Mbathio Beye, a 21-year-old Senegalese student of marketing strategy in Paris was crowned Miss Black France on Saturday night.
Romy Niaba, a 22-year-old political science student of Ivory Coast descent, and Aissata Soumah, 23, a Guinean business student were the runners up.
But while it was all sparkles and smiles inside the Miss Black France studio, situated just off the Arc de Triomphe in the capital, angry protesters picketed the show outside.
One demonstrator told news station Radio France International: “Why should Asians and Africans come here and have more rights than us? This is why we’re demanding a Miss White France.”
Others claim the show goes against the secular ideals of the French republic.
Patrick Lozes, former director of the French Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), told Le Monde: “This contest is detrimental to the values of French society… These girls need to feel French, not black in French society.
“If I think that there are not enough black people in the most prestigious schools and companies, am I going to go create establishments exclusively reserved for blacks?”
But the contest’s founder, Frédéric Royer, says its aim is to “celebrate black beauty”, claiming the Miss France competition is not fully representative of French society.
“Black women are seldom seen on the front of magazines and in Paris, black models are employed a lot less than in London.”