Captain Peter Gordon, 84, and his wife Abbie, 74, died after a lorry smashed into the side of their car near their home in the Dordogne region on Thursday afternoon.
The couple, who moved abroad 25 years ago after living for decades in Gorebridge, were killed instantly after the car was thrown more than 20 metres.
Today, Captain Gordon's sister, Fay Samuel, who lives in Barnton, said her "charming" brother would be sadly missed.
The 82-year-old said: "He was a much-loved man who had many friends who have been saddened by his death."
Lifelong friend Ian Sutherland, based in London, added: "He was very keen on racing cars and went all over Scotland with the likes of Jim Clark. He had many medals and pictures."
Captain Gordon's daughter, Caroline, has travelled to France to start making funeral arrangements. His other four children were Peter, Neil, Eve and Edward.
An investigation into the crash is currently under way.