Famous French Men

The French man is stylish, sophisticated and loves to smoke! These are the stereotypes that people from other countries associate with the French male. The French’s passion and romance is well known, so is their obsession with cigars and cigarettes. But what people often overlook is that the French man also belongs to the classy, intelligent and cultured breed of men. Apart from having women the world over swoon over them, it should be mentioned that French men have played a pivotal role in world history. On a serious note, France has been the center of western cultural development from centuries, and the influence of French men on the world of fine arts is immeasurable. While artists like Jean Fouquet, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir revolutionized the art of painting, two Frenchmen, Auguste and Louis Lumière introduced the world to the concept of cinema, a new medium they had created.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh.
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: March 30, 1853
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zundert, Netherlands
Died: July 29, 1890

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter and is said to be one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. However, he was not commercially successful in his lifetime and died by suicide at 37 after years of mental health issues and poverty. He gained recognition and respect in the 20th century.

 2 Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte.
Famous As: Emperor of the French
Birthdate: August 15, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ajaccio
Died: May 5, 1821
French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte ruled as the French emperor from 1804 to 1814 and again in 1815. He strengthened France’s position in Europe through the Napoleonic Wars and extended his kingdom. However, he was eventually defeated by the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo and sent to exile. 
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 3 André the Giant

André the Giant.
Famous As: Professional Wrestler
Birthdate: May 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Coulommiers, Seine-et-Marne
Died: January 27, 1993

André the Giant was one of the most popular French wrestlers ever to appear in WWF. He stood over seven feet tall due to a condition aptly called gigantism, but used his condition to gain popularity. Also an actor, André the Giant continues to be one of the most recognizable faces in the world, several years after his death.

 4 Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane.
Famous As: Football Player
Birthdate: June 23, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: La Castellane, Marseille, France

Amongst the greatest footballers of all time, Zinedine Zidane led France to victories in the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000. Later, the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year took up the position of Real Madrid manager and carved yet another success story by winning major titles like Champions League and UEFA Super Cups.

 5 William the Conqueror

William the Conqueror.
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: 1028 AD
Birthplace: Falaise, France
Died: September 9, 1087

William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England who ruled from 1066 to 1087. William's conquest had a profound impact on England; his government merged elements of the Norman and English systems that laid the foundations of the medieval English kingdom. He is credited with building castles, mottes, and keeps, including the White Tower and Tower of London.

 6 Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry.
Famous As: French football Coach
Birthdate: August 17, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Les Ulis, Essonne, France

A football coach, Thierry Henry began his career as a player with Monaco team and later also played for Arsenal and Barcelona. A lethal striker, he became a record goal scorer for both France and Arsenal. He played a crucial role in the French victory in 1998 FIFA World Cup and Arsenal’s win in Premier League and the FA Cup.

 7 Voltaire

Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 21, 1694
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 30, 1778
18th-century historian, author, philosopher, and advocate of freedom of speech Voltaire was a leading figure of the French Age of Enlightenment. He often ran into trouble for his criticism of the French nobility and the Roman Catholic Church. He once went to Britain on voluntary exile, fearing imprisonment in France.
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 8 René Déscartes

René Déscartes.
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher and Writer
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: La Haye en Touraine, Touraine, France
Died: February 11, 1650
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the Cartesian coordinate system being named after him. His Meditations on First Philosophy is still taught at many universities.

 9 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, & Composer
Birthdate: June 28, 1712
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: July 2, 1778

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, composer, and writer. His political philosophy influenced aspects of the French Revolution. He also helped develop modern economic, political, and educational thought. His writing inspired a transformation in French drama and poetry. His works also influenced such writers around the world as Tolstoy. His works as a composer were acknowledged by composers like Mozart.

 10 Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo.
Famous As: Novelist & Poet
Birthdate: February 26, 1802
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: May 22, 1885

Victor Hugo was a French poet, dramatist, and novelist of the Romantic movement. Regarded as one of the best-known and greatest French writers of all time, Victor Hugo wrote abundantly during his career that spanned over six decades. Thanks to his works, such as Hernani and Cromwell, Victor Hugo was one of the leading figures of the Romantic literary movement.

 11 Claude Monet

Claude Monet.
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: November 14, 1840
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 5, 1926

Claude Monet was a French painter. The founder of French Impressionist painting, Monet's painting Impression, soleil levant gave rise to the term Impressionism. Often dubbed the driving force behind Impressionism, Monet mastered the art of painting the same scene several times so as to capture the changing of the light. Since his death, his paintings have sold for record prices.

 12 Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle.
Famous As: Former President of France
Birthdate: November 22, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lille, France
Died: November 9, 1970

Charles de Gaulle was a French statesman and army officer. Charles de Gaulle fought against Nazi Germany in the Second World War by leading the Free French Forces. He also worked towards re-establishing democracy in France. He founded the Fifth Republic, France's current republican system, and rewrote the Constitution of France. He then served as the president of France.

 13 Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur.
Famous As: Chemist and Microbiologist
Birthdate: December 27, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dole, Jura, Franche-Comté, France
Died: September 28, 1895
Considered one of the founders of bacteriology, Louis Pasteur created vaccines for anthrax and rabies, and invented the process of heating food and wine to kill microbes that cause contamination, which was named pasteurization after him. Known as the “father of microbiology,” he also founded the Pasteur Institute in Paris.  

