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French Republic Europe Paris 66,259,012 inhabitants 643,801 sq km 102.92 inhabitants/sq km euros (EUR) population evolution

Famous people from France

Here is a list of famous people from France. Curious if anybody from France made it our most famous people in the world list? Read the aformentioned article in order to find out.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Military Commander

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815, the first monarch of France bearing the title emperor since the reign of Charles the Fat. His legal reform, the Napoleonic Code, has been a major influence on many civil law jurisdictions worldwide, but he is best remembered for his role in the wars led against France by a series of coalitions, the so-called Napoleonic Wars. He established hegemony over most of continental Europe and sought to spread the ideals of the French Revolution, while consolidating an imperial monarchy which restored aspects of the deposed Ancien Régime. Due to his success in these wars, often against numerically superior enemies, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, and his campaigns are studied at military academies worldwide. Napoleon was born at Ajaccio in Corsica in a family of noble Italian ancestry which had settled in Corsica in the 16th century. He trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. He rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. He led a successful invasion of the Italian peninsula.

Louis XIV of France


Louis XIV, known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1643 until his death. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest of monarchs of major countries in European history. Louis began his personal rule of France in 1661 after the death of his chief minister, the Italian Cardinal Mazarin. An adherent of the theory of the divine right of kings, which advocates the divine origin of monarchical rule, Louis continued his predecessors' work of creating a centralized state governed from the capital. He sought to eliminate the remnants of feudalism persisting in parts of France and, by compelling many members of the nobility to inhabit his lavish Palace of Versailles, succeeded in pacifying the aristocracy, many members of which had participated in the Fronde rebellion during Louis's minority. By these means he became one of the most powerful French monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule in France that endured until the French Revolution. During Louis's reign, France was the leading European power and it fought three major wars: the Franco-Dutch War, the War of the League of Augsburg, and the War of the Spanish Succession. There were also two lesser conflicts: the War of Devolution and the War of the Reunions. Louis encouraged and benefited from the work of prominent political, military, and cultural figures such as Mazarin, Colbert, the Grand Condé, Turenne and Vauban, as well as Molière, Racine, Boileau, La Fontaine, Lully, Marais, Le Brun, Rigaud, Bossuet, Le Vau, Mansart, Charles and Claude Perrault, and Le Nôtre.

Marion Bartoli

Tennis Player

Marion Bartoli is a former French no. 1 professional tennis player. She won the 2013 Wimbledon Championships singles title after previously being runner-up in 2007, and was a semifinalist at the 2011 French Open. She also won seven Women's Tennis Association singles titles and three doubles titles. She announced her immediate retirement from professional tennis on 14 August 2013. Bartoli defeated three reigning world no. 1 players in her career: Justine Henin in the semifinal of the 2007 Wimbledon Championships, Jelena Janković in the fourth round of the 2009 Australian Open, and Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open. She also recorded wins over other top players such as Venus and Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Lindsay Davenport, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitová, Samantha Stosur, and Kim Clijsters. She was known for her unorthodox style of play using two hands on both her forehand and backhand. On 30 January 2012 she reached a career high ranking of no. 7 in the world; she returned to this ranking on 8 July 2013 after triumphing at Wimbledon. Bartoli reached at least the quarter-final stage at each of the four Grand Slams. Her win at Wimbledon made her the sixth player in the open era to win the Championships without dropping a set. She is also the only player to have ever played at both the WTA Tour Championships and the WTA Tournament of Champions in the same year, in 2011.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Tennis Player

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a French professional tennis player. He was born in Le Mans, to a French mother, Évelyne, and a Congolese father, Didier Tsonga, who moved to France in the 1970s to play handball. Tsonga is a member of the Tennis Club de Paris. His career-high singles ranking is World No. 5, which he achieved in February 2012. Tsonga rose to fame by virtue of his performance in the 2008 Australian Open when, as an unseeded player, he reached the final, having defeated four seeded players along the way, including earning a straight-sets win over the World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. Tsonga eventually lost to the World No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the final in four sets, after winning the first set, the only set Djokovic dropped during the tournament. Tsonga followed this up by winning his first ATP Masters Series championship at the 2008 Paris Masters, thus qualifying for the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China. His best performances in a major tournament since 2008 are semifinal appearances in the 2010 Australian Open, the 2013 French Open and at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2012. He also reached the final of the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals, where he lost to five-time and defending champion Roger Federer.



François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state. Voltaire was a versatile writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken advocate, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.

René Descartes


René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed The Father of Modern Philosophy, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his Meditations on First Philosophy continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes's influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system — allowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system — was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution and has been described as an example of genius. Descartes frequently sets his views apart from those of his predecessors. In the opening section of the Passions of the Soul, a treatise on the Early Modern version of what are now commonly called emotions, Descartes goes so far as to assert that he will write on this topic "as if no one had written on these matters before". Many elements of his philosophy have precedents in late Aristotelianism, the revived Stoicism of the 16th century, or in earlier philosophers like Augustine. In his natural philosophy, he differs from the schools on two major points: First, he rejects the splitting of corporeal substance into matter and form; second, he rejects any appeal to final ends—divine or natural—in explaining natural phenomena. In his theology, he insists on the absolute freedom of God's act of creation.

Nicolas Sarkozy


Nicolas Sarkozy is a French politician who served as the 23rd President of France from 16 May 2007 until 15 May 2012. Before his presidency, he was the leader of the Union for a Popular Movement. Under Jacques Chirac's presidency he served as Minister of the Interior in Jean-Pierre Raffarin's first two governments, then was appointed Minister of Finances in Raffarin's last government and again Minister of the Interior in Dominique de Villepin's government. Sarkozy was also president of the General council of the Hauts-de-Seine department from 2004 to 2007 and mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, one of the wealthiest communes of France, from 1983 to 2002. He was Minister of the Budget in the government of Édouard Balladur during François Mitterrand's last term. In foreign affairs, he promised a strengthening of the entente cordiale with the United Kingdom and closer cooperation with the United States. During his term, he faced the late-2000s financial crisis and the Arab Spring. He married Italian-French singer-songwriter Carla Bruni on 2 February 2008 at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

