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For the French bicycle manufacturer, see Gitane.

Gitanes (pronounced [ʒi.tan], "gypsy women") is a brand of French cigarettes, sold in many varieties of strengths and packages. It is currently owned by Imperial Tobacco following their acquisition of Altadis in January 2008, having been owned by SEITA before that. The cigarette was originally made with darker or brun (brown) tobacco, in contrast to the more widespread blonde. In honour of the name, the packet shows the silhouette of a Spanish gypsy woman playing the tambourine. The boxes have always featured the colours black, blue and white.

There is a distinction between the "blonde" style of current Gitanes, and the classic style of Gitanes Brunes, both of which are sold in Europe and South America (most commonly in Argentina and Chile). The classic Gitanes Brunes tobacco achieved its characteristic and distinctive "bite" by using a fire-flued method of curing the tobacco, and a "rice" type of rolling paper which differs from most other cigarettes. The result was a cigarette which had both a strong flavor and a distinctive aroma.

Gitanes Blondes are available, filtered, in Light and Regular. The Gitanes Brunes are available in 70mm versions, filtered and unfiltered. During 2010 the size and content of regular Gitanes was reduced.[citation needed] Gitanes Maïs (corn) are made with yellow corn paper.[citation needed]

Production in France recently halted, with one factory remaining operational in the Netherlands. This was mainly due to the rise on tobacco levies imposed by the French Government in the wake of enforced EU health directives, which has forced up the price of French cigarettes to the level of those in the US, with the more aggressively promoted brands such as Marlboro now taking the majority market share.


The first art-deco packet design was produced by Maurice Giot in 1927. An image of a Gypsy dancer, designed by Molusson, first appeared on the cigarette packets in 1943. In 1947, Max Ponty refined the figure to a silhouette to create an image that is still in use today on the Gitanes Blonde packet. The dancer silhouette was reworked by many famous poster designers, including Savignac in 1953 and Morvan in 1960.[1]


  • 1910: First appearance of Gitanes, without a filter, in four versions.
  • 1918: First appearance of Gitanes Maïs, which are a success in rural areas.
  • 1956: Appearance of the first Gitane filter.
  • 1981: "Light" versions are first marketed.
  • 1986: First Blondes launched, and are a failure.
  • 1988: First appearance of extra light versions.
  • 1991: Gitanes ultra light are introduced.
  • 1990/91: simultaneous launch of a new version of Blondes with ultra light.
  • 1999: Merger of SEITA and Spanish Tabacalera gives birth to Altadis, current producer of Gitanes.

Motorsport sponsorship[edit]

Formula 1[edit]

Gitanes has had a long standing partnership with the Equipe Ligier team. Following the acquisition of the Matra F1 team's assets, Ligier entered Formula One in 1976 with a Matra V12-powered car, and won the 1977 Swedish Grand Prix with Jacques Laffite. This is generally considered to have been the first all-French victory in the Formula One World Championship.[2]

The 1980 Ligier JS11/15 being demonstrated at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

In total the team won 8 races, got 47 podiums and earned 373 points during their partnership with Gitanes. In 1996, the sister company Gauloises became the new sponsor, ending a partnership that lasted 19 years.

In 1997 the team was sold to Alain Prost and became Prost Grand Prix in 1997. Prost GP, despite substantial financial backing by large private French companies, failed to make the team competitive and went bankrupt in 2002.

Sports cars[edit]

After retiring from racing following the death of his friend Jo Schlesser, Guy Ligier decided to found his own team and had engineer Michel Tétu develop a sports car named the JS1 (Schlesser's initials). The Cosworth-powered JS1 took wins at Albi and Monthlery in 1970, but retired at Le Mans and from the Tour Automobile de France.[3]

For 1971, Ligier had the JS1 developed into the JS2 and JS3. The JS2 was homologated for road use and used a Maserati V6 engine, while the JS3 was an open-top sports-prototype powered by a Cosworth DFV V8 engine. The JS3 won at Monthlery in 1971 but failed to finish the minimum distance in Le Mans. Therefore, it was retired,[4] and Ligier installed the Cosworth DFV in the JS2 road car, finishing second overall at Le Mans in 1975.[5] Guy Ligier then switched his efforts into Formula One.

In cartoons[edit]

In the original Transformers series, Mirage transforms into a Formula One Ligier racecar sponsored by "Citanes" (altered so as to get past the law forbidding tobacco advertising).

Takumi in the Japanese manga Nana smokes them.

Lupin the Third is shown in various incarnations to smoke Gitanes.

Porco Rosso of Hayao Miyazaki's film Porco Rosso smokes Gitanes.

In comics[edit]

They are mentioned in the DC Comic "Dial H" Issue 7. The brand is also the favorite of "the world's number one thief" Lupin III.

In music[edit]

The cover of the album 1974 Dancing on a Cold Wind, by Carmen, and the cover of the album 1981 Shades, by JJ Cale, both use the Gitanes design. The brand is mentioned in the song "Late Bloomer", from the album The Voyager, by Jenny Lewis. "She was smoking on a gypsy."

It is noted that John Lennon smoked Gitanes on his last day.[6]

David Bowie smoked these in his personna of The Thin White Duke.[7]

Serge Gainsbourg was a heavy Gitanes smoker and always appeared in public with his package of Gitanes in his hand. There is a book called "A fistful of Gitanes" about his life & career.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Champions of Design: Gitanes". 
  2. ^ Chassis, engine and driver were French. The gearbox was British (Hewland) and the tyres American (Goodyear). Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Renault achieved victory at the 1979 French Grand Prix with an all-Renault car and Michelin tyres.
  3. ^ "1969 - 1970 Ligier JS1 - Images, Specifications and Information". Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  4. ^ "1971 Ligier JS3 Cosworth - Images, Specifications and Information". 2004-11-23. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  5. ^ "Le Mans Register - 1975". Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  6. ^ "The final hours of John Lennon's life - John Lennon tribute act". Retrieved 20 September 2016. 
  7. ^ Buckley, David (2015). David Bowie: The Music and The Changes. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1780-3898-82. 

Other sources[edit]