France has lost a "great friend" who had been recognised by the Cannes film festival early in his career, Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay said, hailing a "great director" who was a "European conscience".
"His life and his work were combined in the same heroic fight for freedom," she tweeted. "They should inspire us to e enlighten ourselves at a time when some of Europe's people are tempted to renounce what brings them together, the love of freedom."
Wajda's Man of Iron, a fictionalised account of the rise of the Solidarity trade union under the post-war communist regime, won the Golden Palm at Cannes in 1981.
"The uncontested master of Polish cinema, Andrzej Wajda was always a friend," former festival president Gilles Jacob told the AFP news agency. "He was a baroque filmmaker of a powerful lyricism. He was also the conscience of a whole people. He accompanied the somersaults of his country's history."
Wajda's second feature film Kanal, the first movie ever made about the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, won a prize at Cannes in 1957, while 2016's Afterimage was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and will represent Poland for the best director's Oscar this year.
Wajda was a "major political conscience, always in phase with Poland's history", National Cinema Centre president Frédérique Bredin said.