Infobox Ethnic group
group = Pied-Noir

caption = Louis Franchet D'Esperey·Alain Chabat·Albert Camus
pop = 1m+ "(1960s)" 10% of total population of Algeria
regions = Algiers, Oran, Constantine
languages = French
religions = Mainly Catholicism, minorities practicing Judaism, Protestantism or no religion

"Pied-Noir" ("Black-Foot"), plural "Pieds-Noirs", pronounced IPA|/pje.nwaʁ/, is a term used to refer to colonists of Algeria until the end of the Algerian War in 1962. Specifically, "Pieds-Noirs" were French nationals, including those of European descent, Sephardic Jews, and settlers from other European countries such as Spain, Italy, and Malta, who were born in Algeria. From the French invasion in June 18, 1830, until attaining independence, Algeria formed three départements (Algiers, Oran and Constantine) and was considered a part of France. By independence, the "Pieds-Noirs" accounted for 1,025,000 people, or roughly 10 percent of the total population.Cite book | author=Cook, Bernard A. | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Europe since 1945: an encyclopedia | date=2001 | publisher=Garland | location=New York | isbn=0-8153-4057-5 | pages=pp. 398] Specifically, "Pieds-Noirs" were French nationals, including those of European descent, Sephardic Jews, and settlers from other European countries such as Spain, Italy, and Malta, who were born in Algeria. From the French invasion in June 18, 1830, until attaining independence, Algeria formed three départements (Algiers, Oran and Constantine) and was considered a part of France. By independence, the "Pieds-Noirs" accounted for 1,025,000 people, or roughly 10 percent of the total population.Cite book | author=Cook, Bernard A. | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Europe since 1945: an encyclopedia | year=2001 | publisher=Garland | location=New York | isbn=0-8153-4057-5 | pages=pp. 398]

The "Pied-Noir" are known in reference to the Algerian War, which saw the deaths of 24,000 French Nationals and between 30,000 and 150,000 Algerians, with estimates varying due to differing statistical analyses. The war The Algerian War was fought by nationalist groups such as the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) against the colonial French government in response to political and economic inequalities as well as their perceived "alienation" from the French settlers. The conflict attributed to the fall of the French Fourth Republic and the repatriation of French Nationals to France.

After Algeria became independent in 1962, more than one million "Pied-Noir" settlers of French nationality returned to mainland France. Upon arriving, many felt ostracized by the public perception that they had caused the war and the political turmoil surrounding the collapse of the French Fourth Republic. Complicating the situation, the "Pieds-Noirs" felt that they could not return to Algeria because of the violence and resentment of the settlers and the native Algerians. In popular culture, the community is often represented as feeling removed from French culture while longing for Algeria. Thus, the recent history of the "pieds-noirs" has been imprinted with a theme of double alienation from both their native homeland and their adopted land.

Origin of the term

The origin of the term "Pieds-Noirs" is debated. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Pied-Noir" refers to "people of French origin living in Algeria during French rule, and to those who returned to Europe after the granting of independence in 1962."cite encyclopedia | title = pied noir | encyclopedia = Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition | volume = XI | pages =p. 799 | publisher = Clarendon Press | location= Oxford, United Kingdom | year = 1989 | isbn = 0198612230] Le Robert cites that from 1901 the word indicated a sailor working bare foot in the coal room of a ship, who would find his feet dirtied by the soot. In the Mediterranean, this was often an Algerian native, thus the term was used pejoratively for Algerians until 1955 when it first began referring to "French born in Algeria."cite encyclopedia | title = pied-noir | encyclopedia = Dictionnaire Historique de la langue francaise | volume = 2 | pages =p. 2728-9 | publisher = Dictionnaires le Robert | location= Paris, France | date = March, 2000 | isbn = 2850365615] This usage originated from mainland French as a negative nickname. Other theories focus on new settlers dirtying their clothing by working in swampy areas, or trampling grapes to make wine. [ [http://www.francparler.com/syntagme.php?id=337 Francparler.com. Origine de l'expression "pieds noirs".] ]


