That bodes ill for electoral participation for the whole day - that was 57.22 percent in 2012 and 77.7 percent in April.
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Paris and the surrounding region seemed particularly lacking in motivation this Sunday morning - only 11.68 percent of voters made it to the polling booth in the capital, compared to 13.64 percent five years ago, and only 10.50 percent had done so in nearby Seine-Saint-Denis.
Voters in the south-west seemed more enthusiastic, in the Gers department, near Toulouse, 29.64 percent had voted by noon, and in the Corrèze, former president François Hollande's homebase, the figure was 28.88 percent.
Abstention was also high in French overseas territories, which have already finished voting.
In the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe it stood at 70 percent for the whole day.
There was a record abstention rate of over 60 percent on the Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia.
The abstention rate in French parliamentary elections has been rising over the years, from 22.8 percent in the first round in 1958 to 42.78 percent in the 2012 first round.
President Emmanuel Macron tried to set the example, voting in the Channel resort of Le Touquet, where he and his wife have a second home.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen, whom he beat to the presidency, voted in Hénin-Beaumont, the constituency in the deindustrialised north-west that she hopes to represent.
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