He pursued a career as a school teacher, but continued practicing the guitar. In 1961, Cheick Raymond was killed. That same year, the Algerian War of Independence was raging, and the situation became untenable for the French residents of Constantine. Gaston (Macias) went into exile in mainland France with his wife, Suzy, the daughter of Cheick Raymond.
Arriving in Paris, he decided to pursue a career in music. At first, he tried translating the maalouf numbers that he already knew into French. This was not very successful, and he developed a new French repertoire that he performed in cafés and cabarets.
He made his first recording in 1962 titled "Adieu mon pays," which he had composed on the boat to France. He appeared on French television and became an overnight sensation. This led to a first tour the following year. His daughter Jocya was also born that year.
In 1964, he was transformed into Enrico Macias and undertook a tour to Lebanon, Greece, and Turkey. He was performing his big hits such as Paris, tu m'as pris dans tes bras. From that time on, he toured throughout the world, recorded hit songs in Spanish and Italian, and met great success on every continent. His American debut at a sold-out Carnegie Hall took place on February 17, 1968.
He received a gold disc in 1976 for Mélissa, and was named Singer of Peace by UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim in 1980. In 1997, Kofi Annan named him Roving Ambassador for Peace and the Defence of Children.
After the cancellation of a proposed tour in Algeria in 2000, he wrote a book Mon Algérie, a love story of his feelings for his native land. In 2003, he put out a new album Oranges amères produced by his son, Jean-Claude Ghrenassia. He has a great song called "Enfant de Tous Pays".
He attempted again unsuccessfully to visit Algeria in November 2007 accompanying French president Nicolas Sarkozy, but was faced with fierce resistance from several Algerian organizations and individuals, including Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem, due to his support of Israel.