With less than a month to the first round of the French presidential election, the Socialist Party licks its wounds after its candidate was spurned by ex-premier Manuel Valls and pensioners took to the streets with their demands.

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Thursday:

'Nail in the coffin'

Le Parisien newspaper said Valls' repudiation of the Socialists' candidate Benoit Hamon -- a leftist rebel who quit the government in 2014 over its pro-business policies -- was the "nail in the coffin" of the party.

The party of Francois Mitterrand that had acted as a broad church of the left since the 1970s "died yesterday, without panache, corroded by ideological and personal rivalries," the paper wrote after Valls endorsed independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.

'We're not toffs', seniors say

Hundreds of seniors took to the streets in major cities across France to call attention to their declining purchasing power because pensions have stagnated since 2013.

More than 1,000 marched in Paris behind a giant banner reading "Pensioners Aren't Toffs".

"One of Fillon's suits is worth a year's pension," said a retiree in Marseille, referring to scandal-plagued conservative candidate Francois Fillon, who accepted three bespoke suits from a wealthy friend.

Pensioners also protested in the northern city of Lille, southern Toulouse and central Dijon.

'Stop hassling farmers'

Farmers were friendlier towards Fillon at a gathering in the town of Brest, in the western Brittany region, where seven candidates turned up to discuss their proposals for the struggling agriculture sector.

The conservative candidate, who polls show will crash out of the first round on April 23, drew warm applause when he said the government and the EU should "stop hassling farmers", while calling for a "strong, ambitious, reactive Europe".

Meanwhile the two frontrunners in polls for the presidency, Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, spelled out their opposing views on the European Union.

"We need, you need Europe," Macron said, while Le Pen called the EU's Common Agricultural Policy -- which accounts for 80 percent of French farmers' income on average -- "a disaster."

Outside, around 20 farmers had driven their tractors to the venue to highlight their distress.

"We need support and proposals from the candidates, because so far we haven't had much of either," dairy farmer Julien Hindre told AFP.