What happened today in France's presidential race

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French President François Hollande commemorated the World War I battle of Chemin des Dames in northern France and credited Europe with "having protected us against war"

A week before France's presidential election, President Francois Hollande warned the candidates against scapegoating Europe, and self-styled revolutionary Jean-Luc Melenchon tore into scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon.

Here's what happened in the campaign on Sunday:

- Lay off Europe, says Hollande -

Commemorating the World War I battle of Chemin des Dames in northern France, Hollande credited Europe with "having protected us against war".

"Let's preserve it instead of scapegoating it," he said, in remarks aimed at a handful of candidates threatening to pull France out of the eurozone and/or the European Union if elected.

The eurosceptics include far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Melenchon.

- 'No fascists here' -

Around 400 people demonstrated in the multi-ethnic Paris suburb of Aubervilliers against a rally planned by Marine Le Pen Monday in a nearby concert hall.

"No fascists in our neighbourhoods," they shouted.

The rally was called by a group of trade unions and NGOs working with refugees, along with the New Anticapitalist Party. Around 50 demonstrators skirmished with police.

- Fillon under fire -

Melenchon, a Communist-backed firebrand who has come from behind in the late stages of the campaign, drew tens of thousands of supporters chanting "Resistance" at a rally in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

The 65-year-old delivered an ode to freedom and international solidarity peppered with swipes at his rivals, particularly conservative former prime minister Francois Fillon.

Melenchon predicted the French would "give Mr Fillon an electoral dressing down" over revelations that his wife was paid for years for a suspected fake parliamentary job and that Fillon himself accepted gifts of luxury suits.

Macron also had a dig at Fillon, who spent Easter weekend mobilising his Catholic base.

"Being Catholic is about defending the rights of the poor, it's not about fighting to take away people's rights," Macron said during a visit to a Catholic-run charity, referring to Fillon's ties to groups that opposed a 2013 gay marriage law.