According to French police records, there historically had been Algerian and other North African residents of the 18th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements of Paris.
Many North Africans settled in the city in the 1920s, making up the largest immigrant group to the city during that period. Clifford D. Rosenberg, the author of Policing Paris: The Origins of Modern Immigration Control Between the Wars, wrote that in the post-World War I period Muslims from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia may have only adopted a North African identity after coming to Paris, and this identity "was, at best, partial and bitterly contested", citing conflict between the Algerians and Moroccans in the city. Andrew Hussey, the author of Paris: The Secret History, wrote that the North Africans were also the "most politically contentious" immigrant group and that Parisians perceived the Algerians as criminals, believing that they "were capricious and sly and given to random violence." Even though the Algerians were French citizens, they perceived as not being French due to racial and religious reasons. Many North African residents took a more negative view of France after the Rif War occurred.
The areas in Paris settled by North Africans in the 1920s and 1930s were rue des Anglais, Les Halles, and Place Maubert. In addition a Moroccan community appeared in Gennevilliers and Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine also received North Africans.
In 1945 French authorities counted 60,000 North Africans. Of them, they included 50,000 Kabyles, 5,000 to 6,000 Chleuh, Algerian Arabs, and small Tunisian population. The numbers of students had decreased from the period between the World Wars, and only a small number of the north Africans included intellectuals, doctors, and lawyers. Hussey stated that initially North Africans settled the same historic communities as they did before. Naomi Davidson, the author of Only Muslim: Embodying Islam in Twentieth-Century France, wrote that there was a post-World War II perception that North Africans were taking over certain neighborhoods but that this was not accurate. She stated that the police records of North African immigrants from 1948 to 1952, which had their basis in employment figures and ration cards, were "not entirely reliable", and that "it is difficult to establish with any certainty precisely where the different North African immigrant social classes lived in Paris and the suburbs, making it impossible to argue that certain neighborhoods became "Maghrébin" virtually overnight."
The police chief of Paris, Maurice Papon, enacted a repression policy against Algerians in Paris during the years 1958 through 1962. The height of violence against Algerians occurred in September and October 1961. The Paris massacre of 1961 affected the Algerian community.
Davidson wrote that Goutte d'Or in Paris in 1948 "appears to have had" 5,720 North Africans and that the estimates of North Africans in 1952 were 5,500-6,400; it had been perceived to have become North African in the post-World War II period.
As of 2008 18.1% of the population of Saint-Denis was Maghrebian. Melissa K. Brynes, author of French Like Us? Municipal Policies and North African Migrants in the Parisian Banlieues, 1945--1975, wrote that in the middle of the 20th Century, "few of [the Paris-area communes with North African populations] were as engaged with their migrant communities as the Dionysiens."
Tim Pooley of the London Metropolitan University stated that the speech of young ethnic Maghrebians in Paris, Grenoble, and Marseilles, "conforms, in general, to the classic sociolinguistic pattern of their metropolitan French peers, the boys maintaining marked regional features, generally as minority variants, to a greater extent than the girls."
In 1978 a group of Franco-Maghrebians in Nanterre started a theatre troupe, Weekend à Nanterre. The plays performed by this troupe were about Franco-Maghrebians experiencing conflict from both the French and Maghrebian cultures.
DeGroat, Judith. ""To Be French": Franco-Maghrebians and the Commission de la Nationalité" (Chapter 3). In: Cornwell, Grant Hermans and Eve Walsh Stoddard (editors). Global Multiculturalism: Comparative Perspectives on Ethnicity, Race, and Nation. Rowman & Littlefield, January 1, 2001. ISBN 0742508838, 9780742508835.
House, Jim. "Leaving Silence Behind? Algerians and the Memories of Repression by French Security Forces in Paris in 1961" (Chapter 7). In: Adler, Nanci Dale, Selma Leydesdorff, Mary Chamberlain, and Leyla Neyzi (editors). Memories of Mass Repression: Narrating Life Stories in the Aftermath of Atrocity (Volume 1 of Memory and Narrative). Transaction Publishers, December 31, 2011. ISBN 1412812046, 9781412812047.
^ abHussey, Andrew. Paris: The Secret History. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, July 22, 2010. ISBN 1608192377, 9781608192373. p. 395. "At first the North Africans settled in parts of central Paris already known to the pre-war generation of North Africans who had come here in the 1920s and 1930s — Place Maubert, rue des Anglais, Les Halles, or the suburbs of Clichy and Gennevilliers (where there was a well-established community of Moroccans)." - See search page, Search page #2
^Sherzer, Dina (University of Texas at Austin). "Cinematic Representations of the Maghrebi Experience in France." In: Norman, Buford (editor). The Documentary Impulse in French Literature (French literature Series (FLS), Volume XXVIII, 2001). Rodopi, 2001. ISBN 9042013346, 9789042013346. p. 161.