France has steadily increased its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region in recent years. However, a middle power projecting forces far away represents an anomaly for neorealism, which generally expects non-great power states to focus their limited resources on their regional neighbourhood. This article proposes a new neorealist framework to explain why middle powers sometimes intervene in distant regions and tests it on the French case. Such interventions are likely if four conditions are met. First, the middle power must live in a relatively safe neighbourhood. Second, the distant region of interest must be open to power projection. Third, this region must have a potential hegemon that threatens to overturn the local balance of power. Fourth, economic benefits must offset the middle power’s cost of projecting forces there. This study helps explain French policy in the Indo-Pacific, fills a gap in neorealist theorising, and contributes to the literature on middle-power behaviour.