AFP - Voters are most likely to pick their mayors based on local issues that affect them directly in areas such as taxation, security or unemployment, in the first nationwide polls since Francois Hollande was elected as president in 2012.
But there is concern that some Socialist party loyalists, disillusioned by the government's track record as unemployment remains sky-high and the economy stagnates, will not turn out to vote.
Corruption scandals that have affected the main opposition UMP party as well as former president Nicolas Sarkozy could also alienate some centre-right voters.
As such, polls suggest around one in four voters are considering casting their votes for the far-right National Front (FN) in what could be a significant election for the anti-immigration, anti-EU party led by Marine Le Pen...
... Le Pen took over the leadership in 2011 and set about broadening the appeal of a party best known for the repeated convictions of her father and party founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, under French laws against holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred.
As well as trying to de-toxify the FN's image, Le Pen has attempted to make it less of a single-issue anti-immigration party by campaigning on unemployment, living costs and crime. Polls and pundits suggest that is prudent, as local elections tend to be decided on such local issues.
Under France's two-round, run-off system, any party that secures 10 percent backing in the first round has the right to present candidates in the second round on March 31.
A strong showing by the FN could see Sarkozy's centre-right UMP eliminated at the first hurdle in some contests, or see the overall right-wing vote divided in three-way run-offs, thereby boosting the Socialists.