I think the big question is are these French regular army, or Legionnaires? When Cuban mercenaries were cutting up rough in Africa, and the French deployed the Legion, the Cubans left skid marks, beating feet out of there.
However, since the French deployed regulars in Afghanistan, they have probably gotten a taste for it and want an opportunity to try out a more generous ROE, whacking al Qaeda with open orders.
Vive La France....Get Some!
As of January 13th, it is estimated that 400 French soldiers are on the ground in Mali.
* 21st Marine Infantry Regiment one company
* 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment one Armored platoon
* 2nd Marine Infantry Regiment one company
* 4th Special Forces Helicopter Regiment (French equivalent of the 160th SOAR)
* Miscellaneous ground Special Operations units
* Two companies from the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (part of the French Foreign Legion) are being readied for deployment
Most of them are French regulars, but I read somewhere there was a battalion of light armor Foreign Legion. Other Europeans are providing air transport and intelligence.