Charles de Gaulle

Military Commander

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first president from 1959 to 1969. De Gaulle came to the fore in the interwar army as a proponent of mobile armoured divisions. During World War II, he attained the rank of brigadier general. De Gaulle led the Free French Forces and a government in exile against France's pro-German Vichy government while he was in London and Africa, gained control of most French colonies, and participated in the liberation of Paris. Despite her initial defeat, de Gaulle insisted that France be treated as a great power by the other Allies. His promotion of French national interests led to confrontations with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as did his refusal to participate in the D-Day landings in June 1944. De Gaulle secured a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for France in 1945. After the war ended, de Gaulle became prime minister in the French Provisional Government, resigning in 1946 because of political conflicts. He founded his own political party, the Rally of the French People- Rassemblement du Peuple Francais, in 1947. When the Algerian war crisis was ripping apart the Fourth Republic, the Assembly brought him back to power as President of the Council of Ministers during the May 1958 crisis. De Gaulle led the writing of a new constitution founding the Fifth Republic, and was elected President of France. Gaullism, de Gaulle's foreign policy strategy as president, asserted that France is a major power and should not rely on other countries, such as the United States, for its national security and prosperity. Often criticized for his "Politics of Grandeur", de Gaulle oversaw the development of French atomic weapons and promoted a foreign policy independent of "Anglo Saxon" influences. He withdrew France from NATO military command—although remaining a member of the Western alliance—and twice vetoed Britain's entry into the European Community. In May 1968, he appeared likely to lose power amidst widespread protests by students and workers, but survived the crisis with an increased majority in the Assembly. However, de Gaulle resigned in 1969 after losing a referendum in which he proposed more decentralization.

Johnny Hallyday


Jean-Philippe Smet, known by his stage name Johnny Hallyday, is a French singer and actor. An icon in the French-speaking world since the beginning of his career, he was considered by some to have been the French Elvis Presley. He was married for 15 years to popular Bulgarian-French singer Sylvie Vartan and the two were considered a "golden couple" for 20 years. Hallyday has completed 181 tours, had 18 platinum albums, and has sold more than 110 million records. He announced his retirement from performing on 3 December 2007, saying that he would retire in 2009, after a farewell tour. However, Hallyday announced in March 2012 that he would perform in Los Angeles on 24 April, in Quebec City on 10 July and in New York City on 7 October. Hallyday remains largely unknown outside of France, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec, thus earning the nickname "the biggest rock star you've never heard of" in English-speaking countries. Nevertheless, at an international level he is still considered as the only non-Anglophone Rock’n Roller having a large international reputation. He was made Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur in 1997.

Sébastien Loeb


Sébastien Loeb is a French rally & racing driver. He competed for the Citroën World Rally Team in the World Rally Championship and is the most successful driver in WRC history, having won the world championship a record nine times in a row. He holds several other WRC records, including most wins, most podium finishes and most points. Loeb announced his retirement from World Rallying in the end of the 2012 season. Participating in selected events in the 2013 WRC season he will race a full season in FIA GT Series driving a Mclaren MP4-12c before moving on with Citroen to the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2014. Originally a gymnast, Loeb switched to rallying in 1995 and won the Junior World Rally Championship in 2001. Signed by the Citroën factory team for the 2002 season, he and co-driver Daniel Elena took their maiden WRC win that same year at the Rallye Deutschland. After finishing runner-up to Petter Solberg by one point in 2003, Loeb took his first drivers' title in 2004. Continuing with Citroën, he went on to take a record ninth consecutive world title in 2012. Loeb is a tarmac expert, having won all but three WRC rallies on that surface since 2005.

Roman Polanski

Film Director

Roman Polanski is a Polish-French film director, producer, writer, and actor. Having made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France and the United States, he is considered one of the few "truly international filmmakers." Polanski's films have inspired diverse directors, including the Coen brothers, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Atom Egoyan, Darren Aronofsky, Park Chan-wook, Abel Ferrara, and Wes Craven. Born in Paris to Polish parents, he moved with his family back to Poland in 1937, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. He survived the Holocaust and was educated in Poland and became a director of both art house and commercial films. Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water, made in Poland, was nominated for a United States Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but was beaten by Federico Fellini's 8½. He has since received five more Oscar nominations, along with two Baftas, four Césars, a Golden Globe Award and the Palme d'Or of the Cannes Film Festival in France. In the United Kingdom he directed three films, beginning with Repulsion. In 1968 he moved to the United States, and cemented his status by directing the horror film Rosemary's Baby for which Ruth Gordon won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.

Erik Satie

Opera Artist

Éric Alfred Leslie Satie was a French composer and pianist. Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd. An eccentric, Satie was introduced as a "gymnopedist" in 1887, shortly before writing his most famous compositions, the Gymnopédies. Later, he also referred to himself as a "phonometrician" preferring this designation to that of a "musician", after having been called "a clumsy but subtle technician" in a book on contemporary French composers published in 1911. In addition to his body of music, Satie also left a remarkable set of writings, having contributed work for a range of publications, from the dadaist 391 to the American culture chronicle Vanity Fair. Although in later life he prided himself on always publishing his work under his own name, in the late nineteenth century he appears to have used pseudonyms such as Virginie Lebeau and François de Paule in some of his published writings.

Gonzalo Higuaín


Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a striker for Napoli and the Argentina national football team. Nicknamed El Pipita or Pipa, as was his father, Higuaín was born in France, attaining Argentine citizenship in 2007, and now holding dual nationality. Able to play as a striker, Higuaín "is known for his speed in the last third of the pitch and his great striking ability."

Jean-Paul Sartre


Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism. His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines. Sartre has also been noted for his open relationship with the prominent feminist theorist Simone de Beauvoir. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature and refused it, saying that he always declined official honors and that "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution".

Joan of Arc

Military Leader

Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to a peasant family in north-east France. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France. She was captured by the Burgundians, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy", and was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old. Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is one of the patron saints of France, along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux. Joan said she had received visions from God instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and caused the lifting of the siege in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims.

Claude Monet

Painting Artist

Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise.

Alexandre Dumas


Alexandre Dumas, also known as Alexandre Dumas, père, was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure. Translated into nearly 100 languages, these have made him one of the most widely read French authors in history. Many of his novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later were originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier. Prolific in several genres, Dumas began his career by writing plays, which were successfully produced from the first. He also wrote numerous magazine articles and travel books; his published works totaled 100,000 pages. In the 1840s, Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris. His father, general Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, was born in Saint-Domingue to a French nobleman and a black slave woman. His aristocratic rank helped young Alexandre acquire work with Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.

