Several events have led to emigration from France. The Huguenots started leaving in the 16th century, a trend that dramatically increased following the 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes. French colonization, especially in the Americas, was prominent in the late 17th and 18th centuries. At the end of the 18th century, French emigration (1789–1815) was a massive movement of émigrés mostly to neighboring European countries, as a result of the violence caused by the French Revolution. Later emigration was often associated with economic conditions. From 1847 to 1857, almost 200,000 French people emigrated abroad. From 1821 to 1920, around 121,000 Basques and Bearnese people from Basses-Pyrénées emigrated to America—more than 108,000 from 1835 to 1901.
From the beginning of the 19th century, to the middle of the 20th century, Argentina received the second largest group of French immigrants after the United States. According to official figures 239,000 Frenchmen immigrated to Argentina from 1857 to 1946 but the numbers are higher as immigration started in the 1820s (they formed the largest group of immigrants to the country until 1854) and lasted until the end of the 1960s. Unlike the United States where the immigration from France was more diverse, half of French immigrants to Argentina were from the Southwestern part of the country. It is now estimated that more than 6 million Argentines have some degree of French ancestry (17% of the total population).
Canada has the second largest community of people outside of France who have identified as being of French descent, close behind the United States. 8.5 million Canadians claim French heritage. The French-speaking province of Quebec has the highest concentration of people with French ancestry in the world: 90% of Quebecers have French roots. They are also found in large numbers in the province of New Brunswick where a third of the population can trace their roots back to France and in Ontario which is home to the second largest community of French Canadians in the country.
French immigration to Canada dates back to the 16th century, with the foundation of Charlesbourg-Royal in 1541. Tadoussac, the oldest surviving French settlement in the Americas, was established in 1599. From 1627 to 1663, the French population in Canada rose from 100 to 2,500 inhabitants. Within this period, it is estimated that around 1,250 French people immigrated to Canada, most of them coming from the provinces of Normandy, Aunis, Perche, Île-de-France, Poitou, Maine and Saintonge. Between 1665 and 1673, 900 Filles du Roy, half of them coming from Île-de-France, were sent to Canada to get married to farmers and soldiers. In 1760, the colony had a population of 60,000 inhabitants. It is estimated that from 1633 to 1760, an average of 56 Frenchmen emigrated to Canada each year. Between 1608, date of the foundation of Quebec, and 1756, only 10,000 French people emigrated to Canada, most of modern-day French Canadians can trace their roots back to them.
French first settled in Acadia in 1604. In 1667, when the colony went back to France, 441 inhabitants were registered. In 1713, as France ceded the territory to the British Crown, the population had risen to 2,500 Acadians. In 1755, out of a population of 14,000, 7,000 to 8,000 Acadians were deported. Around 1,800 of them fled to Louisiana where their descendants are known as Cajuns.
At the end of the 19th century, French Canadians started to settle in Northeastern and Eastern Ontario, creating the modern-day Franco-Ontarian communities, and in the Prairies. At the same time, immigration from France was encouraged and the country received over 144,000 French immigrants between 1881 and 1980.
Alliance française located in Barrio Amón, San José
The 19th-century French emigrants and their descendants, as well as France relevant international role had a lasting influence in Costa Rican society in the cultural, artistic and political fields. For instance, Costa Rican flag design was inspired by the French flag. This strong common ground of values also set the base for 20th- and 21st-century relations between both countries supported institutionally through several organizations such as the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, as well as through the French population in Costa Rica, currently the largest French community in Central America with 2235 habitants.
The French came to Chile in the 18th century, arriving at Concepción as merchants, and in the mid-19th century, to cultivate vines in the haciendas of the Central Valley, the homebase of Chilean wine. The Araucanía Region also has an important number of people of French ancestry, as the area hosted settlers arrived by the second half of the 19th century, as farmers and shopkeepers. With akin Latin culture, the French immigrants quickly assimilated into mainstream Chilean society.
Most of French immigrants settled in the country between 1875 and 1895. Between October 1882 and December 1897, 8,413 Frenchmen settled in Chile. At the end of the 19th century, they were almost 30,000.
Today, it is estimated that there are 520,000 Chileans of French descent. President Michelle Bachelet is of French origin, as was former dictator Augusto Pinochet. Several prominent politicians, businessmen and professionals in the country have French ancestry.
