Born on May 3, 1934 to an immigrant European Jewish couple who had settled in Egypt, Moustaki, whose real name was Giuseppe Mustacchi, penned some 300 songs, marked by their poetic and haunting quality.
"He died early in the morning at 6:00 a.m. after a long illness. He passed away peacefully," a friend said.
Moustaki's song "Milord" sung by Edith Piaf became a worldwide sensation.
The song recounted the feelings of a lowly "girl of the port" who falls in love with an elegantly attired Englishman she has crossed several times in the street but who has never noticed her.
Moustaki changed his name in honour of his idol, French singer Georges Brassens, after he moved to Paris in 1951.
His repertoire included songs in French, Italian, English, Greek, Portuguese, Arabic and Spanish.
Leading French stars sang his compositions including Yves Montand, Barbara, Dalida, Juliette Greco and Pia Colomba.
Among his hits were "Le Meteque" (1969), "Sarah", "Ma liberte", "Ma solitude", "Votre fille a vingt ans" and "La Dame Brune".
France’s culture minister Aurelie Filippetti led tributes today, declaring on twitter that
"Georges Moustaki has left us: there's a great sadness. He was an artist committed to humanist values."
"He was a troubadour, a great writer and poet. He left us sublime songs," said French singer and actress Line Renaud.
Moustaki stopped performing in 2011 following what he said were "irreversible” respiratory problems. He left Paris for the sunny southern city of Nice.
In his last interview to Nice Matin newspaper in February, he said: "I regret not being able to sing in my bathroom. But singing in public, no. I've done it all... I've witnessed magical moments."