Brigitte Bardot


Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot is a French former actress, singer and fashion model, now an animal rights activist. She was one of the best known sex symbols of the 1950s and '60s. Starting in 1969, Bardot's features became the official face of Marianne to represent the liberty of France. Bardot was an aspiring ballet dancer in early life. She started her acting career in 1952 and, after appearing in 16 obscure films, became world-famous in 1957 with the release of the controversial film And God Created Woman. She later starred in Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film Le Mépris. Bardot was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress for her role in Louis Malle's 1965 film Viva Maria!. Bardot caught the attention of French intellectuals. She was the subject of Simone de Beauvoir's 1959 essay, The Lolita Syndrome, which described Bardot as a "locomotive of women's history" and built upon existentialist themes to declare her the first and most liberated woman of post-war France. Bardot retired from the entertainment industry in 1973. During her career in show business, she starred in 47 films, performed in several musical shows, and recorded over 60 songs. She was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1985, but refused to receive it. After her retirement, Bardot established herself as an animal rights activist. During the 1990s, she generated controversy by criticizing immigration and Islam in France, and has been fined five times for inciting racial hatred.

Edward IV of England


Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was the first Yorkist King of England. The first half of his rule was marred by the violence associated with the Wars of the Roses, but he overcame the Lancastrian challenge to the throne at Tewkesbury in 1471 to reign in peace until his sudden death. Before becoming king he was 4th Duke of York, 7th Earl of March, 5th Earl of Cambridge and 9th Earl of Ulster. He was also the 65th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

William the Conqueror

Military Commander

William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. The descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035 under the style William II. After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son. William was the son of the unmarried Robert I, Duke of Normandy, by Robert's mistress Herleva. His illegitimate status and his youth caused some difficulties for him after he succeeded his father, as did the anarchy that plagued the first years of his rule. During his childhood and adolescence, members of the Norman aristocracy battled each other, both for control of the child duke and for their own ends. In 1047 William was able to quash a rebellion and begin to establish his authority over the duchy, a process that was not complete until about 1060. His marriage in the 1050s to Matilda of Flanders provided him with a powerful ally in the neighbouring county of Flanders. By the time of his marriage, William was able to arrange the appointments of his supporters as bishops and abbots in the Norman church. His consolidation of power allowed him to expand his horizons, and by 1062 William was able to secure control of the neighbouring county of Maine.

Georges Bizet

Opera Artist

Georges Bizet, registered at birth as Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer of the romantic era. Best known for his operas in a career cut short by his early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertory. During a brilliant student career at the Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. He was recognised as an outstanding pianist, though he chose not to capitalise on this skill and rarely performed in public. Returning to Paris after almost three years in Italy, he found that the main Parisian opera theatres preferred the established classical repertoire to the works of newcomers. His keyboard and orchestral compositions were likewise largely ignored; as a result, his career stalled, and he earned his living mainly by arranging and transcribing the music of others. Restless for success, he began many theatrical projects during the 1860s, most of which were abandoned. Neither of his two operas that reached the stage in this time—Les pêcheurs de perles and La jolie fille de Perth—were immediately successful.

Louis XVI of France


Louis XVI was King of France and Navarre from 1774 until 1791, after which he was subsequently King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before his deposition and execution during the French Revolution. His father, Louis, Dauphin of France, was the son and heir apparent of Louis XV of France. Due to the Dauphin's death in 1765, Louis succeeded his grandfather in 1774. The first part of Louis' reign was marked by attempts to reform France in accordance with Enlightenment ideals. These included efforts to abolish serfdom, remove the taille, and increase tolerance toward non-Catholics. The French nobility reacted to the proposed reforms with hostility, and successfully opposed their implementation; increased discontent among the common people ensued. From 1776 Louis XVI actively supported the North American colonists, who were seeking their independence from Great Britain, which was realized in the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The ensuing debt and financial crisis contributed to the unpopularity of the ancien régime which culminated at the Estates-General of 1789. Discontent among the members of France's middle and lower classes resulted in strengthened opposition to the French aristocracy and to the absolute monarchy, of which Louis and his queen Marie Antoinette were viewed as representative. In 1789, the Bastille was stormed during riots in Paris, and the French Revolution began.

Vanessa Paradis

Pop Artist

Vanessa Chantal Paradis, known as Vanessa Paradis, is a French singer, model and actress. She became a child star at 14 with the worldwide success of her single "Joe le taxi". Since 1991, Paradis has been a spokesmodel for Chanel. She was in a relationship with actor Johnny Depp from 1998 to 2012. Vanessa's sister, Alysson Paradis, is a French actress.

Jean Michel Jarre

Progressive rock Artist

Jean Michel André Jarre is a French composer, performer and music producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and New Age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks. Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and grandparents, and trained on the piano. From an early age he was introduced to a variety of art forms, including those of street performers, jazz musicians, and the artist Pierre Soulages. He played guitar in a band, but his musical style was perhaps most heavily influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, a pioneer of musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales. His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygène. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygène was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979 Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times. More albums were to follow, but his 1979 concert served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as well as a musician.

Gaël Monfils

Tennis Player

Gaël Sebastien Monfils is a French professional tennis player. Monfils is a former French No. 1, reaching a career-high singles ranking of World No. 7 and winning 4 singles titles. He was the runner-up at the Paris Masters in 2009 and 2010 and a semifinalist at the 2008 French Open.

Henri Matisse

Painting Artist

Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Although he was initially labelled a Fauve, by the 1920s he was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art.



Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best-known works are Le Misanthrope, L'École des Femmes, Tartuffe ou L'Imposteur, L'Avare, Le Malade Imaginaire, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont, Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped him polish his comic abilities while he began writing, combining Commedia dell'arte elements with the more refined French comedy. Through the patronage of a few aristocrats, including Philippe I, Duke of Orléans – the brother of Louis XIV – Molière procured a command performance before the King at the Louvre. Performing a classic play by Pierre Corneille and a farce of his own, Le Docteur Amoureux, Molière was granted the use of salle du Petit-Bourbon near the Louvre, a spacious room appointed for theatrical performances. Later, Molière was granted the use of the theatre in the Palais-Royal. In both locations he found success among the Parisians with plays such as Les Précieuses ridicules, L'École des Maris and L'École des Femmes. This royal favor brought a royal pension to his troupe and the title "Troupe du Roi". Molière continued as the official author of court entertainments.

