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Famous French people of immigrant origin

France is an incredibly multi-ethnic country by European standards. At the crossroads of Europe, it has an ancient Celtic, Latin, Basque and Germanic heritage. Over 10% of the population of France is foreign, and almost one fourth comes from recent immigration (i.e. including children or grand-children of immigrants). Here is a list of a few famous ones.

Writers & Philosophers

  • Guillaume Apollinaire, born in Rome to a Polish mother and possibly Swiss-Italian father (birth name : Wilhelm Albert Vladimir Apollinaris Kostrowitzky)
  • Emmanuel Lévinas,born in Lithuania of Jewish parents.
  • Henri Troyat, son of Armenian immigrants from Russia (birth name : Levon Aslan Torossian)
  • Jacques Derrida, born in Algeria, into a Sephardic Jewish family.



  • Édith Piaf, born of an Italian-Algerian mother and a French father.
  • Charles Aznavour, son of Armenian immigrants (birth name : Shahnour Vaghinagh Aznavourian)
  • Serge Gainsbourg, son of Jewish Russian immigrants.
  • Claude François, Italian mother.
  • Johnny Hallyday, born of a Belgian father and a French mother (birth name : Jean-Philippe Smet)
  • Sylvie Vartan, born in Bulgaria, daughter of a Bulgarian father of Armenian descent and a Hungarian mother.
  • Hélène Ségara, born of an Italian father and an Armenian mother (real name : Hélène Rizzo)


  • Yves Montand, naturalised French actor, born Ivo Livi in Italy of Italian parents.
  • Jeanne Moreau, born in Paris to a French father and an English mother of Irish descent.
  • Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sicilian father.
  • Jean Reno, born of Spanish parents in Casablanca, Morocco (real name : Juan Moreno y Herrera Jiménez).
  • Josiane Balasko, born in Paris in a Yugoslavian family of Croatian origin. (real name : Josiane Balaskovic)
  • Isabelle Adjani, born to an Algerian father and a German mother.
  • Samy Naceri, born to an Algerian father and French mother.
  • Jamel Debbouze, born of Moroccan parents.

Sports people

... many other football players.

Check also: Famous French people

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