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Indians in France

India has the largest diaspora in the world & as per the Ministry of External Affairs, there are 3.2 Crores or 32 million Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) residing outside India.

As per the Ministry of External Affairs report, there are 119,000 (1.19 Lakhs) Indians residing in France

  • Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) – 90,000 
  • Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) – 19,000

read about Population of Overseas Indians

Source: MEA report about overseas Indian population.

France Indian population

Indians make around less than 0.1%  of the France population and approx population of Indians in France as of 2023 is 1.20 Lakhs. A majority of the Indian community hails from the former French colonies in India, i.e Puducherry, and Chandannagar. Later arrivals to mainland France were mostly Gujaratis, Keralites, and Indians from Mauritius, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, the Seychelles, Réunion, and Madagascar. The NRI population in France are expats from India and number around 20000. Indian Expats have recently immigrated especially information technology professionals.

As of 2000, there were an estimated 65,000 Indians living in metropolitan France, in addition to 300,000 Indians in the French overseas departments and regions such as Réunion in the Indian Ocean, or Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean. According to reports, 6,000 Indian students are currently attending higher education institutions in France.

Recent history of Indians’ Migration to France

Although there were five Indian enclaves from which ex-colonial migrants have come to France, Pondicherry was by far the largest. The first Pondicherrians to arrive in France came in 1954 and there has been a fairly steady stream up to the present. The majority of the Pondicherrians came as students however, and following their studies settled and worked in France  There are perhaps 60,000 Pondicherrians in France at present and the vast majority live in and around Paris.

Throughout France’s colonization of Indochina, Tamils, mainly from the French enclaves had been recruited to work either in the army or in the French administration and many chose to stay on in South East Asia following the end of their contracts. These Indo-Vietnamese began returning to India or heading to France during the first Vietnam War, taking advantage of their French nationality. Following the fall of Saigon in 1975 another wave of a few thousand PIOs arrived in France fleeing persecution (many were leading businessmen in a now communist state) and economic insecurity. Most of these “twice migrants” live in and around Paris.

Another significant group of “twice migrants” have been those from Madagascar and Mauritius. Following the independence of these states in the 1960s, large numbers began migrating to France. In Madagascar, the population of PIOs (many of whom had Gujarati Muslim origins) had often held a dominant position in business which led to resentment by members of other ethnic groups on the island. This and economic uncertainty pushed many (exact figures unknown) to migrate to France. Meanwhile in Mauritius, which gained independence in 1968, up to 60,000 moved to France in the 1970s, overtaking Pondicherrians as the largest “Indian” group living in France.

There was a small migration of Gujaratis to Paris in the 1980s, perhaps of 2- 3000 individuals. Some of these migrants set up luxury jewelry businesses; others cornered the “convenience store” market, opening small shops outside many of Paris’ main metro stations.  Also from northern India, there have been waves of Punjabis, primarily Sikhs who have come to France for different reasons.

The first wave of Punjabis mainly settled around Paris, another wave of Punjabis has been of Sikhs fleeing insecurity related to the independent Khalistan movement. Punjabis have been particularly mobile in
Europe and are not necessarily tied to one country, often maintaining links with Sikhs in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.  Various estimates put their number at about 10-15,000.

Perhaps the most recent migration of Indians has been students and skilled workers/expatriates in transnational corporations, who have been arriving in France since the late 1990s, and appear to come rom diverse origins in India. 

Source: Indians in France: an increasingly diverse population by  Leonard Williams


Religion of Indian population in France

Indian French have diverse religious backgrounds, represented mainly by Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. Hinduism is the majority religion of Indians in France, Next is Christianity and Islam.

read about religion in France

Indian population in France 2023 | Indians in France