The first French immigrants were politicians such as Nicolas Raoul and Isidore Saget, Henri Terralonge and officers Aluard, Courbal, Duplessis, Gibourdel and Goudot. Later, when the Central American Federation was divided in 7 countries, Some of them settled to Costa Rica, others to Nicaragua, although the majority still remained in Guatemala. The relationships start to 1827, politicians, scientists, painters, builders, singers and some families emigrated to Guatemala. Later in a Conservative government, annihilated nearly all the relations between France and Guatemala, and most of French immigrants went to Costa Rica, but these relationships were again return to the late of the nineteenth century.
The first French settlers arrived in Mauritius (then Isle de France) in 1722, after the previous attempts of settlement by the Dutch had failed, and the island had once again become abandoned. They lived and prospered on the island, ruling it until the British invasion of 1810. The French by now strongly identified with the island, and the terms of capitulation allowed the settlers to live on as a distinct francophone ethnic group for the next 158 years under British rule before Mauritius attained independence.
Not all Franco-Mauritians have pure French lineage, many also have British or other European ancestors that came to Mauritius and were absorbed in the Franco-Mauritian community or the gens de couleur (Coloureds). There are an estimated 15,000–20,000 Franco-Mauritians; French lineage is also found within the gens de couleur community with many having predominantly French ancestors—a further 30,000 people with considerable French bloodline. Within the Afro-Creole community, a large number of people have some French ancestors from slavery.
In Mexico, a sizeable population can trace its ancestry to France, which was the second largest European contributor, after Spain. The bulk of French immigrants arrived in Mexico during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
From 1814 to 1955, inhabitants of Barcelonnette and the surrounding Ubaye Valley emigrated to Mexico by the dozens. Many established textile businesses between Mexico and France. Around the start of the 20th century, there were 5,000 French from the Barcelonnette region registered with the French Consulate in Mexico. While 90% stayed in Mexico, some returned, and from 1880 to 1930, built grand mansions called Maisons Mexicaines and left a mark upon the city. Today, there are 60,000 descendants of the French "Barcelonnettes".
Many Mexicans of French descent live in cities such as Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Puebla, Guadalajara, and the capital, Mexico D.F., where French surnames such as Derbez, Pierres, Betancourt, Alaniz, Blanc, Jurado (Jure), Colo (Coleau), Marín (Marin), Caire, Dumas, Tresmontrels, and Moussier can be found.
During the first half of the 19th century, Uruguay received most French immigrants to South America. It constituted back then the second receptor of French immigrants in the New World after the United States. Thus, while the United States received 195,971 French immigrants between 1820 and 1855, 13,922 Frenchmen, most of them from the Basque Country and Béarn, left for Uruguay between 1833 and 1842.
The majority of immigrants were coming from the Basque Country, Béarn and Bigorre. Today, there are an estimated at 300,000 French descendants in Uruguay.
The United States is home to the largest community of people outside of France who have identified as being of French descent. According to the last census of 2010, more than 11.5 million Americans claim French ancestry (French and French Canadian combined), i.e. 4% of the total population. French Americans make up more than 10% of the population in New England, through the emigration from Quebec between 1840 and 1930, and in Louisiana, through the French colonization of the region, the relocalization of deported Acadians and later immigration from Saint-Domingue and from continental France. French is the fourth most spoken language in the United States, after English, Spanish and Chinese with over 2 million speakers.
From 1830 to 1986, 772,000 Frenchmen immigrated to the United States.
Between the 1840s and the 1930s, around 900,000 French Canadians emigrated to the United States, especially in New England. Half of them eventually returned home. Their descendants number 2.1 million people.
^Rapports sociaux de sexe et immigration. Environ 121 000 Basques et Béarnais ont émigré en Amérique entre 1821 et 1920 selon Louis Etcheverry et plus de 108 000 pendant la période allant de 1835 à 1901 selon Henri de Charnisay (page 60).
^(in French)Totalité de ceux se présentant comme « Européens », « Calédoniens » ou « Métis » au recensement de 2009 : il faut y enlever les Métropolitains présents depuis peu sur le Territoire, ainsi que des personnes issues d'autres métissages ou se disant « Calédoniennes » sans se sentir « Caldoches ».
^"Mexique". France Diplomatie: Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères (in French). Retrieved 7 November 2018. Le Consulat général évalue à un total de 30 000 personnes la présence française dans le pays.
^"La influencia francesa en la vida social de Chile de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX"(PDF). Los datos que poseía el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Francia ya en 1863, cuando aúno se abría Agencia General de Colonización del Gobierno de Chile en Europa, con sede en París, daban cuenta de 1.650 ciudadanos franceses residentes. Esta cifra fue aumentando paulatinamente hasta llegar, tal como lo consignaba el Ministerio Plenipotenciario Francés en Chile, a un número cercano a los 30.000 franceses residentes a fines del siglo.