Naming a brand as "French" in France means labeling it as a national icon, whatever is produced under this brand. Gauloises cigarettes are one of such iconic brands, though they have been produced in Spain since 2005.
Smoking Gauloises in France was considered patriotic for quite a long time and the one who smoked Gauloises should have supported French national values. During the two World Wars smoking was often described as "the soldier's breakfast". And French soldiers smoked Gauloises cigarettes, of course.
For quite a long time the promotional items of the brand said: "If you smoke Gauloises - you contribute to the national good". This was true to some extent, as a considerable proportion of the profits coming from the sales of Gauloises cigarettes went to Regie Francais Tabacs. This was a huge corporation in which the government of the country had its share. The corporation was responsible for the control over the tobacco products consuming in the country and the profits were spent on various beneficial projects.
Gauloises cigarettes are very popular not only in France. They are preferred by many smokers of European countries bordering France and in England especially. They have recently gained high popularity in the countries of the CIS, though Gauloises cigarettes can hardly be considered cheap.
Originally Gauloises cigarettes were unfiltered and very strong, made with Turkish and Syrian tobacco. Now they are filtered and called Gauloises Blondes (the original was black and there was a period when both versions were manufactured and offered, so the word “Blondes” was added to make a distinction).