Romani people in France

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French Romanis
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Total population
est. 500.000 [1]
Regions with significant populations
Alsace, Aquitaine, Île-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrénées, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes
French, Spanish, Romani, Sinti-Manouche, Erromintxela
Related ethnic groups
Romani people
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Romani people
Flag of the Romani people

French Romani people are generally known in spoken French as "Gitans", "Tsiganes" or "Manouches".


The Romani people originate from the Northern India,[2][3][4][5][6][7] presumably from the northwestern Indian states Rajasthan[8][9] and Punjab.[10]

The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of Romani language lie in India: the language has grammatical characteristics of Indian languages and shares with them a big part of the basic lexicon, for example, body parts or daily routines.[11]

More exactly, Romani shares the basic lexicon with Hindi and Punjabi. It shares many phonetic features with Marwari, while its grammar is closest to Bengali.[12]

Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group.[3][4][13] According to a genetic study in 2012, the ancestors of present scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northern India, traditionally referred to collectively as the Ḍoma, are the likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma.[14]


Guitar player Django Reinhardt.
Ritual bath in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a shrine associated with Romani people.
A seal on a document on the Montreuil-Bellay "nomad concentration camp (1943).

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ties to Romani in Spain.[15] The term "Romanichel" is considered pejorative[citation needed], and "Bohémien" is outdated.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.[16]

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.[17]


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.[18] 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.[19] A chartered flight carrying approximately 150 Romani to Romania left the Lyon area on 20 September.[20] France’s goal for 2011 was to deport 30,000 Romani to their home country.[21] 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.[22]

See also[edit]

  • Cascarots, a group of Romani in the Basque Country.
  • Erromintxela, a group of Romani in the Basque Country with their own language.


  1. ^ "Situation of Roma in France at crisis proportions - report". EurActiv. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  2. ^ Hancock 2002, p. xx: ‘While a nine century removal from India has diluted Indian biological connection to the extent that for some Romanian groups, it may be hardly representative today, Sarren (1976:72) concluded that we still remain together, genetically, Asian rather than European’
  3. ^ a b Mendizabal, Isabel; 21 others (6 December 2012). "Reconstructing the Population History of European Romani from Genome-wide Data". Current Biology. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Sindya N. Bhanoo (11 December 2012). "Genomic Study Traces Roma to Northern India". New York Times. 
  5. ^ Current Biology.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ Šebková, Hana; Žlnayová, Edita (1998), Nástin mluvnice slovenské romštiny (pro pedagogické účely) (PDF), Ústí nad Labem: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity J. E. Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem, p. 4, ISBN 80-7044-205-0 
  12. ^ Hübschmannová, Milena (1995). "Romaňi čhib – romština: Několik základních informací o romském jazyku". Bulletin Muzea romské kultury (Brno: Muzeum romské kultury) (4/1995). Zatímco romská lexika je bližší hindštině, marvárštině, pandžábštině atd., v gramatické sféře nacházíme mnoho shod s východoindickým jazykem, s bengálštinou. 
  13. ^ "5 Intriguing Facts About the Roma". Live Science. 
  14. ^ Rai, N; Chaubey, G; Tamang, R; Pathak, AK; Singh, VK; et al. (2012), "The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations", PLoS ONE 7 (11): e48477, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477 
  15. ^ Liégeois, Jean-Pierre. Roma, tsiganes, voyageurs. Council of Europe, 1994.
  16. ^ "Q&A: France Roma expulsions". BBC News. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  17. ^ "European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) v. France" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  18. ^ "France resumes deportations of Roma people from Romania". Czech Press Agency ( 13 April 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  19. ^ Ira, Kumaran (11 August 2011). "Marseille mayor orders mass expulsion of Roma camp". World Socialist Web Site (International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)). Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  20. ^ "France: One Year On, New Abuses against Roma". Human Rights Watch. 28 September 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  21. ^ Bran, Mirel (12 October 2011). "France's Immigration Chief Revisits the Roma Expulsion Issue, in Romania". Le Monde (Worldcrunch). Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  22. ^ Marian Chiriac (2013-05-03). "France, EU, Seek Action on Roma from Romania". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 2015-09-27.