French Romani people are generally known in spoken French as "Tsiganes". The French typically classify the Romani in their country into three groups: "Roms," referring to Romani who come from territories from eastern Europe; "Manouches," also known as "Sinté," who often have familial ties in Germany and Italy; and "Gitans," who trace their familial ties to Romani in Spain. The term "Romanichel" is considered pejorative, and "Bohémien" is outdated. The French National Gendarmerie tends to refer to "MENS" ("Minorités Ethniques Non-Sédentarisées"), a neutral administrative term meaning "Travelling Ethnic Minorities".
Approximately 400,000 Romani live in France as part of established communities. Additionally, the French Romani rights group FNASAT reports that at least 12,000 Romani, who have illegally immigrated from Romania and Bulgaria, live in unofficial urban camps throughout the country. French authorities often close down these encampments. In 2009, the government sent more than 10,000 Romani back to Romania and Bulgaria.
In 2009, the European Committee of Social Rights found France had violated the European Social Charter (rights to housing, right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, right of the family to protection) in respect to its Romani population.
In 2010 and 2011, the French government organized repatriation flights to send Romani back to Romania. On 12 April a chartered flight carrying 160 Romani left northern France for Timisoara. As in the 2010 deportations, the French government gave those Romani leaving France 300 euros each, with 100 euros for each child. The Romani on the 12 April flight had each signed declarations that they would never return to France. On 9 August, the city of Marseille in southern France forcibly evicted 100 Romani people from their makeshift camp near Porte d’Aix, giving them 24 hours to leave. A chartered flight carrying approximately 150 Romani to Romania left the Lyon area on 20 September. France’s goal for 2011 was to deport 30,000 Romani to their home country. As of 2012, France sent about 8,000 Romani back to Romania and Bulgaria in 2011, after dismantling illegal camps where they were living on the outskirts of cities. The actions prompted controversy and calls for greater inclusion of Romani people.