With more than 36,000 cities, towns and villages (all officially called "communes"), France has more municipalities than any other developed country. So nationwide municipal elections, which happen every six years, are a big event. Last Sunday was the first round; most major towns will vote again next Sunday in a second round.

The headline news is that the elections are a setback for Socialist President Francois Hollande and his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The Left appears to have lost ground throughout the country, both to the main opposition party, the centre-right UMP, but also to the far-right National Front. (Official results are here; Le Monde has a more user-friendly version).