The French footballers' union, the UNFP, described Michel in a tweet as "a colossus of French football".
Born in the southern town of Aix-en-Provence, Michel played as a midfielder for Nantes and earned 58 international caps between 1967 and 1980.
He was a three-time winner of the French league title, taking over France's Olympic men's squad in 1982 and guiding them to the '84 gold medal in Los Angeles where they beat Brazil in the final.
He then took over the French side boasting the star midfielder Michel Platini.
That team had just won the European Championships under the management of Michel Hidalgo.
Following his time with France, Michel had a brief spell as coach of Paris Saint-Germain in the early 1990s, before managing a host of African teams.
He went to three further World Cups with Cameroon in 1994, Morocco in 1998 and then Côte d’Ivoire in 2006.
His last job managing was for several months with the Kenyan national team in 2012.