With conservatives bickering, the ruling Socialist Party was expected to get a boost from local elections Sunday, the first major indicator of the party’s strength since it came to power in June.
A strong showing by the Socialists and their leftist allies would likely make it easier for them to continue reforms at the national level.
The vote comes at a promising time for the Socialists. Double-digit unemployment has started to fall - albeit slowly - and the economy is also picking up.
About 38 million voters were eligible to cast ballots Sunday. The election starts a two-week process of choosing officials to run 22 regions in mainland France and four overseas regions as well as about 2,000 cantons, subdivisions drawn up in the 18th century.