Bulldozers have started to clear part of the makeshift Calais camp known as the "Jungle" after about 1,000 residents left the area.
Most migrants were said to have relocated to accommodation in refitted shipping containers but some moved their tents further inside the camp.
Authorities want to clear the area next to a motorway for security reasons.
Riot police have been overseeing the operation which seemed to be happening without incident.
The move is part of a new housing project in attempts to improve conditions in the camp, which is used by about 5,000 migrants and refugees.
The 125 converted containers are equipped with electricity, heating and bunk beds, and each one can accommodate 12 people.
Refusing to move
Officials had given between 1,000 and 1,500 residents until last Thursday to leave the area, but they were reportedly given a grace period until Monday.
But many migrants and refugees had refused to use the new accommodation and moved their temporary homes further inside the camp, despite poor living conditions.
Many reportedly feared they could be permanently trapped at the new camp, unable to continue their attempts to cross to the UK.
Some also expressed their unhappiness about leaving an area where they have established a community, and are concerned about their future treatment by the authorities.
"This (the container camp) is the same as a jail. It is not good," one resident told the BBC.
Volunteers helped residents to move their tents from the area in recent days.
French and British officials want to reduce the number of migrants in Calais and deter others from arriving in the hope of reaching the UK.