Central Paris will come to a standstill on Sunday for the inauguration of Emmanuel Macron as president of France for a five-year term he overcame the odds to win and which he has said can unite a divided nation.
In a first for the world’s fifth largest economy that is a founding member of the European Union, the 39 year-old centrist newcomer was unknown to the wider public three years ago and does not belong to any traditional political grouping.
The former investment banker will become the youngest postwar French leader and the first to be born after 1958 when President Charles de Gaulle put in place the country’s fifth Republic.
In the coming parliamentary elections in June he must try to win a parliamentary majority for his start-up Republic on the Move (REM) party which has blown apart traditional French political boundaries.
Those who believe that the open borders, closer European ties and business-friendly reforms Macron wants are the key to prosperity and peace were relieved when he won a run-off vote against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen a week ago with 66 percent of the vote.
A 21 gun salute at the Esplanade des Invalides behind the Eiffel Tower after he takes power will mark at least a pause in the anti-globalisation trend that brought Donald Trump the US presidency and led British voters to pick a future outside the European Union.
But the outcome of a fraught, tight, and bitterly contested election campaign was a disappointment for almost half of France’s 47 million voters.
Many of them feel dispossessed as manufacturing jobs move abroad and as immigration and a fast-changing world blur their sense of a French identity.
The handover begins at around 10am (1800 AEST) at the 18th century Elysee palace presidential residence with a meeting that will include the exchange of nuclear missile launch codes.
Then Hollande will leave.
Back inside the Elysee, the result of the election will be read out – a moment that marks the actual assumption of power.
Originally published as France to welcome new president