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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. Originally rolled with darker or brun (brown) tobacco, in contrast to 'blondes'. In honour of the name, the cover sports a 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 cigarettes. The result was a cigarette that was both strong in flavor and had a distinctive aroma.

Gitanes Blondes are available, filtered, in Light and Regular. The Gitanes Brunes are available in 70mm versions, filtered and un-filtered.

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

During 2010 the size and content of regular Gitanes was reduced.

Gitanes Maïs (corn) are made with yellow corn paper.


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.

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.[2]

David Bowie smoked these in his personna of The Thin White Duke.[3]

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. ^ "The final hours of John Lennon's life - John Lennon tribute act". Retrieved 20 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Buckley, David (2015). David Bowie: The Music and The Changes. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1780-3898-82. 

Other sources[edit]