Despite the stability of the French population, migrations have to be reported that have modified and continue to slightly modify the distribution of the groupings.
Long before modern communication routes developed, relatively poor and over-populated countries sent a certain number of seasonal immigrants to lands rich in agricultural products and especially to urban centers. The main points of departure for internal immigration are: the Alps, especially Savoy; the Pyrenees, especially the Ariège Pyrenees; the Massif Central, especially Auvergne and Limousin; and, finally, Brittany. The point of greatest attraction has, for a long time, been Paris. At least since the seventeenth century we can see the Auvergne, water workers and coal dealers; the Savoiardi, porters and chimney sweeps; the Bretons, servants. Usually, in the winter months the mountaineers went down to the big cities, mostly going towards the capital; but very often it happened that they stayed there for several years and sometimes even settled there. The railways made it possible for a greater number of mountaineers to stop permanently in the cities; in Paris, more than anywhere else, the Savoiardi, the Auvergne, the Limousin and the Bretons are numerous. Not infrequently the immigrant, after having made a fortune, returns to his country, where he has a house built, which he lives only in the summer months: in this way, certain poor villages of Upper Limousin or the Alps have suddenly taken over an aspect of comfort.
According to Shoppingpicks.net, the depopulation of the countryside in the SO. from France attracted an immigration of Breton and Vendean peasants, who settled especially in southern Aquitaine. After the war, several refugees from the invaded area also remained in these countryside; and not a few Bretons, brought to the Beauce and the environs of Paris as reapers, tend to settle there permanently as tenants. There are exceptional cases in which internal migration attenuates density differences: usually it accentuates them, accelerating the depopulation of poor regions (mountains) and increasing urban centers.
Population exchanges with foreign countries do not have the same intensity and character in France as they do in neighboring countries, since they are relatively limited, and immigration far exceeds emigration: and it seems that this has always happened, for several centuries. Indeed, the attraction exercised by France continued even after it lost its political and artistic primacy; and the influx of foreigners increased in the century. XX: their number, which in 1906 exceeded one million, appears to be 2.5 million in 1926 (see also above in the paragraph: Demography).
In the departments of the SE. and in the mining area of Lorraine for a long time the manpower has been largely supplied by Italy; while the great port of Marseille attracts a fluctuating population of over 100,000 individuals, mainly workers, and the iron mines of the Briey basin, when they began to be exploited, were valued by foreign and especially Italian workers. Thus some industrial centers that have recently developed in the Alps, for the use of waterfalls, attract Italian workers: in Bellegarde (Ain) they stay only during the summer, when the greater flow of water from the Rhone the turbines. Recently, Italian agricultural immigration to the depopulated countryside of south-eastern France also began;
It is worthwhile to give here some data in particular on Italian immigration to France, which is not only remarkable for the intensity, but also for the high percentage of Italian emigrants, who make their home in the nearby stable nation. The census of Italians residing abroad, carried out in mid-1927, gave 962,593 Italians as residents in France (out of a total of 1,267,841 Italians residing in various European countries). The numerical survey of 1871 had given 83,300 Italians residing in France: therefore in just over fifty years there was an extraordinary increase of 1055%. This increase was naturally neither continuous nor regular, in relation to various factors, of interest to one or the other, or to both nations, and of which the official data that we possess cannot give an idea that in very general lines (especially for the period 1911-1927, during which the world war was fought). The survey of 1881 gave 240,733 Italians as residents in France; that of 1891, 295,741; that of 1901, 292,000; that of 1911, 419.234. Of the 962,593 Italians residing in France in mid-1927, 657,839 were males and 304,754 females. The consular districts that reported the greatest number of Italians were those of Paris (160,000), Marseille (152,000), Nice (140,000), Lyon (128,400), Toulouse (69,500), Nancy (69,000), Chambéry (65,000). The French cities in which the major nuclei of Italians resided were: Paris (110,000), Marseille (100,000), Nice (60,000), Lyon (40,000), Cannes (14,000), Antibes (10,000): but all these figures must be understood as large approximation, given the continuous movements of Italian emigrants from one region to another. From the same census of 1927, 38 Italian private primary schools with 3021 pupils were found to exist in France; 9 periodicals in Italian were published (6 weekly). In 1930 167,191 Italians went to France (111,252 in 1926, 56,783 in 1927, 49,351 in 1928, 51,001 in 1929).
Throughout the wine region of the S. and SO. reliance is placed on the Spaniards for the harvest period; but for about twenty years many of them have settled permanently in Lower Languedoc and Aquitaine, at first as rural workers and then as tenants. Among the neighboring countries to France, which, as is well understood, provide it with the largest number of immigrants, Belgium should also be mentioned. The commonality not only of language but also of customs with the northern population has long favored exchanges: every day the border is crossed by Belgian workers who go to work in the French mines and factories; while the Belgian agricultural labor is also highly sought after in areas with a large crop of cereals, at the time of the heaviest work and above all for the wheat harvest and for the beet harvest. After the war, many Belgian refugees never returned home, indeed there were those who, with their families, settled on French soil as tenants, and even bought land in Upper Normandy (especially in the department of the Lower Seine), in the Beauce and even in Aquitaine.
Of the distant countries, Poland supplies the largest number of immigrants: rural workers, who sometimes aspire to become tenants in the northern and central countryside, and miners who find work mainly in Lorraine. Since 1918 a current has been taking shape that comes from Czechoslovakia.
It should be borne in mind that in the large number of foreigners reported by the censuses in France, about one third are guests passing through, including citizens of all the major states, especially the British and Americans of the United States, who have been attracted by business. or who travel for pleasure. A higher percentage (perhaps 50%) includes visitors who stay a season, who return, we can say every year, and who are agricultural or industrial workers. Finally, a certain number is made up of those who, after having settled permanently in France with their family, or after having created one, by marriage contracted in the country, apply for naturalization. They are mainly Italians and Belgians, who thus increase the French population, especially in urban centers.
Although France cannot be counted among the countries of emigration, in some of its regions there has long been a trend towards temporary migration, which has pushed a number of French across the borders. Since the century XVI the presence of mountaineers from the French Alps was noted, not only in Paris and Lyon, but also in the cities of northern Italy and Spain where they were mostly porters. So some Ubaye natives went to Mexico as fashion shopkeepers, and now they occupy a neighborhood in the city; they repatriate, after having made a fortune, and build sumptuous houses in the midst of villages that were previously poor.
The permanence of the French population in Canada brought with it up to the century. XIX a movement of emigration not very important, fed almost exclusively by rural families, once well-off, who went in search of fortune in the wheat-sown plains of Manitoba.
Much more important, of course, is the current of emigration directed towards the French colonies. During the sec. XIX Algeria and Tunisia received a strong contingent of French colonists, not a few of whom came in crowds from Alsace and Lorraine, annexed by Germany in 1871. In North Africa at present there are about 800,000 French colonists from all over. parts of the country. However, the movement of emigration, which has slowed down at present, has not completely ceased. The other French colonies have a climate that does not allow the Whites to settle there permanently; the settlers are few in number and stay there with the constant desire to repatriate as soon as they have made a fortune; the officials, then, do not remain there for more than 3 consecutive years.