The Cri-Cri is a popular homebuilt design developed in France by engineer and pilot Michel Colomban. Colomban became fascinated by small aircraft and hoped to create a tiny and economical plane with good performance and aerobatic capabilities. His goal was a very simple and lightweight construction using no more than a 20-hp engine powering an airframe carrying a 172 lb (78 kg) pilot and 22 lb (10 kg) of fuel. Colomban's initial study in the late 1950s suggested that a single seat aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 395 lb (180 kg) and a wing area of 43 ft² (4 m²) was feasible.
Over a decade later, Colomban returned to his pet project but was able to make several improvements due to advances in technology. He incorporated new more efficient low-drag airfoils, composite parts, and thinner sheet metal for the wing skin to reduce weight and wing area to just 33 ft² (3.1 m²). The new aircraft also adopted twin 8-hp Stihl chain-saw engines, like those used aboard ultralights, in place of the planned single 20-hp engine. The change not only made the aircraft lighter but also improved the efficiency of each engine's propeller. Construction of the first example took about 1,500 hours, and several structural load tests were conducted to prove its advanced design elements were safe.