French invasion and settlement

European settlement began in the 1830s when France invaded Algeria. The invasion was instigated when the Dey of Algiers struck the French consul with a fly-swatter in 1827, although economic reasons are also cited. In 1830, the government of Charles X blockaded Algeria and an armada sailed to Algiers, followed by a land expedition. A complement of 34,000 soldiers landed on June 18, 1830, at Sidi Ferruch, convert|27|km|mi west of Algiers. Following a three-week campaign, the Dey Hussein capitulated on July 5, 1830, and was exiled.Cite book| publisher = Cambridge University Press| isbn = 0521779332| pages =pp. 585–600| last = Lapidus
first = Ira Marvin| title = A History of Islamic Societies| year = 2002|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=I3mVUEzm8xMC&pg=PA587&dq=french+colonization+of+algeria&sig=olbwUyyeWtum1HydVwdnwgHW4hk#PPA587,M1
] cite web |url=http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Algeria.pdf |title= Country Profile: Algeria|accessdate=2007-12-24 |author=Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Handbook |page=3 |year=2006 |work=Library of Congress, Federal Research Division |publisher=The Library of Congress|format=PDF]

In the 1830s, the French controlled only the northern part of the country. Entering the Oran region, they faced resistance from Emir Abd al-Kader, a leader of the Sufi Brotherhood.Cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=5mqlsUm193cC&pg=PA30&dq=french+invasion+of+algeria&lr=&ei=QLNpR-HDBIneiQG5gsl5&sig=V_OVFPba2K9j2CuPfiPugEv0ibY#PPA31,M1|publisher = Columbia University Press| isbn = 0231109113| pages =pp. 31–37| last = Stone| first = Martin| title = The Agony of Algeria| year = 1997] In 1839, al-Kader began a seven-year war by declaring jihad against the French. The French signed two peace treaties with al-Kader, but they were broken because of miscommunication between the military and the Parisian government. In response to the breaking of the second treaty, al-Kader drove the French to the coast. In reply, a force of nearly 100,000 troops marched to the Algerian countryside and forced al-Kader's surrender in 1847.cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=IANFAAAAIAAJ&dq=surrender+of+abdel+al+kader&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0|pages=pp. 270|last=Churchill|first=Charles Henry|title=The Life of Abdel Kader, Ex-sultan of the Arabs of Algeria|publisher=Chapman and Hall|year=1867] In 1848, Algeria was divided into three départements of France, Alger, Oran, and Constantine, thus becoming part of the French state.Cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=YHXBpzKjNCkC&pg=PA28&dq=french+colonization+of+algeria&lr=&sig=XEgw5LENQ7CJLGCq2PGd4GburhA| publisher = Polity| isbn = 0745635938| pages =p. 28| last = Milton-Edwards| first = Beverley| title = Contemporary Politics in the Middle East| year = 2006]

The French modeled their colonial system on their predecessors, the Ottomans, by co-opting local tribes. In 1843, the colonists began supervising through "Bureaux Arabes" operated by military officials with authority over particular domains.Cite book | author=Amselle, Jean-Loup | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Affirmative exclusion: cultural pluralism and the rule of custom in France | year=2003 | publisher=Cornell University Press | location=Ithaca, N.Y. | isbn=0-8014-8747-1 | pages=pp. 65–100] This system lasted until the 1880s and the rise of the French Third Republic, when colonization intensified. Large-scale expropriation of land began when land-speculation companies took advantage of government policy that required abandonment of native property. By the 20th century Europeans held "1,700,000 hectares and by 1940, 2,700,000 hectares, about 35 to 40 percent of the arable land of Algeria." Settlers came from all over the western Mediterranean region, particularly Italy, France, Spain, and Malta.

Relationship to mainland France and Muslim Algeria

The "Pied-Noir" relationship with France and Algeria was marked by alienation. The settlers considered themselves French,Cite book| publisher = Routledge| isbn = 0415289556| pages =pp. 520–30| last = Grenville| first = J. A. S.| title = A History of the World from the 20th to the 21st Century| year = 2005] but many of the "Pieds-Noirs" had a tenuous connection to mainland France, which 28 percent of them had never visited. The settlers encompassed a range of socioeconomic "strata", ranging from peasants to large landowners, the later of whom were referred to as "grand colons".Cite book| publisher = Lexington Books| isbn = 073911607X| pages =pp. 30–70| last = Kacowicz| first = Arie Marcelo| coauthors = Pawel Lutomski| title = Population Resettlement in International Conflicts: A Comparative Study
url=http://books.google.com/books?id=ovck_g0xwX0C&pg=PA52&dq=pied+noir+relationship+to+france&lr=&sig=RI86MXr3V_lnibA4kkxQzru68a8#PPA49,M1A| year = 2007

In Algeria, the Muslims were not considered French and did not share the same political or economic benefits. For example, the indigenous population did not own most of the settlements, farms, or businesses, although they numbered nearly 9 million (versus roughly one million "Pieds-Noirs") at independence. Politically, the Muslim Algerians had no representation in the Algerian National Assembly and wielded limited influence in local governance.Cite book | author=Kantowicz, Edward R. | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=Coming apart, coming together | year=2000 | publisher=W.B. Eerdmans | location=Grand Rapids, Mich. | isbn=0-8028-4456-1 | pages=p. 207] To obtain citizenship, they were required to renounce their Muslim identity. Since this would constitute apostasy, only about 2,500 Muslims acquired citizenship before 1930. The settlers' politically and economically dominant position worsened relations between the two groups.

