Léopold Sédar Senghor’s possessions – including military medals and jewellery – were to be sold in the city of Caen.
The current president of Senegal, Macky Sall, urged the culture minister and the embassy in Paris to hold discussions with the auctioneers.
Senghor led Senegal for 20 years after independence from France in 1960.
He was a distinguished poet who pioneered Négritude – an anti-colonialist movement that championed African cultures – alongside Martinican poet Aimé Cesairé while a student in Paris in the 1930s.
Senghor was politically a socialist. He also maintained close ties to France.
He retired to France with his French wife Colette near Caen, where he died in 2001.
Senghor’s belongings have been brought to auction by a private seller who has not been named.
Negotiations will now be held with state officials over the next few weeks, auctioneer Solène Laine told AFP news agency on Saturday, but if they fail to reach an agreement her firm says an auction will be held in December instead.