Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, chairman of the French episcopal conference, said: "Abbe Pierre has gone to the Father. May God receive him now in the fullness of his love.
"Emmaus and Abbe Pierre's foundation will continue to act in his name, as precariousness and poor housing conditions continue to be of concern."
Emmaus International, founded in 1949, has 327 communities spread over 39 countries.
Abbe Pierre, born Henri Groues in Lyon, was ordained a priest in 1938. With the French resistance during World War II, he operated under several different names, saving thousands of lives of both Jews and the politically persecuted, helping them to escape to Switzerland or Algeria.