, and the FN appear to be heading for about 30% of votes, according to opinion polls.

The government's response to the Paris attacks has boosted President Francois Hollande's approval ratings - they have soared more than 30 percentage points to 50%.

However, this surge in personal popularity has so far not translated into greater approval for Mr Hollande's Socialist Party, which is trailing with about 22%.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls made an "appeal to patriotism" on Thursday in an effort to rally the Socialist vote.

Assemblies are being elected in the 13 regions of metropolitan France and in four overseas territories.