Jewish community

Jews, specifically Sephardi Jews, were present in North Africa for centuries, many since the time when "Phoenicians and Hebrew, engaged in maritime commerce, founded Annaba, Tipasa, Caesarea, and Algiers."cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=HW8P_SnsQpMC&pg=PA528&dq=french+settlers+to+algeria&lr=&sig=jPefJ2Xtggx5R-jcWwRIm70fzw8#PPA524,M1 |title=Algeria, 1830-2000: A Short History|first=Benjamin|last=Stora|publisher=Cornell University Press|year= 2005|pages=p 12, 77|isbn= 0801489164] Others arrived following the Spanish Reconquista and more from Palestine after the First Jewish-Roman War (66–73 CE).Cite book | author=Goodman, Martin; Cohen, Jeremy; Sorkin, David Jan | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies | year=2005 | publisher=Oxford University Press | location=Oxford|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=4me0TRqPOB4C&pg=RA1-PA334&dq=jews+in+algeria+at+french+invasion&ei=vn4DSPbpB4jYyAStpO3MBQ&sig=BdpalujWpX_cUmJJF2QP82Hold0#PRA1-PA335,M1 | isbn=0-19-928032-0 | pages=pp. 330–40] In 1870, Justice Minister Adolphe Crémieux wrote a proposal, "décret Crémieux" ( _fr. The Crémieux decree), giving French citizenship to Algerian Jews. Thus, the Jews of Algeria came to be considered part of the "Pied-Noir" community. This advancement was resisted by part of the larger "Pieds-Noirs" community. In 1897 a wave of anti-semitic riots rolled through Algeria, and during World War Two the "The Crémieux decree" was abolished under the Vichy regime, and Jews were barred from professional jobs. Although citizenship was restored in 1943, many Jews fled the country in 1962 with the "Pieds-Noirs" after the Algerian War. [Cite book| publisher = Behrman House, Inc| isbn = 0940646382| last = Grobman| first = Alex| title = Genocide: Critical Issues of the Holocaust| year = 1983|pages=p. 132|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=uf1rdNyUwRQC&pg=PA132&dq=algeria+jews+vichy&sig=MYAAe-k-SHP4MT5h7M6ScRfT-Lw ]

Algerian War and exodus

Algerian War

For more than a century France maintained colonial rule in Algerian territory. Discontent among the native Algerians grew after the World Wars, in which the Algerians sustained many casualties. Algerian nationalists began efforts aimed at furthering equality by listing complaints in the "Manifesto of the Algerian People", which requested equal representation under the state and access to citizenship. The French response was to grant citizenship to 60,000 "meritorious" Algerians. During a reform effort in 1947, the French created a bicameral legislature with one house for the "Pieds-Noirs" and another for the Algerians but made a European's vote seven times more valuable than a native's. In response, paramilitary groups such as the Front de Libération nationale (FLN) appeared. This led to a war for independence, the Algerian War from 1954 until 1962, causing the relocation of roughly 900,000 Europeans and Jews.

At the onset of the war, the "Pieds-Noirs" believed the French military would be able to overcome opposition. However, in May 1958 the situation intensified after General Massu seized power in Algeria. As head of a junta, he demanded that Charles de Gaulle be named president of the French Fourth Republic to prevent the "abandonment of Algeria". This eventually led to the fall of the Republic. In response, the French Parliament voted 329 to 224 to place de Gaulle in power. Once de Gaulle assumed leadership, he attempted peace by visiting Algeria within three days of his appointment and by organizing a referendum for Algerian self-determination that passed overwhelmingly. "Pieds-Noirs" viewed this as betrayal and formed the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) and began attacking institutions representing the French state, Algerians, and de Gaulle himself. The OAS was also accused of murders and bombings nullifying reconciliation opportunities between the communities.Cite book | author=Meredith, Martin | authorlink= | coauthors= | title=The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence | date= | publisher=PublicAffairs | location= | isbn=1-58648-398-6 | pages=p. 74]

The bloodshed culminated in 1961 during an Algiers putsch of 1961, led by retired generals. After this failure, on March 18, 1962, de Gaulle and the FLN signed a cease-fire agreement, the Évian accords, and held a referendum. In July, the Algerians voted 5,975,581 to 16,534 to become independent of France.


