PARIS (AP) — French authorities are dismantling a major Gypsy camp in Paris, after warning nearly 100 people living there that their ramshackle homes would be cleared.

The residents of the encampment vanished the night before the police action Wednesday, despite offers of more permanent housing nearby.

Frederic Rose, of the Paris police department, said French social workers went to the camp ahead of the officers' arrival to tell them the settlement on public property was illegal and would be removed. Rose said it was the largest of several camps of Gypsies, or Roma, in Paris.

France, under then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, came under heated European Union criticism in 2010 for expelling more than 1,000 illegal Roma immigrants, a move seen as targeting an ethnic group. Action against Roma is now a sensitive issue.