Karim Benzema


Karim Mostafa Benzema is a French international footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid in La Liga. He primarily plays as a striker whose influence can extend out to the wings and is known for his technical ability, powerful style of play, and vast goal-scoring ability. He is described as an "immensely-talented striker" who is "strong and powerful" and "a potent finisher from inside the box". Benzema was born in the city of Lyon and began his football career with local club Bron Terraillon. In 1996, he joined the biggest club in the city Olympique Lyonnais and, subsequently, came through the club's youth academy. Benzema made his professional debut in the 2004–05 season and appeared sporadically in his first three seasons as Lyon won three titles in that span. In the 2007–08 season, Benzema became a starter and had a breakthrough year scoring over 30 goals as Lyon won its seventh straight league title. For his performances, he was named the National Union of Professional Footballers Ligue 1 Player of the Year and named to the organization's Team of the Year. Benzema was also the league's top scorer and given the Bravo Award by Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo. After another season at Lyon, in July 2009, Benzema signed a six-year contract with Spanish outfit Real Madrid. After struggling to establish himself in his debut season with the club, in the ensuing two seasons, Benzema reached prominence scoring 32 goals en route to helping Real Madrid win the Copa del Rey in 2011 and the 2011–12 edition of La Liga. He has been awarded French Player of the Year for his performances during the calendar year of 2011 respectively 2012.

Richard Clayderman

Instrumental Artist

Richard Clayderman is a French pianist who has released numerous albums including the compositions of Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint, instrumental renditions of popular music, rearrangements of movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and easy-listening arrangements of popular works of classical music.

Hector Berlioz

Opera Artist

Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts. Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works, and conducted several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. He also composed around 50 songs. His influence was critical for the further development of Romanticism, especially in composers like Richard Wagner, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and many others.

Yo-Yo Ma

Classical Artist

Yo-Yo Ma is an American cellist. He was a child prodigy and was performing by age five. He completed a Bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1976. He has played as a soloist with many major orchestras. His 75 albums have received fifteen Grammy Awards. Ma possesses a more eclectic repertoire than is typical for classical musicians. In addition to numerous recordings of the standard Classical repertoire, he has recorded American bluegrass music; traditional Chinese melodies; the tangos of Argentinian composer Ástor Piazzolla; Brazilian music; and an eclectic and unusual collaboration with Bobby McFerrin. Ma's primary performance instrument is a Montagnana cello built in 1733 valued at US$2.5 million. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2001, Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, and the Polar Music Prize in 2012.

Camille Saint-Saëns

Opera Artist

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, organist, conductor, and pianist of the Romantic era. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto No. 1, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3.

Henry IV of France


Henry IV, Henri-Quatre was King of Navarre from 1572 to 1610 and King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was the first French monarch of the House of Bourbon. Baptised as a Catholic but raised in the Protestant faith by his mother Jeanne d'Albret, Queen of Navarre, he inherited the throne of Navarre in 1572 on the death of his mother. As a Huguenot, Henry was involved in the French Wars of Religion, he barely escaped assassination at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, and he later led Protestant forces against the royal army. As a French "prince of the blood" by reason of his descent from King Louis IX, he ascended the throne of France upon the death of his childless cousin Henry III in 1589. In accepting the throne, he found it prudent to abjure his Calvinist faith. Regardless, his coronation was followed by a four-year war against the Catholic League to establish his legitimacy. As a pragmatic politician, he displayed an unusual religious tolerance for the time. Notably, he promulgated the Edict of Nantes in 1598, which guaranteed religious liberties to Protestants, thereby effectively ending the Wars of Religion. He was assassinated by François Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic, and was succeeded by his son Louis XIII.

Gérard Depardieu


Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu is a French actor, film-maker, businessman and vineyard owner. He is one of the most prolific character actors in film history, having completed approximately 170 movies since 1967. He has twice won the César Award for Best Actor as well as the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in Green Card. After he garnered huge critical acclaim for the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac, which landed him a nomination for an Academy Award, Depardieu acted in many big budget Hollywood movies. He is a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and Chevalier of the Ordre national du Mérite. He was granted citizenship of Russia in January 2013, made an honorary citizen of Belgium in August 2013, and the same year became a cultural ambassador of Montenegro.

Bob Sinclar


Bob Sinclar is a French record producer, house music DJ, remixer and the owner of the label Yellow Productions.

Amélie Mauresmo

Tennis Player

Amélie Simone Mauresmo; is a French former professional tennis player, and a former World No. 1. Mauresmo won two Grand Slam singles titles at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon, and also won a Silver Medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Mauresmo first attained the top ranking on 13 September 2004, holding it for five weeks on that occasion. She was the fifteenth World No. 1 in women's tennis since the computer rankings began. She is well known for her powerful one-handed backhand and strong net play. She officially announced her retirement from professional tennis on 3 December 2009, ending a career of fifteen years. She returned to Wimbledon in 2010, acting as a grass court advisor for Frenchman and 2007 Wimbledon doubles champion Michaël Llodra.

Richard Gasquet

Tennis Player

Richard Gasquet is a French tennis player. He won the mixed doubles Grand Slam title at the 2004 French Open, partnering with Tatiana Golovin. His career-high singles ranking is World No. 7, achieved in July 2007. His best achievements in tennis are reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2007 and the semifinals of the 2013 US Open. Gasquet is best known for his long winding groundstrokes and his one-handed backhand.

Philippe Gaumont

Professional Road Racing Cyclist

Philippe Gaumont was a French professional road racing cyclist. He was awarded a bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics, 100 km time trial. In 1997 he won the Belgian classic Gent–Wevelgem and he was twice individual pursuit French national champion, in 2000 and 2002. In 2004, Gaumont quit professional cycling and later ran a café in Amiens. Gaumont was well known for having confessed to extensive doping and explaining a lot of the tricks of the trade. Gaumont gave a series of interviews, and wrote a book, Prisonnier du dopage in which he explained doping methods, masking methods, the use of drug cocktails such as the pot belge for training and for recreation, and how the need to make money makes racers dope themselves. In April 2013 he suffered a major heart attack and was reported to be in a coma. On 13 May 2013, several news sources reported his death, but according to La Voix du Nord he remained in an artificial coma, though had suffered brain death. He died on 17 May 2013.

Adan Jodorowsky

Alternative rock Artist

Adán Jodorowsky or Adanowsky is a French musician and actor.

