The French colonized during the seventeenth century. France occupied the colony from August 1666 to March 1667. On 6 December 1677, the French destroyed the Dutch colony and claimed the entire island before restoring it to the Dutch by the first Treaty of Nijmegen on 10 August 1678. In 1751, they settled colonists on the island, but ceded it to Britain in the Treaty of Paris of 10 February 1763.

Most "of the settlers were French, and French influence became dominant." It was again a French colony from 2 June 1781 to 15 April 1793, nominally part of the Lucie département of France from 25 October 1797 to 19 April 1801, and once again a French colony from 30 June 1802 to 30 June 1803.

By the later 1790s, the white upper class on Trinidad "consisted mainly of French creoles," which created "a powerful French cultural influence in Trinidad. This was expressed not only in the widespread use of French patois...but also in the general population's enthusiasm for the Catholic tradition of Carnival." Sean Sheehan explains further that for "about a hundred years, the language spoken in Trinidad and Tobago was a pidgin form of French, which was basically French with Twi or Yoruba words included. Even today, there is a strong element of French in Trini, and in some rural areas, people speak a language that is closer to French than to English.