French President Francois Hollande comforted and united his nation during its worst terrorist attacks in decades, transforming himself from the most unpopular leader of modern France into the "father of the nation" and a statesman who brought world leaders together to link arms and march through Paris to defy extremism.

His prime minister, Manuel Valls, also emerged stronger after the three days of terrorist attacks that left 20 dead, managing the muscular operational reaction including deploying thousands of troops and police.

At least for now, the two Socialists' handling of the crisis could boost their standing, and may play a role in voters' minds if either or both seek the presidency in 2017.