PARIS, May 14 (Reuters) - Emmanuel Macron took power as president of France on Sunday, vowing to restore the country's status in Europe and the world and heal divisions in society - a nod to the bitter campaign the pro-EU centrist fought to defeat a far-right leader.
Mr Macron announced his determination to push ahead with reforms to free up France's economy and pledged to press for a "more efficient, more democratic" EU.
"For decades France has doubted itself", Macron said in his inaugural speech at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, making one of his main tasks "to bring self-confidence back to the French".
Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Macron said France had chosen "hope".
Macron won a runoff on May 7, beating far-right Front National candidate Marine Le Pen by a wide margin.
France's place was in the European Union "which protects us and enables us to project our values in the world", but he said the 28-member bloc needed to be "reformed and relaunched".
Macron is the eighth president of France's Fifth Republic, created in 1958.
A former investment banker, Macron served as top adviser on economic issues to outgoing President Francois Hollande between 2012 and 2014.
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He takes over from François Hollande, whose five-year term was plagued by high unemployment figures.
Macron officially became president after Laurent Fabius, who is chairman of the constitutional council, read out the results of the presidential election in the Sunday ceremony. "European Union will be reformed and re-launched", Macron said.
He said he would convince the people that "the power of France is not declining - that we are on the brink of a great renaissance".
On Thursday Mr Macron's party announced a list of 428 candidates - a lot of them political unknowns - to fight parliamentary elections in June that will determine his chances of putting his program into action.
His first visit overseas will be to Germany on Monday, to visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and then in the following days will have to name his prime minister and form a government.
The 39-year-old Macron slowly marched alone, under a light rain, in the Elysee courtyard.
Francois Hollande, France's former president, has left the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, following a one-hour meeting with his successor Emmanuel Macron.
About 300 guests, officials and family members gathered in the Elysee reception hall, including Macron's wife, Brigitte, wearing a lavender blue dress by French designer Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton. The 39-year-old himself benefited from the electorate's desire for fresh faces and solutions, as the first president in the modern era to be elected without the support of France's two main traditional parties.