President Emmanuel Macron has advanced to the second and final round of French elections and is set to face off against Marine Le Pen on April 24 in his bid for a second term. FRANCE 24 takes a look at some of the emblematic moments of Macron's five years at the Élysée Palace.

May 14, 2017

Transfer of power

Yoan Valat, pool via AP

A week after winning office, Emmanuel Macron is officially inaugurated as the eighth president of France's modern political era, the Fifth Republic, dating back to 1958. Macron is greeted at the Élysée Palace by outgoing president François Hollande for the traditional handover of power.

June 18, 2017

Absolute majority

Christophe Archambault, pool via AP

Macron's fledgling party – La République en Marche, launched a year earlier – obtains an absolute majority of seats in legislative elections for France's lower-house National Assembly. The victory is not as resounding as polls had suggested it might be, however, and nearly 57 percent of registered voters abstain from casting a ballot in the run-off, a historic high.

July 19, 2017

‘I am the boss’

Étienne Laurent, pool via AP

General Pierre de Villiers, the head of France's armed forces, announces his resignation – a move unprecedented in the history of the modern political era. The general had been at odds with the new president over planned cuts to the defence budget.

De Villiers reportedly complained about the budget cuts to a parliamentary committee and in a Facebook post, albeit without naming Macron. Such unusually public criticisms drew a sharp rebuke from Macron: "I am the boss," he told the French weekly “Journal du dimanche”. The resignation marks the first major crisis of Macron's term.

April 14, 2018

Strikes in Syria

François Guillot, pool via AP

Seven days after a chemical attack in Syria ascribed to Bashar al-Assad's regime, France, the United Kingdom and the United States carry out a series of overnight airstrikes that French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly defends as acting to "impede the regime from again making use of chemical weapons".

April 25, 2018

‘There is no planet B’

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

On the third day of his state visit to Washington, Macron outlines his vision of the world in a 50-minute address to Congress in English. During the assertive speech, the French leader discusses Iran, multilateralism, and climate change – notably reminding US lawmakers: "There is no planet B."

July 18, 2018

The Benalla Affair

Christophe Ena, AP

Le Monde publishes revelations that Alexandre Benalla, formerly a top Macron bodyguard working under the authority of the president's chief of staff, was caught on video months earlier assaulting a May Day protester on a street in central Paris. A drumbeat of fresh revelations follows as the affair snowballs, and Macron comes under fire for his leniency and for not taking action sooner against Benalla.

August 28, 2018

Losing Hulot

Philippe Wojazer, pool via AP

Macron’s minister of “ecological transition”, Nicolas Hulot – the former host of a popular TV nature show on TV and an environmental activist – publicly announces his resignation from the cabinet during a radio interview. Hulot's departure is another setback for Macron, who lost a popular figure emblematic of the centrist leader's commitment to environmental issues. The development also shines a harsh spotlight on the gap between Macron's words and his actions on environmental matters as the disgruntled Hulot accuses the administration of caving in to pressure from lobby groups.

November 17, 2018

The Yellow Vests

Damien Meyer, AFP

The Yellow Vest movement bursts onto the scene with its first major protest action when more than 283,000 demonstrators – many wearing fluorescent yellow high-visibility vests – rally across France against a tax hike on fuel.

The third week of Yellow Vest demonstrations sees violent unrest on the Champs-Élysées on December 1 when the Arc de Triomphe is vandalised. As 412 people are taken in for questioning and 378 remanded in custody, Macron says during a speech at a G20 summit in Buenos Aires that "what happened in Paris has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of legitimate anger".

The protests – which morphed into a broader movement against economic hardship, rising inequality and an unresponsive political establishment – would go on to take place in central Paris and other cities almost every Saturday for the next year.

January 15, 2019

Macron launches ‘National Debate’ to quell unrest

Philippe Wojazer, pool via AP

To quell tensions in response to the Yellow Vest demonstrations, Macron launches a "Great National Debate", a series of nationwide public consultations. At an inaugural Town Hall-style event in Normandy, Macron addresses some 100 elected officials.

April 15, 2019

Fire at Notre-Dame

Philippe Wojazer, pool via AP

Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is nearly destroyed by a devastating fire. As firefighters battle to save the 800-year-old monument, Macron heads to the scene of the blaze. He tells the nation he wants to see Notre-Dame rebuilt "even more beautiful than before" and "within five years", ready to re-open to the public in 2024.

