Sunday's vote saw centrist Emmanuel Macron leading with 23.75 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of National Front leader Marine Le Pen at 21.53 percent. The result clears the way for a straight two-way fight between the pair in a run-off on May 7, with opinion polls flagging Macron as the favourite.
Here are some of the international reactions to Sunday's vote:
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman hailed Macron's success, tweeting, "Good that @EmmanuelMacron succeeded with his policy for a strong European Union and social market economy. Wishing him all the best for the next two weeks."
Gut, dass @EmmanuelMacron mit seinem Kurs fr eine starke EU + soziale Marktwirtschaft Erfolg hatte. Alles Gute fr die nchsten 2 Wochen.— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) April 23, 2017
European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated the pro-EU Macron and wished him "good luck" in the run-off, Juncker's spokesperson tweeted.
"To see the flags of #France and the EU greet the result of @emmanuelmacron, it's the hope and future of our generation," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini tweeted.
Michel Barnier, the European Commission's chief negotiator on Britain's withdrawal from the EU, hinted at concerns Le Pen could lead France away from the bloc.
"Patriot and European, I will put my trust in Emmanuel Macron on May 7. France must remain European," the Frenchman tweeted.
Patriote et europen, je ferai confiance le 7 mai Emmanuel Macron. La France doit rester europenne !— Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) April 23, 2017
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia "respects" the result, and is "in favour of building good and mutually beneficial relations."
Russia has appeared as a keen backer of Le Pen, who met President Vladimir Putin during a surprise visit to Moscow ahead of the vote.
Former Conservative finance minister George Osborne, recently appointed editor of London's Evening Standard newspaper, hailed a good result for the centre.
Congratulations to my friend @EmmanuelMacron. Proof you can win from the centre. At last, the chance for the leadership that France needs— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) April 23, 2017
Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen expressed cautious optimism that former banker Macron would emerge victorious over Le Pen.
Congratulations @EmmanuelMacron. We should await the final election, but Europe needs an openminded and reformoriented France => Good luck!— Lars Lkke Rasmussen (@larsloekke) April 23, 2017
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, whose country is not a member of the European Union, also tweeted support for Macron.
Geert Wilders, Dutch MP and leader of the anti-Islam anti-immigrant Freedom Party, swung behind Le Pen, welcoming the result as a "bright day for patriots in France and elsewhere who want more national sovereignty and less EU and immigration."
Congratulations sent to Marine Le Pen.— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) April 23, 2017
A day of celebration for all Patriots in Europe.
On to the 2nd round and the Presidency! pic.twitter.com/bpZoKU2xvZ