What happened today in France's presidential race

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French presidential election candidate for the far-left coalition La France insoumise Jean-Luc Melenchon, speaks next to Left Party's coordinator Dannielle Simonnet aboard an "unbowed" barge on the Canal Saint-Martin on April 17, 2017 in Paris

Five days before France votes in the first round of the presidential election, fast-rising Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon took to a barge and joint frontrunner Emmanuel Macron attracted a big crowd in Paris.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, vying with Macron for the lead ahead of Sunday's first round of voting, was briefly interrupted by a topless woman protester.

Here's what happened in the campaign on Monday:

- Melenchon navigates through race -

Communist-backed candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon chose the most eye-catching campaign platform of the day -- a barge on a Paris canal.

"Here you are on an Easter Monday listening to a guy on a boat. There's something in the air!," the 65-year-old self-styled revolutionary declared.

Melenchon has roared through the bottom half of the field and is now scoring 19.5 percent, equal third with conservative candidate Francois Fillon of the mainstream Republicans party.

The barge was another example of the original style that has made the most of a small campaign budget -- on Tuesday he will speak in the central city of Dijon while appearing in six other cities by hologram.

- Woman protester halts Le Pen -

A topless woman protester briefly disrupted Marine Le Pen's speech to 6,000 supporters at the Zenith concert hall.

Clutching a bunch of flowers and with illegible slogans scrawled on her chest, the woman was quickly bundled off the stage by security guards.

"These left-wing extremists have got it all wrong," the 48-year-old National Front (FN) leader said. "A total inversion of values has disrupted this speech by the only woman who defends women."

Several dozen left-wing protesters clashed with police outside the venue before the speech.

- 20,000 crowd for Macron -

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to his biggest crowd of the campaign so far, attracting 20,000 supporters to the Bercy arena in Paris.

"We are going to turn the page on the last 20 years because our generation is ready for change," the leader of En Marche (On the Move) told the crowd.

The 39-year-old former Rothschild banker and economy minister said France's future lay in the European Union.

"We need Europe, so we will remake it!," Macron told the crowd.

He also aimed a barb at Melenchon, saying he wanted to turn France into "Cuba without sun or Venezuela without oil".