Indian diaspora in France

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Indian diaspora in France
Total population

(300,000 in overseas departements -

65,000 in metropolitan France)
Regions with significant populations
Paris, DOM-TOMs
French, Tamil, Indian languages, English
Hinduism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism
Related ethnic groups
Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin, Tamil

The Indian diaspora in France or French Indians are a demographic construct that referred to citizens and residents of France who of Indian origin. A sizable population of Sri Lankans are also often casually referred to as Indians due to being identical to those of Indian origin.

The majority of Indians in France are from the Tamil ethnolingustic group due to colonial ties with Tamil Nadu and overseas departments in places such as Reunion, the Indians in Metropolitan France are joined by 150,000 Tamils from Sri Lanka too.[1]


There are an estimated 100,000 Indians living in Metropolitan France, with around half of them being born on Metropolitan soil, and 1/3 having been born in India,[2] they are joined by around 150,000 Tamils from Sri Lanka who are practically identical to the existing Indians.[1] It is estimated that around 80% of the population live in the Greater Paris region.[2]

The majority of Indians in the Overseas Departments are also predominantly Tamil speakers, they number around 300,000 and can be found in the departments of of Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana.[2]

Indian families are typically small and share the low-birth rates found in the rest of the Indian community throughout Europe. According to Lakshami Dassaradaayadou, "The Tamils seem to have taken up employment in French government posts which are normally very secure, life long positions, and their children seem to have integrated well into the education and labour market."[2]


A majority of the Indian community hails from Puducherry and Chandannagar, the former French colonies in India, the earliest immigration into France can be traced back to since the 17th Century, from the French-administered colony of Puducherry in India. A large number of them hailing from middle-class families who joined the French government on service.

The later arrivals were mostly Tamils from Sri Lanka, who fled the country during the violence in 1983 and the Civil War that succeeded it. Today, there are about 50,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living in France, of which the greatest number live in Paris.

The Parisian Tamil community was fairly dispersed and disorderly until 1991, when Paris-based Tamils began to form tightly-knit networks centred in the northern reaches of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. Tamil-owned businesses appeared in great numbers seemingly overnight, while the colorful Chariot Festival, a tribute to the Hindu elephant god Ganesha, has become a popular annual procession eagerly anticipated by thousands of Parisians. There are Tamil newspapers, a radio station, and a website dedicated to Paris' residents.

Various social and political organisations supporting the Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism exist among the Tamil community in France, the Tamils in France were a part of the larger protests by the Tamil diaspora against the Sri Lankan state at the closure of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 which was seen as an alleged war crime during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War in the island.

A majority are engaged in small businesses. About 12,000 are in the French government service, while another 6,000 are in the police and armed forces.

In addition, there are expatriates, or residents, from different parts of India and from all walks of life, cultures and mindsets - artists, academics, cookery experts, engineers, francophiles, IT experts, filmmakers, historians, journalists, publishers, researchers, scientists, students, teachers, translators & interpreters, writers, yoga & ayurveda experts, and so on - who have chosen to live in France for cultural, or other, reasons.



The majority speak Tamil as their native language, many of the Tamils are fluent speakers of English due to their British colonial past. Many of the early migrants had struggled to find work and higher education due to their relatively lesser understanding of the French, as a result, many of them have taken up free and paid classes to learn French. A critical demand is that the French government create special work-training programs designed to orient refugees from different fields.

The Tamil community preserve their culture by creating special schools for children. Today there are ten or eleven active branches in Paris and in the suburbs (banlieue); in these weekend classes, children are taught Tamil, traditional music and dance, and religion.


A majority of the French Indian population are Hindus, and a significant number of them have faith in Christianity and Islam as well.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  1. ^ a b "La population tamoule en France aujourd’hui" (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b c d "Indians in France" (PDF). India EU.