France and Bulgaria


Political relations

France has traditionally enjoyed a positive reputation in Bulgaria. Bilateral relations, which drifted during the Communist era, took off again from January 1989, symbolized by President Mitterrand’s state visit and the breakfast that he had with several dissident intellectuals (including future President Jelev), an event which remains present in Bulgaria’s collective memory. Bilateral political dialogue grew deeper at the beginning of the 2000s with France’s support for Sofia’s double candidacy for the European Union and NATO, culminating in July 2008 with the signing of a strategic partnership agreement. The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2022 brought deeper relations.

French presence

Consular section at the Embassy in Sofia; consular agency in Varna
French community (August 2022): 1541 French nationals registered


President Macron received Prime Minister Borisov on 6 June 2017. The French President’s visit to Varna on 25 August 2017 was one of the first bilateral visits after he took office, during which he met with President Radev and Mr Borisov. He then met Mr Radev in Paris on 4 December 2017 and again on 23 January 2020 and 2 December 2021 on the sidelines of the European Parliament tribute to Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

Discussions are held frequently at Foreign and Europe Minister levels, including on the sidelines of European events. The Minister of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, visited Sofia on 21 December 2021. The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2022 also brought much contact.

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French Ambassador in Sofia: Joël Meyer (since November 2022)

Bulgarian Ambassador in Paris: appointment pending

Economic relations

Due to the COVID-19 crisis and economic situation, trade between our two countries has fallen by 9.6% since 2019 to €1.9 billion. France is Bulgaria’s eighth-largest trading partner, although much of our trade is carried out within companies.

In 2021, France was only Bulgaria’s eleventh-largest supplier, with a 2.9% market share. French exports, totalling €830.7 million, are made up primarily of transport equipment, chemicals, industrial machinery, food products and pharmaceuticals (including antibiotics). However, France remains Bulgaria’s sixth-largest customer, with imports of around €1 billion. France’s leading import from Bulgaria remains “textiles, clothes, leather and shoes”. The French market is a major outlet for Bulgarian exporters, especially for agricultural products (herbs and ducks and geese).

France’s economic presence includes some 150 companies, employing almost 10,000 people locally. France is the 13th-largest investor in Bulgaria. French foreign direct investment is gradually repositioning itself to focus on key sectors.
Bulgaria’s recovery and resilience plan is of interest to our companies, particularly in the energy, environment and sustainable agriculture fields.

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Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Cultural cooperation is a sector in which France has a positive image. Several events are now part of the Bulgarian cultural landscape including Museum Night, European Heritage Days and the Francofolies Festival in Blagoevgrad. The Bulgarian Ministry of Culture has close relations with the Louvre Museum and they are developing cooperation projects and collection exchanges. In 2022, two archaeological missions were supported by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs: a mission on Apollonia Pontica and a paleolithic mission. The Institut Français in Bulgaria ( has a satellite in Varna and can rely on a network of 8 Alliance Française branches.

Bulgaria has been a member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) since 1993. French remains the 4th most learned language despite a fall in learner numbers. Bulgaria has 32 French-Bulgarian bilingual sections, six of which have the FrancEducation label, as well as the Lycée Français Victor Hugo in Sofia and the Varna French International School. In higher education, there are several French-language courses (management, engineering, political science) and 10 universities are members of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie.
In 2021, almost 1,100 Bulgarian students were enrolled in French higher education, and almost 90 French students studied in Bulgarian universities under the Erasmus+ programme. France is therefore the seventh most popular destination for Bulgarian students after Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Turkey, Austria and Denmark.
France is Bulgaria’s leading European scientific partner. The Hubert Curien French-Bulgarian partnership “RILA” finances about 10 French joint research projects every year. In 2022, several cooperation projects were envisaged, in the fields of geothermal energy, medical robotics and blockchains.

Updated: February 2024