The exodus began once it became clear that Algeria would become independent. In Algiers, it was reported that by May 1961 the "Pieds-Noirs' " morale had sunk because of violence and allegations that the entire community of French nationals had been responsible for "terrorism, torture, colonial racism, and ongoing violence in general" and because the group felt "rejected by the nation as "Pieds-Noirs" ".Cite book
publisher = Cornell University Press| isbn = 0801443601| pages = 304| last = Shepard| first = Todd| title = The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War And the Remaking of France| year = 2006|pages=pp. 213-240|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=Lr3vcmMtaNoC&pg=PA213&dq=pied+noir+exodus&sig=MDgweIzWMQPM5Q0G1vFHytnre_k#PPA221,M1
] These factors, the Oran Massacre, and the referendum for independence caused the "Pied-Noir" exodus to begin in earnest.

The number of "Pied-Noirs" who fled Algeria totaled more than one million between 1962 and 1964. Hurried, many "Pieds-Noirs" left only with what they could carry in a suitcase. Adding to the confusion, the de Gaulle government ordered the French Navy not to help with transportation of French citizens. By September 1962, cities like Oran, Bône, and Sidi-Bel-Abbès were half-empty. All administration, police, schools, justice, and commercial activities stopped within three months after many were told to choose either "la valise ou le cercueil" (the suitcase or the coffin). Only 100,000 "Pieds-Noirs" chose to remain, but they gradually left through the following decade, by the 1980s only a few thousand "Pieds-Noirs" remained in Algeria.

Flight to mainland France

The French government claimed that it had not anticipated that such a massive number would leave; it believed that perhaps 300,000 might choose to depart temporarily and that a large portion would return to Algeria. The administration had set aside funds for absorption of those they called "repatriates" to partly reimburse them for property losses . The administration avoided acknowledging the true numbers of refugees in order to avoid upsetting its Algeria policies. Consequently, few plans were made for their return, and, psychologically at least, many of the "Pieds-Noirs" were alienated from both Algeria and France.Cite book| publisher = University Press of Florida| isbn = 081303096X| pages =pp. 9-23, 14|last = Naylor| first = Phillip Chiviges| title = France and Algeria: A History of Decolonization and Transformation
year = 2000|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=ZMUb8R3Cs-MC&pg=PA9&dq=pied+noir+alienation&lr=&sig=IdPdA7lCaKyGLGKu9c-gVnSHxks

Many "Pieds-Noirs" settled in France, while others migrated to New Caledonia, Spain, Australia, North America, Israel, and South America.cite web |title= French migration to South Australia (1955-1971): What Alien Registration documents can tell us|accessdate=2007-12-25 |work=Vol. 2, Issue 2, August 2005 |publisher=Flinders University Languages |url=http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/deptlang/fulgor/volume2i2/papers/fulgor_v2i2_bouvet.htm] In France, many relocated to the south, which offered a climate similar to North Africa. The influx of new citizens affected the existing population by bolstering local economies; however, the newcomers also competed for jobs, which caused resentment. In some ways, the "Pieds-Noirs" were able to integrate well into the French community, relative to their Maghrebin and Muslim counterparts. [cite journal
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Decolonization Immigrations and the Social Origins of the Second Generation: The Case of North Africans in France
journal = International Migration Review
volume = 36
issue = 4
pages = 1169–93
publisher = Blackwell Synergy
location =
month = December | year = 2002
url = http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1747-7379.2002.tb00122.x
doi =
id =
accessdate = 2008-05-12
] Their resettlement was made easier by the economic boom of the 1960s. However, the ease of assimilation depended on socioeconomic class. Integration was easier for the upper classes, many of whom found the transformation less stressful than the lower classes, who were not prepared for reduced status. Many were surprised that they no longer were seen as superior; in fact, they were often treated as an "underclass or outsider-group". Also, many "Pieds-Noirs" contended that the money allocated by the government to assist in relocation and reimbursement was insufficient. Cite book| publisher = Indiana University Press| isbn = 025321856X| pages =pp. 4–37, 180| last = Smith| first = Andrea L.| title = Colonial Memory And Postcolonial Europe: Maltese Settlers in Algeria And France| year=2006|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=CbaLktQqv7QC&pg=PA4&dq=largest+migration+pied+noir&ei=iFCiR6ucDpG0yQTzgLXfBg&sig=v4ooIAf8-8mMco4LIg-dTBcRu7s#PPA31,M1]