Antoine Busnois


Antoine Busnois was a Netherlandish composer and poet of the early Renaissance Burgundian School. While also noted as a composer of motets and other sacred music, he was one of the most renowned 15th-century composers of secular chansons. He was the leading figure of the late Burgundian school after the death of Guillaume Dufay.

Régine Pernoud


Régine Pernoud was a historian and medievalist. She received an award from the Académie française. She is known for writing extensively about Joan of Arc.

Guillaume Warmuz

Soccer Goalkeeper

Guillaume Warmuz is a French former football goalkeeper. He started his career at Olympique Marseille. He spent a season at L'OM without making any first team appearances. He then made a move to CS Louhans-Cuiseaux where he quickly established himself as first-choice goalkeeper. His performances there attracted the attention of another first division side, RC Lens, and he signed for them in 1992, eventually totalling 351 league appearances in an 11-year spell between the sticks. Warmuz left Lens on a free transfer in December 2002 and, the next month, signed a short-term contract with Arsenal, as cover for both David Seaman and the injured Rami Shaaban, but did not play any first-team matches. In July 2003, he joined Borussia Dortmund as a replacement for the Arsenal-bound Jens Lehmann, initially sharing goalkeeping duties with future first-choice Roman Weidenfeller. His last club was, since 2005–06, AS Monaco FC in Ligue 1, as on 27 May 2007 Warmuz announced his retirement from football on his personal website, after no league appearances in 2006–07.

Mélusine Mayance


Mélusine Mayance is a French child actress. She is best known for her role in the 2010 French-Language film "Sarah's Key", in which she portrayed the childhood version of the story's main character "Sarah Starzynski". Known in French as Elle s'appelait Sarah, the historical fiction film is set in 1942 France, in the midst of the second world war. Mélusine's character is a young Jewish child whose family is rounded up and arrested in downtown Paris during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup before being sent to Auschwitz for extermination. Mayance rose to success while starring in films such as Vive Les Vacances! and Ricky in which she plays the half-sister of an infant boy who grows a pair of wings.

Hélène Florent


Hélène Florent is an actress.

Diacko Fofana


Diacko Fofana is a French football player who plays for French club Nice in Ligue 1. He primarily plays as a right back. Fofana previously played in the youth academies of professional clubs Le Havre and Caen before signing with Nice in July 2011. On 28 January 2012, he made his professional debut in a 1–0 defeat to Montpellier. Fofana started the match, but was substituted out after 60 minutes.

André Marcon


André Marcon is a French actor. In 1980 he starred in Le Voyage en douce under director Michel Deville.

Laurent Brunet


Laurent Brunet is a French César Award-winning cinematographer for Seraphine by Martin Provost. He is widely known for his work on the films of Raphael Nadjari. Brunet shot all five of Raphael Nadjari's feature films as well as Amos Gitai's Free Zone and Keren Yedaya's Or as well as Christophe Honoré's La Belle Personne.

Charles Dumoulin

Deceased Person

Charles Dumoulin was a French jurist.

Grégory Saint-Géniès

Skeleton racer

Grégory Saint-Géniès is a French skeleton racer who has competed since 2002. His best World Cup finish was 18th in the men's event twice. Saint-Géniès' best finish at the FIBT World Championships was 16th in the men's event at St. Moritz in 2007. He competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics where he finished 15th.

Vincent Macaigne

Award Nominee

Vincent Macaigne is an actor.

Blaise Pascal


Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method. In 1642, while still a teenager, he started some pioneering work on calculating machines. After three years of effort and fifty prototypes, he invented the mechanical calculator. He built 20 of these machines in the following ten years. Pascal was an important mathematician, helping create two major new areas of research: he wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of 16, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. Following Galileo and Torricelli, in 1646 he refuted Aristotle's followers who insisted that nature abhors a vacuum. Pascal's results caused many disputes before being accepted.

Arsène Wenger


Arsène Wenger, OBE, is a French football manager who is in charge of English Premier League side Arsenal. He is the club's longest-serving manager and most successful in terms of major titles won, having led Arsenal to 11 trophies since 1996. Football pundits give Wenger credit for his contribution to the revolutionising of football in England in the late 1990s through the introduction of changes in the training and diet of players. Wenger was born in Strasbourg and raised in Duttlenheim. He was introduced to football by his father, the manager of the local village team. After a modest playing career, in which he made appearances for several amateur clubs, Wenger obtained a manager's diploma in 1981. Following an unsuccessful period at Nancy which culminated in his dismissal in 1987, Wenger joined AS Monaco; the club won the league championship in 1988. In 1991, Wenger guided Monaco to victory in the Coupe de France, but their failure to regain the league title in later seasons led to his departure from the club by mutual consent in 1994. He briefly coached Japanese J. League side Nagoya Grampus Eight, which won the Emperor's Cup and Japanese Super Cup during his stint.

Émile Zola


Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola was a French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J'accuse. Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.



Michel de Nostredame, usually Latinised as Nostradamus, was a French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. He is best known for his book Les Propheties, the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Since the publication of this book, which has rarely been out of print since his death, Nostradamus has attracted a following that, along with much of the popular press, credits him with predicting many major world events. Most academic sources maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus's quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power. Nevertheless, occasional commentators have successfully used a process of free interpretation and determined 'twisting' of his words to predict an apparently imminent event. In 1867, three years before it happened, for example, Le Pelletier did so to anticipate either the triumph or the defeat of Napoleon III in a war that, in the event, begged to be identified as the Franco-Prussian war, while admitting that he could not specify either which or when.

André the Giant


André René Roussimoff, best known as André the Giant, was a French professional wrestler and actor. His best-remembered acting role was that of Fezzik, the giant in the film The Princess Bride. His size was a result of gigantism and led to his being called "The Eighth Wonder of the World". In the World Wrestling Federation, Roussimoff was a one-time WWF Champion and a one-time WWF World Tag Team Champion. In 1993, André was the inaugural inductee into the WWF Hall of Fame.

Louis Pasteur


Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist who is well known for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases, and his discoveries have saved countless lives ever since. He reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. His medical discoveries provided direct support for the germ theory of disease and its application in clinical medicine. He is best known to the general public for his invention of the technique of treating milk and wine to stop bacterial contamination, a process now called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of bacteriology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch, and is popularly known as the "father of microbiology". Pasteur also made significant discoveries in chemistry, most notably on the molecular basis for the asymmetry of certain crystals and racemization. He was the Director of the Pasteur Institute, established in 1887, till his death, and his body lies beneath the institute in a vault covered in depictions of his accomplishments in Byzantine mosaics.

