Many newspapers noted that a likely win for pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron in the May 7 run-off would be good news for the European Union but warned that his far-right rival Marine Le Pen could still pull off a surprise victory.
'Le Pen threat not over'
Media in neighbouring Britain hailed pro-European Macron's strong showing while adding that Le Pen's second-place success should not be ignored.
"The threat from the French extreme right is not over," the centre-left Guardian said, describing Macron as the "best hope of a deeply-troubled but great country".
Similar caution appeared on the front page of France's leftist daily Liberation which ran a picture of Macron with the headline: "Just one more step."
"The FN won its highest ever score in a presidential election. And if the fight turns into a confrontation between people and elites, who can be sure of the outcome?" it said.
"In this new world, anything is possible. In other words, stay vigilant," the paper said, while voicing hope that the "young leader of the (first round) vote will defeat the wicked stepmother."
French communist paper L'Humanite had a picture of Le Pen with the words "Never" across it. "Let's rally together to block her way," it said.
The Financial Times predicted May 7 would be an "act of coronation" for him, but warned that governing would not come so easily, saying Macron could be forced into "hard bargaining" to implement his reform agenda.
An opinion piece on America's rightwing Fox News website said Le Pen was still in with a good chance and referenced US President Donald Trump's shock win, saying: "She may pull off an even bigger surprise than the Tweeter in Chief. Yuge, in fact."
'A house divided'
Many papers pointed to the historic defeat inflicted on traditional parties, with the Wall Street Journal calling the vote a "stunning rebuke of France's mainstream political forces".
"A huge leap into the unknown," wrote the French economic daily Les Echos which described the vote as an expression of people being "fed up to the back teeth with the 'system' (and) making a clean break with the past."
But Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted that more than 40 percent had cast their ballots for the far-right or far-left.
"Macron's victory is so narrow that in the two previous presidential elections, he wouldn't have won a place in the second round," it said.
The BBC said France was "entering unchartered political water" and noted that whoever won the next round, the country was "deeply divided".
And Switzerland's Le Temps said the result showed the French republic was "broken" with the run-off "set to oppose two visions of France -- one inclusive and open to the world and its concerns, and the other cut off behind its borders and its old myths".
Insider or outsider?
"Congratulations to the artist! Eight months have seen Emmanuel Macron stage his takeover bid in the world of politics," enthused Xavier Brouet in the regional French paper Le Republicain Lorrain, in a nod to Macron's business background.
The New York Times noted Macron's strange status as both someone who has set himself apart from establishment parties but who also hails from the political elite.
"His profile is that of an insider, but his policies are those of an outsider," it said. "If the ever-precocious Mr. Macron is to succeed, his first challenge is to sell a product still largely unfamiliar to almost everyone: himself."
Good for the EU?
Poland's centre-left Gazeta Wyborcza expressed relief that the prospect of a French exit from the EU -- which could spell disaster for the bloc -- appeared slightly further off with polls indicating a Macron win in the run-off.
"The European Union needs to survive the divorce with Britain that has just begun. But Frexit -- a French departure from the union -- would have buried the European project."
"Europe has won", declared a headline in an opinion piece in Spain's top-selling daily El Pais. Macron was "the only truly European candidate among the four" main candidates in the first round.
France's 'big bang'
Australia's Sydney Morning Herald called the election results "a political earthquake" while French media said it was tantamount to a "big bang" which dealt a fatal blow to the country's traditional parties.
"A knock-out blow for the right," said Le Figaro, France's conservative daily which said that for the first time in decades, the mainstream right would not be represented in the second round of the election.
"(French) voters have turned a completely new page in the history of the Fifth Republic," said the liberal daily L'Opinion, saying they had rejected "all representatives of political parties who, in one way or another, had governed over past decades."
El Pais said the young centrist's success "points the way" for traditional parties wanting to reconnect with voters, noting that his "optimistic outlook on the future of the country and of Europe seduced voters at a time of rising populism, nationalism and xenophobia."
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)