December 5, 2019

Strikes against pension reform

Philippe Lopez, AFP

Labour unions launch massive strike action against proposed pension reforms seeking to raise the retirement age from 62 and end some of the country's most generous retirement regimes, including one enjoyed by employees of the SNCF national rail company. Crippling transit strikes persist over 45 days. Macron eventually suspends the reform package owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

March 16, 2020


Damien Meyer, AFP

As the coronavirus spreads across France, Macron announces a series of measures to contain the pandemic. "We are at war," he says in a nationally televised address. The declaration marks the start of a nationwide lockdown that lasts nearly two months. A few days earlier, the president had appealed for national solidarity and called on businesses and hospitals to fight the epidemic by any means necessary, pledging to back them "no matter the cost".

August 6, 2020

Beirut blast

Thibault Camus, pool via AP

Two days after a mammoth explosion at the port of Beirut leaves more than 200 dead, Macron visits the Lebanese capital. "This support is self-evident and vital because it is Lebanon, because it is France. I had to be here to convey this solidarity and this fraternity," Macron says in Beirut as he pledges that France will come to the aid of its former protectorate.

November 17, 2020

Ban on police images sparks protests

Stéphane de Sakutin, AFP

A security bill seeking to criminalise the publication of images of police officers and gendarmes spurs protests across France and serious clashes in Paris. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin says the legislation is perceived as "curbing freedoms" but is in fact meant "to protect those who protect us". The bill, including its highly controversial Article 24, is finally adopted on April 15, 2021. But left-wing lawmakers file challenges to the law with France's Constitutional Council, which ultimately overturns its most contentious elements a month later.

January 20, 2021

Reckoning with France’s past in Algeria

Christian Hartmann, pool via AP

A report commissioned by Macron on France’s colonial past in Algeria and the Algerian war (1954-1962) is released. Under his tenure, France recognises the French army's role in the deaths of prominent dissidents and freedom fighters as well as in the 1962 Isly massacre in Algiers. He also announces compensation for the harkis (Algerians who fought in the war alongside France) and welcomes "pieds-noirs", French settlers who fled Algeria after independence, to the Élysée Palace. But Algiers, staunch in its demand that France officially apologise for the colonial period, does not respond favourably to his efforts.

July 12, 2021

The ‘health pass’ controversy

Jean-François Monier, AFP

As the Covid-19 pandemic drags on, Macron announces that vaccinations will be mandatory for healthcare workers and that a health pass – proof of a recent negative Covid test, recent recovery from the virus or vaccine status – will be needed to access public venues and some transport. "The equation is simple: the more we vaccinate, the less chance we give the virus to spread [and] the more we avoid hospitalisations and mutations," he said. The measures spur months of protests by those opposed to both the vaccine and the health pass, which in January 2022 becomes available only to those who can prove they are fully vaccinated.

January 1, 2022

EU presidency

Ludovic Marin, pool via AP

France begins its turn at the helm of the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union. Macron set the bar high from the start, outlining his desire to make Europe “powerful in the world, fully sovereign, free in its choices and master of its own destiny", calling for “strategic rearmament" as well as "frank and demanding" negotiations with Russia. That mission statement follows on from the European ambitions that Macron has worn on his sleeve since taking office in 2017.

February 17, 2022

Leaving Mali

Ian Langsdon, pool via AP

Pushed out by a junta that seized power in Bamako in a 2020 coup, France’s military withdraws from Mali after a nine-year fight against the Islamists who had seized much of northern Mali and then jihadist groups operating across the Sahel region. "We cannot remain engaged militarily alongside de facto authorities with whom we share neither strategy nor objectives," Macron said, adding that the ruling junta is also using Russian "mercenaries” from the Wagner group.

February 24, 2022

The war in Ukraine

Sputnik, Kremlin pool via AP

Russia launches an offensive against neighbouring Ukraine. In the weeks prior, Macron travelled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said he was open to compromise. After Putin invades Ukraine, the French leader condemns Moscow and announces sanctions along with other Western nations even as he continues to hold telephone conversations with the Russian president. The war helps Macron at home as he – at least initially – benefits from being seen as a statesman responding to a global crisis even as he vies for re-election.