In the early 19th century, a man named Charles Fanaye and his lover Marie-Hélène sought to wed in Southern France. He was a former Napoleonic soldier, back from the Campaign in Egypt. She was an Ethiopian woman who had rescued him from the Mameluks and followed him to France. Like many other interracial couples, Charles and Marie-Hélène begged for an exception to the 1803 decree that banned marriage between blacks and whites. It was only after 16 years, when the ban was silently lifted in 1819, that they could finally marry. A (long) paper by Jennifer Heuer on the arbitrary definitions of race in post-Revolutionary France and on "the persistence of certain couples in legitimizing their bonds".
Secret information concerning the Black American Troops. We must prevent the rise of any pronounced degree of intimacy between French officers and black officers. We may be courteous and amiable with these last, but we cannot deal with them on the same plane as with the white American officers without deeply wounding the latter. In August 1918, the French liaison officer at the American Expeditionary Force Headquarters gave his fellow officers a primer in US-style racial segregation, urging the military and civil authorities to implement similar procedures on French soil, as the local populations were felt by US authorities to be much too friendly towards American Black troops (PDF, page 13) (see also the first chapter of Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light). This memorandum, however, was never distributed and other similar leaflets were eventually destroyed by the French government. One soldier of the 93rd Division wrote his mother: These French people don't bother with no color line business. They treat us so good that the only time I ever know I'm colored is when I look in the glass.