John Calvin


John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he published the first edition of his seminal work Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536. In that year, Calvin was recruited by William Farel to help reform the church in Geneva. The city council resisted the implementation of Calvin's and Farel's ideas, and both men were expelled. At the invitation of Martin Bucer, Calvin proceeded to Strasbourg, where he became the minister of a church of French refugees. He continued to support the reform movement in Geneva, and was eventually invited back to lead its church. Following his return, Calvin introduced new forms of church government and liturgy, despite the opposition of several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority. During this period, Michael Servetus, a Spaniard known for his heretical views, arrived in Geneva. He was denounced by Calvin and executed by the city council. Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin's opponents were forced out. Calvin spent his final years promoting the Reformation both in Geneva and throughout Europe.

Cardinal Richelieu


Armand Jean du Plessis, cardinal-duc de Richelieu et de Fronsac was a French clergyman, noble and statesman. Consecrated as a bishop in 1608, he later entered politics, becoming a Secretary of State in 1616. Richelieu soon rose in both the Catholic Church and the French government, becoming a Cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII's chief minister in 1624. He remained in office until his death in 1642; he was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin, whose career he had fostered. The Cardinal de Richelieu was often known by the title of the King's "Chief Minister" or "First Minister". As a result, he is considered to be the world's first Prime Minister, in the modern sense of the term. He sought to consolidate royal power and crush domestic factions. By restraining the power of the nobility, he transformed France into a strong, centralized state. His chief foreign policy objective was to check the power of the Austro-Spanish Habsburg dynasty, and to ensure French dominance in the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe. Although he was a cardinal, he did not hesitate to make alliances with Protestant rulers in attempting to achieve his goals. Richelieu was also famous for his patronage of the arts; most notably, he founded the Académie Française, the learned society responsible for matters pertaining to the French language. Richelieu is also known by the sobriquet l'Éminence rouge, from the red shade of a cardinal's clerical dress and the style "eminence" as a cardinal.

Paul Cézanne

Painting Artist

Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th-century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. Both Matisse and Picasso are said to have remarked that Cézanne "is the father of us all." Cézanne's often repetitive, exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognizable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields. The paintings convey Cézanne's intense study of his subjects.

Gilles Simon

Tennis Player

Gilles Simon is a French professional tennis player and a former World No. 6. He is a 11-time winner on the ATP World Tour.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Painting Artist

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that "Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau." Pierre-Auguste was the father of actor Pierre Renoir, filmmaker Jean Renoir and ceramic artist Claude Renoir. He was the grandfather of the filmmaker Claude Renoir, son of Pierre.

Marine Le Pen


Marine Le Pen is a French political leader, who is a lawyer by profession, a French politician and the president of the Front National, the third-largest political party in France, since 16 January 2011. She is the youngest daughter of the French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, former president of the FN and currently its honorary chairman. She is the aunt of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. She joined the FN in 1986, its Executive Committee in 2000 and was a vice-president of the FN for eight years. She currently is an ex officio member of the FN Executive Office, Executive Committee and Central Committee. She has been a regional councillor since 1998, a Member of the European Parliament since 2004 and was a municipal councillor in Hénin-Beaumont, Pas-de-Calais for three years. In 2010, she was a candidate for the leadership of the FN set up by Jean-Marie Le Pen on 5 October 1972. She successfully succeeded him during the FN congress in Tours, Indre-et-Loire. On 16 January 2011, she was elected with 67.65% as the second president of the Front National.

Catherine Deneuve


Catherine Deneuve is a French actress. She gained recognition for her portrayal of aloof and mysterious beauties in films such as Repulsion and Belle de jour. Deneuve was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her performance in Indochine; she also won César Awards for that film and The Last Metro. She has appeared in seven English-language films, most notably the 1983 cult classic The Hunger. In 2008, she appeared in her 100th film, Un conte de Noël.

Marcel Duchamp

Painting Artist

Marcel Duchamp was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Dadaism and conceptual art, although not directly associated with Dada groups. Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Duchamp has had an immense impact on twentieth-century and twenty first-century art. By World War I, he had rejected the work of many of his fellow artists as "retinal" art, intended only to please the eye. Instead, Duchamp wanted to put art back in the service of the mind.

Christian Louboutin

Fashion Designer

Christian Louboutin is a French footwear designer whose footwear has incorporated shiny, red-lacquered soles that have become his signature.


Pop Artist

Alizée Jacotey is a French recording artist, known professionally as Alizée, a registered name referring to the trade winds. Born and raised in Ajaccio, Corsica. She is considered one of the top "100 Sexiest Women in the World" by FHM magazine, and being an influential figure in music. Critics have praised her diverse musical productions which have also been known to cause controversy. She was discovered by Mylène Farmer, following her winning performance in the talent show, Graines de Star, in 1999. While collaborating with Mylène Farmer and Laurent Boutonnat, she followed it with a series of albums that attained immense popularity by pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music and imagery in her music videos, which became a fixture on NRJ, Europe 1, MTV, Virgin, and many others. Throughout her career, many of her songs have been in top 25 hit lists on the record charts, including "Moi... Lolita", "L'Alizé", "J'en ai marre!" "Gourmandises", "Mademoiselle Juliette", her cover version of "La Isla Bonita", "Parler Tout Bas", "Les collines" and "À cause de l'automne". According to the IFPI and SNEP, Alizée is one of the best-selling female French artist of the 21st century also is the singer with most exports out of France. Alizée entered the music business in 2000. She has since released five studio albums, the first two of which were composed by Laurent Boutonnat and written by Mylène Farmer. Her first album was Gourmandises, which received Platinum certification within three months of release. After its international launch in 2001, Gourmandises was a success both in France and abroad, earning Alizée the distinction of being the highest selling female French singer in 2001. The album featured her most successful single "Moi... Lolita" which reached number one in several countries in Europe and East Asia, in the UK the song was acclaimed by the New Musical Express who recognised it with a "Single of the Week" award. It became a rare example of a foreign-language song to chart highly in the UK, peaking at number 9.



Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Age of Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He did more than any other author to secure the place of the word despotism in the political lexicon, and may have been partly responsible for the popularization of the terms feudalism and Byzantine Empire.

