Italians in France

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Italian French
Italo Francese
Italy France
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Total population

Total population of Italian ancestry 4,000,000 (with Italian ancestry)[1]

Residents of France born in Italy 174,000 (Italian citizens)[2]

370,000 (Other data of Italian citizens in France) [3]
Regions with significant populations
 France, Paris, Lyon, Lille, Strasbourg, Bretagne, Southeastern France (Corsica and Nice have autochthonous Italian populations).
French, Italian, Italian dialects.
Roman Catholicism

Italian migration into what is today France has been going on, in different migrating cycles, for centuries, beginning in prehistoric times right to the modern age.[4][5] In addition, Corsica passed from the Republic of Genoa to France in 1768, and the county of Nice and Savoy from the Kingdom of Sardinia to France in 1860. According to Robin Cohen, "about 5 million French nationals are of Italian origin if their parentage is retraced over three generations".[4] According to official data of the Eurostat for the 2012, instead of Italian citizens residing in France were 174,000.[2]

History of Italians in France[edit]

Middle Ages and Renaissance[edit]

There has always been migration, since ancient times, between what is today Italy and France, but at a limited extent. This is especially true of the regions of northwestern Italy and southeastern France. As Italian wealth and influence grew during the Middle Ages, many Florentine, Genoese, Neapolitan, Piedmontese and Venetian traders, bankers and artisans settled, usually through family branches, throughout France. Regions of significant Italian diaspora sprang up as far north as Paris and Flanders. However it was not much as a percentage of the French global population.

This Italian migration developed more through the Renaissance, as previous generations became assimilated. Italian artists, writers and architects were called upon by the French monarchy and aristocrats, leading to a significant interchange of culture, but it was not a massive immigration of popular classes.

Since the 16th century, Florence and its citizens have long enjoyed a very close relationship with France.[6] In 1533, at the age of fourteen, Catherine de' Medici married Henry, the second son of King Francis I and Queen Claude of France. Under the gallicised version of her name, Catherine de Médici, she became Queen consort of France when Henry ascended to the throne in 1547. Later on, after Henry died, she became regent on behalf of her ten-year-old son King Charles IX and was granted sweeping powers. After Charles died in 1574, Catherine played a key role in the reign of her third son, Henry III.

Other notable examples of Italians that played a major role in the history of France include Cardinal Mazarin, born in the Kingdom of Naples was a cardinal, diplomat and politician, who served as the chief minister of France from 1642 until his death in 1661. Mazarin succeeded his mentor, Cardinal Richelieu, and extended France's political ambitions not only within Italy but towards England as well.

Enrico Tonti, born near Gaeta, Italy (1649/50 - 1704) was an Italian-born soldier, explorer, and fur trader in the service of France. He was the son of Lorenzo de Tonti, a financier and former governor of Gaeta. Enrico was second in command of the La Salle expedition on his descent of the Mississippi River. Tonti's letters and journals are valuable source materials on these explorations.

Enrico's brother, Pierre Alphonse de Tonti, or Alphonse de Tonty, Baron de Paludy (ca. 1659 – 10 November 1727)[1] was an officer who served under the French explorer Cadillac and helped establish the first European settlement at Detroit, Michigan, Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit on the Detroit River in 1701. Several months later, both Cadillac and Tonty brought their wives to the fort, making them the first European women to travel into the interior of North America. He was the son of Lorenzo de Tonti who was a financier and former governor of Gaeta. Lorenzo de Tonti was the inventor of the form of life insurance known as the tontine. Henri de Tonti, involved in LaSalle's exploration of the Mississippi River and the establishment of the first settlement in Arkansas, was his older brother.

Modern period[edit]

It should be noted that Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor and general, was ethnically Italian of Corsican origin, whose family was of Genoese and Tuscan ancestry.[7]

Italian popular immigration to France only began in the late 18th century, really developed from the end of the 19th century until the WWI and became quite massive after this war. France needed workforce to compensate for the war losses and its very low birthrate. Initially, Italian immigration to modern France (late 18th to the early 20th century) came predominantly from northern Italy (Piedmont, Veneto), then from central Italy (Marche, Umbria), mostly to the bordering southeastern region of Provence.[4] It wasn't until after World War II that large numbers of immigrants from southern Italy immigrated to France, usually settling in industrialised areas of France, such as Lorraine, Paris and Lyon.[4]

Autochthonous populations[edit]

See also: Italians and Corsicans

In both the County of Nice, parts of Savoy, "Italian" can refer to autochthonous speakers of Italian dialects (Ligurian and Piedmontese languages), natives in the region since before annexation to France, and also to descendants of Italians that migrated to the areas when they were part of Italian states. The number of inhabitants with Italian ancestry is generally indeterminable, and the use of French language is now ubiquitous. In addition, Corsica was a part of the Republic of Genoa until 1768 and many Corsicans speak along with French the Corsican language, a dialect of Italian,[8] related to other central southern Italian dialects along with Tuscan, Neapolitan, Sicilian and others[9] or closely related to the Tuscan dialect of Italian.[10]

Notable Italian French people[edit]

Édith Piaf, world famous French singer

The list is organized chronologically, listing Italians in France by birth date periods

First half of the 19th century[edit]

second half of the 19th century[edit]











See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Italiani Nel Mondo : Diaspora italiana in cifre" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  2. ^ a b Amy Sedghi. "Europe: where do people live?". the Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Gli italiani continuano a emigrare un milione in fuga negli ultimi 4 anni -". La Repubblica. Retrieved 24 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d Cohen, Robin (1995). The Cambridge Survey of World Migration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 143. ISBN 9780521444057. 
  5. ^ (French) Histoire de l'Italie à Paris. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  6. ^ Project MUSE – Renaissance Quarterly – Savonarola in Francia: Circolazione di un'eredità politico-religiosa nell'Europa del Cinquecento (review). Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  7. ^ "Napoleon I (emperor of France) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  8. ^ Harris, Martin; Vincent, Nigel (1997). Romance Languages. London: Routlegde. ISBN 0-415-16417-6. 
  9. ^ Italian Language. Encarta. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  10. ^ "Eurolang report on Corsican". Retrieved 2008-06-13.