France's domestic woes played a big part, commentators say
Several French papers see the country's rejection of the proposed European constitution as a major blow to President Jacques Chirac.
Other commentators trace the defeat of the "Yes" campaign back to the shock second place won by the National Front's Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 2002 presidential election.
One has to go far back into the history of our republic to find a day of equal intensity.
The "No" has won and everything is turned upside down.
For a long time, Jacques Chirac has been able to go to bed early on election night... Did he manage to sleep so well on Sunday night? He must realise to what extent the failure of the referendum is a personal disaster.
Censured by the French people, discredited on the international scene, but still in charge, following the victory of the "No" vote Jacques Chirac takes on a political landscape which is lying completely fallow.
European construction appears to be the victim of the collateral damage inflicted by [the French presidential election of April 2002], so heavily does domestic policy appear to have weighed with French voters above and beyond European considerations.
A masterpiece of masochism... Voters from the left posted their cries of pain, fear, anguish and rage in the ballot boxes, faced with the world's mad rush and the neglect of those who have been leading us for more than two decades.
With the Constitutional Treaty rejected by France, the European Union continues on its way... Our country is very likely to find itself isolated and ill understood, which is why, after this referendum, France needs to find its unity again in the desire to build Europe.
May 29 is the aftershock from April 21, 2002. It's a new political tremor which, like its predecessor, is going to provoke the same reactions in Europe and over the world. The same shock, the same incomprehension, the same recriminations.
Le Nouvel Observateur
BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.