France has had a privileged relationship with African countries that dates back to the early colonial period. It is remarkable how little the relationship has changed since the days of colonialism in the late nineteenth century. Therefore, it is pertinent to emphasize continuity as the hallmark of the French Africa policy from President Charles De Gaulle to President Georges Pompidou (1969-74), President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1974-81) and even including President François Mitterrand when the Socialists came to power in 1981. This striking continuity is explained by the existence of a common culture concerning Africa shared by the French political elite in spite of its deep political cleavages between the right and the left that traditionally divide the elite. The common understanding of Africa’s significance to France explains the lack of real changes in the Africa policy when power changed hands from the right to the left in 1981. And basically it is the common perception held by the elite that explains the inability of the decision-makers to meet the challenges that the French Africa policy faced after the end of the Cold War.