What happened today in France's presidential race

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French presidential candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party Marine Le Pen ratcheted up her rhetoric on immigration, Islam and France's colonial past

With four days before voting begins in France's presidential election, far-right leader Marine Le Pen hardened her tone and scandal-scarred conservative Francois Fillon tangled with the media.

Here's what happened in the campaign on Wednesday:

- Tough talk -

Le Pen, 48, has spent years trying to broaden support for her National Front but in the past few days has ratcheted up her rhetoric on immigration, Islam and France's colonial past.

In an interview with BFMTV news channel, Le Pen said colonisation had done "a great deal" for Algeria, which achieved independence in 1962 after eight years of war.

"I think... that colonisation contributed a great deal... to Algeria: hospitals, roads, schools. Even Algerians who are being sincere admit it," Le Pen said.

Her last major rally took her to Marseille, a day after the arrests in the southern city of two Frenchmen who were allegedly plotting an attack to disrupt the election.

A large cache of weapons was found in the suspects' apartment.

Security was tight for Le Pen's rally.

- Calming a colonial row -

Macron drew a storm of criticism in February after calling France's colonisation of Algeria a "crime against humanity".

On Wednesday, he sought to soothe tensions with groups representing the "Harkis", pro-French Algerians who fought on Paris's side in their nation's war of independence.

Macron tweeted a photo of the meeting and wrote: "Preparing for the future by reconciling memories. Meeting this morning with Harkis associations."

Several Harki groups voiced displeasure over his comments in February, for which Macron drew criticism from his rivals.

Around 60,000 Harkis, came to France after the war, but as many again were abandoned to face bloody reprisals in Algeria at the hands of their pro-independence countrymen.

- No comment -

French daily Le Monde revealed it cancelled an interview with Fillon after he refused to answer questions on the "fake jobs" scandal that has dogged his campaign.

"We deeply regret this attitude," the paper's editor-in-chief Luc Bronner said in a brief story titled "Why the Le Monde interview with Francois Fillon did not happen."

Fillon has been charged over allegations he gave his wife Penelope a fictional job as his parliamentary assistant for which she earned nearly 680,000 euros ($725,000) in public money.

- Pay Back -

Fillon couldn't dodge the scandal while visiting the offices of music streaming service Deezer on the campaign trail.

Workers at the office posted "Give back the money!!!" on their computer screens, an obvious reference to the scandal.

Fillon has not offered to give back the money, though he said he did return bespoke suits that were a gift from a wealthy friend.