In France, questions of migration are, for the most part, treated from the angle of immigration: it is foreigners entering French territory who are studied. The French population does, however, also emigrate and there were in late 2006 a little under two million French people living outside France. It is with these French people in foreign lands that Bernard Gentil concerns himself in this article.
As he shows here, it is difficult to provide a precise picture of this French population abroad: the statistical resources available are not really up to the task. We may nevertheless estimate the overall size of this group, its distribution and the trends within it over a little more than the last 20 years.
Thus, for example, the number of French people living abroad has risen by 3-4% per annum in the last 10 years. 80% of them are to be found in 25 countries (mostly in Western Europe) and their presence in Africa is falling. In most cases, these French people are settled abroad on a long-term rather than a short-stay basis, but there is no actual "exodus" of French people, contrary to what is sometimes reported in the media... Lastly, because there are no sufficiently representative surveys, we cannot specify the social characteristics of these French people living abroad with any precision (though they are often more highly educated and enjoy a higher standard of living than the local population, and are generally, but not exclusively, in the country for professional reasons etc.).