France's far-right National Front (FN) appears to be on course for an historic breakthrough in regional elections this weekend, with the country still traumatised by last month's Paris terror attacks.

The party's leader Marine Le Pen looks set to take the former Socialist heartland in the economically depressed northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, while her 25-year-old niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen is ahead in the race for the vast southeastern region that includes the French Riviera.

The anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant FN -- which has never before controlled a region -- has been climbing in the polls since 130 people were killed by jihadist gunmen and bombers in Paris on November 13.

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