France's 11 candidates to face off in major election debate

The 11 candidates in France's presidential race are preparing to face off in a crucial debate Tuesday evening, less than three weeks before the first round of the election.

The debate, scheduled to last three and a half hour on news channels BFM TV and CNews, will focus on three themes: creating jobs, protecting the French people and the country's social model.

Polls suggest independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are the two top contenders in the April 23-May 7 two-round election.

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, battered by allegations that he gave his wife and two children government-funded jobs which they never did, is struggling to survive in the race.

He faces charges in the case, and has denied any wrongdoing.