French Ethnic Minorities: -Gypsys

Figure 1.--This is a French Gypsy boy at a camp near Aix-en-Provence.

French Authorities from an early point saw the Gypsies as a troublesome nuisance. French authorities required all Gypsies over 6 years of age to carry identity cards (1912). Some 8,000 Gypsies were registed. The Romani people recognize divisions among themselves based in part on territorial, cultural and dialectal differences and self-designation. One of these are the Manush in the French-speaking areas of Western Europe. Tghe French have several terms: Manouches and Tsiganes. Romanichels and Gitans are also used, but pejorative. Bohémiens was once used, but is now considered outdated. Another term is Gens du Voyage (Travellers), but seems to mean Gypsy rather than a different group as in Ireland. The French police (National Gendarmerie) tends to use the term Minorités Ethniques Non-Sédentarisées (MENS--Travelling Ethnic Minorities). Perhaps French uniquely in Europe, municipal autjorities are required by law to provide Romani travellers land where they can set up a camp. An estimated 0.4 million Gypsys live in France as part of established communities. France's affluence has attracted Romni from other countris, mostly Eastern Europe (Bulgaria and Romania). Estimates vary as to the numbers involved. They are mostly found in illegal camps. French authorities have been known to conduct roundups and deportations which have been critizied by civil libertarians.


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Created: 12:29 AM 1/18/2011
Last updated: 7:49 AM 6/23/2012