French Socialist candidate Segolene Royal has promised more help for low earners during a television appearance aimed at boosting her presidential bid.
Segolene Royal faced a sample of 100 French voters
She focused on plans to raise wages and create jobs, in what analysts describe as a fresh effort to rally the left.
"I will be the president who will battle against youth unemployment," she told an audience of ordinary citizens.
Ms Royal, who has faltered after a strong start, is to announce changes to her team this week.
She is widely seen as seeking to revive her campaign after a series of gaffes and policy disputes.
The audience at Monday's programme - entitled I Have a Question to Ask You - was chosen by a polling organisation to be representative of the French people.
Our Paris correspondent says that overall French papers agreed it was a solid but lacklustre performance, which failed to ignite enough sparks to re-start Ms Royal's campaign.
She was however watched by nearly 9m viewers, some 600,000 more than her rival Nicolas Sarkozy had attracted two weeks previously, according to Mediametrie.
During the programme Ms Royal said one of her priorities was to boost the income of pensioners earning less than the minimum wage.
"This is part of a bigger project to make France a fairer place," she told the audience.
Rival Nicolas Sarkozy may have profited from Royal's mistakes
Her standing in the polls has continued to slip despite a 100-point platform she unveiled on 11 February.
The programme placed a strong emphasis on social programmes, promising a higher minimum wage and the construction of more low-rent housing.
Opinion polls published just hours before the appearance showed less than a quarter of people intended to vote for her in the first round of ballot on 22 April.
This was her worst showing since she won her party's nomination in November.
Mr Sarkozy, the main centre-right candidate, has a 10-point lead ahead of her.
Two new polls also indicate that the candidate who comes third in voting intentions for the first round, Francois Bayrou of the centrist UDF party, would beat either Mr Sarkozy or Ms Royal if he made it to the run-off.
Ms Royal has played down her current poor showing in the polls, saying the election is still a long way off.