Entrepreneur Félix Marquardt, rapper Mokless and journalist Mouloud Achour launched a campaign dubbed “Barrez-Vous” (“get out” or “break free”) at the beginning of September.
In an editorial in left-leaning daily Libération, the trio told French young people that they lived “in a decaying and ultra-centralised country run by old men which is falling to bits one piece at a time.”
France, they said, is no longer in its golden age and the current generation will be the first to be worse-off than its parents. They added that country's economic policies are deliberately unfavourable to the young, meaning that one in four people under 35 is out of work.
Quitting France for better prospects abroad is not a new idea and there are large expatriate French populations abroad, notably London - which has some 400,000 French residents, attracted by a more liberal working environment and higher salaries.
But the “Barrez-vous” campaign is the first high-profile example of influential French citizens telling their compatriots they would be better off out of the country.
“A society that treats its young people like this is a society in decline,” they wrote, saying that emerging countries such as Brazil, Colombia, China and Senegal were places that had a genuine hope for the future.
“French youth, your salvation lies elsewhere. It’s not just about running away from a country with bleak economic prospects. It is about reinventing yourselves so that you can return rich in new experiences, full of the creativity and enthusiasm that flourishes today in the four corners of the world.”