Thus, the repatriated "Pieds-Noirs" frequently felt "disaffected" from French society. They also suffered from a sense of alienation stemming from the French government's changed position towards Algeria. Until independence, Algeria was legally a part of France; after independence many felt that they had been betrayed and were an "embarrassment" to their country or to blame for the war.Cite book|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=JaSALPJH0SgC&pg=PA122&lpg=PA122&dq=experience+of+returned+pied+noirs+repatriate&source=web&ots=HYlTosOJY0&sig=SJWbGQuEqU-LL3-LC7tiqh8oxyI#PPA122,M1|
publisher = Oxford University Press| isbn = 0198158750| pages =p. 189–99| last = Dine| first = Philip| title = Images of the Algerian War: French Fiction and Film, 1954-1992| year = 1994
] At times, the repatriates were stigmatized by assumptions that they had all been "grands colons" and were to blame for their misfortune. Conversely, the "Pieds-Noirs" felt unable to return to their birthplace, Algeria, because of the independence movement's violence. [ cite web |title= Grappling with ghosts:In its post-colonial era, France rethinks its identity.|accessdate=2007-12-25 |work=Monday, March 6, 2006 |publisher=In the Fray, Identity Magazine Group|url=http://www.inthefray.com/html/article.php?sid=1564]

Notable Pieds-Noirs

*Louis Althusser
*Jacques Attali
*Jean-Pierre Bacri
*Guy Bedos
*Patrick Bruel
*Albert Camus
*Marcel Cerdan
*Alain Chabat
*Hélène Cixous
*Étienne Daho
*Bertrand Delanoë
*Jacques Derrida
*Louis Franchet d'Espèrey
*Roger Hanin
*Edmond Jouhaud
*Marlène Jobert
*Alphonse Juin
*Enrico Macias
*Alain Mimoun
*Paul Quilès
*Emmanuel Roblès
*Yves Saint Laurent

ee also

*Torture during the Algerian War
*Battle of Algiers (1957)
*"The Battle of Algiers (film)"
* 1961 Alger putsch
*Nationalism and resistance in Algeria
*Oran massacre of 1962
*History of Algeria since 1962
*White Africans


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  • pied-noir — [ pjenwar ] n. • 1955; « Arabe d Algérie » 1917; « chauffeur de bateau indigène » 1901; de pied et noir ♦ Fam. Français d Algérie. Les pieds noirs rapatriés. Elle est pied noir. Adj. L accent pied noir. Des familles pieds noirs. On écrit rarement …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • pied noir — ⇒PIED( )NOIR, (PIED NOIR, PIED NOIR), subst. A. Vieilli. [P. réf. à l habitude des chauffeurs de bateaux algériens d être pieds nus dans la soute à charbon] Arabe d Algérie. (Ds ESNAULT, Notes compl. «Poilu», [1919] 1956 et BLOCHW. RUNK. 1971). B …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Pied-noir — Nicht muslimische Bevölkerungsgruppen in Algerien nach Départements (administrative Gliederungen von 1957). 0 % – 2 % …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pied-Noir — Pieds Noirs Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pieds Noirs (homonymie). Non musulmans en Algérie par département, selon le recensement de 1954 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pied noir — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pieds Noirs (homonymie). Le pied noir est une maladie cryptogamique qui provoque une nécrose du collet chez les Brassicacées, notamment le chou et le colza …   Wikipédia en Français

  • pied noir — /pee ay nwahr , pyay /; Fr. /pyay nwannrdd /, pl. pieds noirs /pee ayz nwahr , pyayz /; Fr. /pyay nwannrdd /. Often Disparaging. 1. an Algerian born French person. 2. formerly, a person of French origin living in French ruled Algeria. Also, pied… …   Universalium

  • pied noir — /pee ay nwahr , pyay /; Fr. /pyay nwannrdd /, pl. pieds noirs /pee ayz nwahr , pyayz /; Fr. /pyay nwannrdd /. Often Disparaging. 1. an Algerian born French person. 2. formerly, a person of French origin living in French ruled Algeria. Also, pied… …   Useful english dictionary

  • pied-noir — (Voz francesa.) ► sustantivo masculino femenino SOCIOLOGÍA Denominación con que se conoce a las personas argelinas de origen francés …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • pied-noir — n. et adj. Français originaire d Algérie …   Dictionnaire du Français argotique et populaire

  • pied noir —    (pyay NWAHR) [French: black foot] Under the former French rule of Algeria, a disparaging term for anyone of French origin living there. More recently, a French person born in Algeria …   Dictionary of foreign words and phrases

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