Jacques Chirac


Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988, and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995. After completing his DEA degree at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, a term at Harvard University and the École nationale d'administration, Chirac began his career as a high-level civil servant, and soon entered politics. He subsequently occupied various senior positions, including Minister of Agriculture, Minister of the Interior, Prime Minister, Mayor of Paris, and finally President of the French Republic. Chirac's internal policies included lower tax rates, the removal of price controls, strong punishment for crime and terrorism, and business privatisation. He also argued for more socially responsible economic policies, and was elected in 1995 after campaigning on a platform of healing the "social rift". After less statist policy when he was Prime Minister, he changed his method. Then, his economic policies, based on dirigisme, state-directed ideals, stood in opposition to the laissez-faire policies of the United Kingdom, which Chirac famously described as "Anglo-Saxon ultraliberalism". Chirac is the second-longest serving President of France, after François Mitterrand. As President, he also served as an ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra and Grand Master of the French Légion d'honneur.

Yannick Noah

Tennis Player

Yannick Noah is a former professional tennis player from France. He is best remembered for winning the French Open in 1983 and as a highly successful captain of France's Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams. During his career, which spanned almost two decades, Noah captured a total of 23 singles titles and 16 doubles titles, reaching a career-high singles ranking of World No. 3 and attaining the World No. 1 doubles ranking the following month. Since his retirement from the game, Noah has remained in the public eye as a very popular music performer and as the co-founder, with his mother, of a charity organization for underprivileged children. Noah is also the father of Joakim Noah of the NBA Chicago Bulls.

Arthur Rimbaud


Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was a French poet born in Charleville, Ardennes. As part of the decadent movement, he influenced modern literature and arts, inspired various musicians, and prefigured surrealism. All of his poetry was written as a teenager; he gave up creative writing completely before he turned 20. His "genius, its flowering, explosion and sudden extinction, still astonishes". Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and a restless soul. He travelled extensively on three continents before his death from cancer just after his 37th birthday.

Giuseppe Garibaldi


Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian general and politician. He is considered, with Camillo Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II and Giuseppe Mazzini, as one of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland". Garibaldi was a central figure in the Italian Risorgimento, since he personally commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led eventually to the formation of a unified Italy. He was appointed general by the provisional government of Milan in 1848, General of the Roman Republic in 1849 by the Minister of War, and led the Expedition of the Thousand on behalf and with the consent of Victor Emmanuel II. He has been called the "Hero of Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises in Brazil, Uruguay and Europe. These earned him a considerable reputation in Italy and abroad, aided by exceptional international media coverage at the time. Many of the greatest intellectuals of his time, such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and George Sand showered him with admiration. The United Kingdom and the United States helped him a great deal, offering him financial and military support in difficult circumstances. In the popular telling of his story, he is associated with the red shirts worn by his volunteers in lieu of a uniform.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck


Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck, often known simply as Lamarck, was a French naturalist. He was a soldier, biologist, academic, and an early proponent of the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws. He gave the term biology a broader meaning by coining the term for special sciences, chemistry, meteorology, geology, and botany-zoology. Lamarck fought in the Pomeranian War with Prussia, and was awarded a commission for bravery on the battlefield. At his post in Monaco, Lamarck became interested in natural history and resolved to study medicine. He retired from the army after being injured in 1766, and returned to his medical studies. Lamarck developed a particular interest in botany, and later, after he published a three-volume work Flore française, he gained membership of the French Academy of Sciences in 1779. Lamarck became involved in the Jardin des Plantes and was appointed to the Chair of Botany in 1788. When the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle was founded in 1793, Lamarck was appointed as a professor of zoology. In 1801, he published Système des animaux sans vertèbres, a major work on the classification of invertebrates, a term he coined. In an 1802 publication, he became one of the first to use the term biology in its modern sense. Lamarck continued his work as a premier authority on invertebrate zoology. He is remembered, at least in malacology, as a taxonomist of considerable stature.

Émile Durkheim


David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology. Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in modernity; an era in which traditional social and religious ties are no longer assumed, and in which new social institutions have come into being. His first major sociological work was The Division of Labor in Society. In 1895, he published his Rules of the Sociological Method and set up the first European department of sociology, becoming France's first professor of sociology. In 1898, he established the journal L'Année Sociologique. Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide, a study of suicide rates in Catholic and Protestant populations, pioneered modern social research and served to distinguish social science from psychology and political philosophy. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life presented a theory of religion, comparing the social and cultural lives of aboriginal and modern societies.

Maximilien de Robespierre


Maximilien François Marie Isidore Robespierre was a French lawyer and politician, and one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the Estates-General, the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he advocated against the death penalty and for the abolition of slavery, while supporting equality of rights, universal suffrage and the establishment of a republic. He opposed war with Austria and the possibility of a coup by the Marquis de Lafayette. As a member of the Committee of Public Safety, he was an important figure during the period of the Revolution commonly known as the Reign of Terror, which ended a few months after his arrest and execution in July 1794. Influenced by 18th-century Enlightenment philosophes such as Rousseau and Montesquieu, he was a capable articulator of the beliefs of the left-wing bourgeoisie. His supporters called him "The Incorruptible", while his adversaries called him dictateur sanguinaire. His reputation has gone through cycles. It peaked in the 1920s when the influential French historian Albert Mathiez rejected the common view of Robespierre as demagogic, dictatorial, and fanatical. Mathiez argued he was an eloquent spokesman for the poor and oppressed, an enemy of royalist intrigues, a vigilant adversary of dishonest and corrupt politicians, a guardian of the French Republic, an intrepid leader of the French Revolutionary government, and a prophet of a socially responsible state. In recent decades his reputation has suffered from his association with radical purification of politics by the killing of his enemies.

