The French residents chose 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.
"The main thing at stake in this election is the rampant globalization that is endangering our civilization", she added while calling herself "the candidate for the people".
The last Elabe poll predicted that the Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron will receive 24 percent of the votes in round one, followed by 21.8 percent for Marine Le Pen, 19.9 percent for François Fillon, and 19.3 percent for Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
If Ms Le Pen wins, it will further shake up the West's liberal post-war order, already rattled by Britain's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's election to the White House.
Le Pen, in a chest-thumping speech to cheering supporters Sunday night, declared that she embodies "the great alternative" for French voters. "All the democrats in France must now unite, so that he and no nationalist will become president", Schulz said in a tweet.
Political analysts say Macron's apparent win today showed that many French people still believe in a more liberal, open, global society even as populists have won big victories in the past year with the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump's election in the United States. "He will win because he is able to unite people from the right and the left against the threat of the National Front and he proposes real solutions for France's economy".
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At 7 p.m. local time (17:00 GMT) the voting ended as the polling stations across France closed.
Le Pen's niece, young hardliner Marion Marechal-Le Pen, hailed a "historic victory for patriots and nationalists" but reaction at her headquarters was subdued compared with the euphoria at the Macron party.
The election is the first in the history of France's 59-year-old Fifth Republic to take place under a state of emergency.
All polls show the pro-Europe, pro-business moderniser with a 20-point lead in a head-to head contest with Le Pen, who has hardened her anti-immigration and anti-Europe rhetoric over the last week.
Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, who was far behind in Sunday's results, quickly conceded defeat.