François Mitterrand


François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of France and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the first figure from the left elected President under the Fifth Republic. Reflecting family influences, Mitterrand started political life on the Catholic nationalist right. He served under the Vichy Regime in its earlier years. Subsequently, however, he joined the Resistance, moved to the left, and held ministerial office repeatedly under the Fourth Republic. He opposed de Gaulle's establishment of the Fifth Republic. Although at times a politically isolated figure, Mitterrand outmanoeuvred rivals to become the left's standard bearer in every presidential election from 1965 to 1988, except 1969. Elected President in the May 1981 presidential election, he was re-elected in 1988 and held office until 1995. Mitterrand invited the Communist Party into his first government, a controversial move at the time. In the event, the Communists were boxed in as junior partners and, rather than taking advantage, saw their support erode. They left the cabinet in 1984. Early in his first term, Mitterrand followed a radical economic program, including nationalization of key firms, but after two years, with the economy in crisis, he reversed course. His foreign and defense policies built on those of his Gaullist predecessors. His partnership with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl advanced European integration via the Maastricht Treaty, but he accepted German reunification only reluctantly. During his time in office he was a strong promoter of culture and implemented a range of costly "Grands Projets". He was twice forced by the loss of a parliamentary majority into "cohabitation governments" with conservative cabinets led, respectively, by Jacques Chirac, and Édouard Balladur. Less than eight months after leaving office, Mitterrand died from the prostate cancer he had successfully concealed for most of his presidency.

Jean-Luc Godard


Hans Lucas was a pseudonym used by Jean-Luc Godard when writing criticism during the 1950s for André Bazin's magazine Cahier du Cinéma, as well as for the magazine Godard founded during this time, Gazette du Cinéma. The name Hans Lucas was also used in the credits of the 1955 film Une femme coquette. Godard produced, directed, and acted in the film as Jean-Luc Godard, but wrote the screenplay, photographed and edited under the name Hans Lucas.

Henry II of England


Henry II, also known as Henry Curtmantle, Henry FitzEmpress or Henry Plantagenet, ruled as Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Count of Nantes, King of England and Lord of Ireland; at various times, he also controlled Wales, Scotland and Brittany. Henry was the son of Geoffrey of Anjou and Matilda, who was the daughter of King Henry I and took the title of Empress from her first marriage. He became actively involved by the age of 14 in his mother's efforts to claim the throne of England, and was made the Duke of Normandy at 17. He inherited Anjou in 1151 and shortly afterwards married Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose marriage to King Louis VII of France had recently been annulled. Stephen, King of England agreed to a peace treaty after Henry's military expedition to England in 1153: Henry inherited the kingdom on Stephen's death a year later. Henry was an energetic and sometimes ruthless ruler, driven by a desire to restore the lands and privileges of his royal grandfather, Henry I. During the early years of the younger Henry's reign he restored the royal administration in England, re-established hegemony over Wales and gained full control over his lands in Anjou, Maine and Touraine. Henry's desire to reform the relationship with the Church led to conflict with his former friend Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This controversy lasted for much of the 1160s and resulted in Becket's death in 1170. Henry soon came into conflict with Louis VII and the two rulers fought what has been termed a "cold war" over several decades. Henry expanded his empire, often at Louis' expense, taking Brittany and pushing east into central France and south into Toulouse; despite numerous peace conferences and treaties no lasting agreement was reached. By 1172, he controlled England, large parts of Wales, the eastern half of Ireland and the western half of France, an area that would later come to be called the Angevin Empire.

Michaël Llodra

Tennis Player

Michaël Llodra is a French professional tennis player. He is a prolific doubles player with three Grand Slam championships and an Olympic Silver medal, and has also had success in singles, winning five career titles and gaining victories over Novak Djokovic, Juan Martín del Potro, Tomáš Berdych, Robin Söderling, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Nikolay Davydenko, Janko Tipsarević and John Isner. Llodra has been called "the best volleyer on tour" and is one of the few remaining practitioners of the classic serve-and-volley style of playing.

Édouard Manet

Painting Artist

Édouard Manet was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern and postmodern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, engendered great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art.

David Trezeguet


David Sergio Trezeguet is a World Cup-winning French footballer of Argentine descent who plays for Newell's Old Boys in the Argentine Primera Division. Trezeguet began his career with Club Atlético Platense at the age of eight, progressing through their youth system to their first team, where he made his debut in the Primera División in 1994. He finished his career with the club having made five league appearances before transferring to French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco, where he would form a striking partnership with international teammate Thierry Henry. Trezeguet spent some time with Monaco B, the club's reserve-team, in order to gain match practice, having made just nine league appearances in total for the club's first team during his first two seasons. Monaco were crowned champions of the 1996–97 season and qualified for the 1997–98 UEFA Champions League, where Trezeguet scored four goals in nine appearances. Trezeguet scored 18 goals in 27 Ligue 1 appearances in the 1997–98 season, finishing as the league's second leading goal scorer. Trezeguet left the club in 2000, having scored 52 goals in 93 Ligue 1 appearances and having claimed two Ligue 1 championships and the 1997 Trophée des champions.

Gabriel Fauré

Opera Artist

Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Although his best-known and most accessible compositions are generally his earlier ones, Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a harmonically and melodically much more complex style. Fauré was born into a cultured but not especially musical family. His talent became clear when he was a small boy. At the age of nine, he was sent to a music college in Paris, where he was trained to be a church organist and choirmaster. Among his teachers was Camille Saint-Saëns, who became a lifelong friend. After graduating from the college in 1865, Fauré earned a modest living as an organist and teacher, leaving him little time for composition. When he became successful in his middle age, holding the important posts of organist of the Église de la Madeleine and director of the Paris Conservatoire, he still lacked time for composing; he retreated to the countryside in the summer holidays to concentrate on composition. By his last years, Fauré was recognised in France as the leading French composer of his day. An unprecedented national musical tribute was held for him in Paris in 1922, headed by the president of the French Republic. Outside France, Fauré's music took decades to become widely accepted, except in Britain, where he had many admirers during his lifetime.

Carlos Gardel

Tango Artist

Carlos Gardel was a singer, songwriter, composer and actor, and is perhaps the most prominent figure in the history of tango. The unerring musicality of Gardel's baritone voice and the dramatic phrasing of his lyrics made miniature masterpieces of his hundreds of three-minute tango recordings. Together with lyricist and long-time collaborator Alfredo Le Pera, Gardel wrote several classic tangos. Gardel died in an airplane crash at the height of his career, becoming an archetypal tragic hero mourned throughout Latin America. For many, Gardel embodies the soul of the tango style. He is commonly referred to as "Carlitos", "El Zorzal", "The King of Tango", "El Mago", "El Morocho del Abasto", and "El Mudo".

Edgar Degas

Painting Artist

Edgar Degas; born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas; was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. He was a superb draftsman, and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation. At the beginning of his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.

Renée Deneuve


Renée Deneuve is an actress.

Marc Fayolle


Marc Fayolle was an actor.