 14 Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas.
Birthdate: July 24, 1802
Sun Sign: Leo
Died: December 5, 1870

One of the most widely read French authors of all time, Alexandre Dumas was prolific in several genres. He joined the army as a young man and later became a full-time writer. Starting his writing career as a playwright, he moved on to writing novels. His novels have been adapted into nearly 200 films in the past century.

 15 Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault.
Famous As: French philosopher
Birthdate: October 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Poitiers
Died: June 25, 1984

If others thought the body was the prison of the soul, Paul-Michel Foucault felt the other way round. The French philosopher, literary critic and Leftist who interpreted the link between power and knowledge, was a post-structuralist whose theories have left a mark on anthropology, psychology and criminology. The feminist was one of the noted personalities to have died of HIV/AIDS.

 16 Henry IV of France

Henry IV of France.
Famous As: King of France, King of Navarre
Birthdate: December 13, 1553
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Died: May 14, 1610

Henry IV of France reigned as the King of France from 2 August 1589 until his death on 14 May 1610. Remembered for his concern about the welfare of the people of France, Henry worked to eliminate corruption, promote agriculture, encourage education, and regularize state finance. The character of Ferdinand in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost was loosely based on Henry.

 17 Jules Verne

Jules Verne.
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 8, 1828
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nantes
Died: March 24, 1905
French author Jules Verne, also known as the “Father of Science Fiction,” is best remembered for his legendary adventure novels Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He also became the world’s second most-translated writer since 1979.

 18 Albert Camus

Albert Camus.
Famous As: Philosopher & Novelist
Birthdate: November 7, 1913
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Drean, Algeria
Died: January 4, 1960

Albert Camus was a French philosopher and the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. His philosophical views contributed to the rise of absurdism, a philosophical concept. Also a prolific writer, Albert Camus had an illustrious literary career; most of his philosophical essays and novels are still influential.

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 19 Tony Parker

Tony Parker.
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: May 17, 1982
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bruges

Tony Parker is a French-American former basketball player. During his playing career, he helped the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA win four NBA championships. He currently plays a major role in France's professional basketball league 'LNB Pro A' where he owns one of the league's team, ASVEL Basket. Also a philanthropist, Parker serves as the ambassador for Make-A-Wish France.

 20 Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona.
Famous As: Actor & Football Player
Birthdate: May 24, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Marseille

Eric Cantona is a French actor, filmmaker, and former football player. During his playing career, Cantona was a key player for the popular football club Manchester United and is often credited with reviving the club's reputation as a footballing force. Nicknamed King Eric by Manchester United fans, Eric Cantona continues to enjoy an iconic status within the club.

 21 Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre.
Famous As: Philosopher, Novelist
Birthdate: June 21, 1905
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 15, 1980

Jean-Paul Sartre was a French philosopher, writer, literary critic, and political activist. One of the most important personalities in the philosophy of phenomenology and existentialism, Sartre played a crucial role in 20th-century French philosophy. His work continues to influence literary studies, post-colonial theory, sociology, and critical theory. He was honored with the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature.

 22 Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy.
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 22, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died: March 25, 1918

Claude Debussy was a French composer whose career spanned over 30 years. Regarded as one of the most influential composers of his generation, Claude Debussy's works have influenced several other composers, such as Bill Evans, George Benjamin, Olivier Messiaen, and Béla Bartók. Claude Debussy is also regarded as the first Impressionist composer, though he rejected the term.

 23 John Calvin

John Calvin.
Famous As: Protestant Reformer, Theologian, Pastor
Birthdate: July 10, 1509
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Noyon, France
Died: May 27, 1564

French theologian, pastor, and reformer John Calvin was a major figure during the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. He was influential 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 to embrace Protestantism. As an apologetic writer, he generated much controversy.

 24 Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal.
Famous As: French Mathematician, Physicist, Inventor, Writer and Catholic Philosopher
Birthdate: June 19, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Clermont-Ferrand,, Auvergne, France
Died: August 19, 1662

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. A child prodigy, Pascal's work on projective geometry, at the age of 16 is commendable. He is one of the earliest inventors of the mechanical calculator, which he did when he was still a teenager. His work on probability theory influenced the development of social science and modern economics.

 25 Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse.
Famous As: Painter, Sculptor
Birthdate: December 31, 1869
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord
Died: November 3, 1954

Henri Matisse was a French artist. Although he was known for his skills as a painter, Matisse was also a renowned sculptor, printmaker, and draughtsman. Along with Picasso, Matisse is regarded as one of the artists who contributed immensely to the revolutionary developments in visual arts. His works also influenced other painters who would adopt a technique called intense colorism.

 26 Benjamin Millepied

Benjamin Millepied.
Famous As: Ballet Dancer, Choreographer
Birthdate: June 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bordeaux
French dancer Benjamin Millepied was initially associated with the New York City Ballet. He launched the LA Dance Project and was the director of dance at the Paris Opera Ballet. He gained fame as the choreographer of the iconic movie Black Swan, and later married its lead actor, Natalie Portman.

 27 Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau.
Famous As: French Explorer
Birthdate: June 11, 1910
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint-André-de-Cubzac
Died: June 25, 1997

Jacques Cousteau was a French explorer, naval officer, filmmaker, conservationist, scientist, photographer, researcher, and author. Renowned for his exploration of various forms of life in water, Jacques Cousteau is credited with pioneering marine conservation and co-developing the Aqua-Lung, the first underwater breathing apparatus to achieve popularity and commercial success.

 28 Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappé.
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: December 20, 1998
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bondy

Regarded as one of the best footballers of the current generation, Kylian Mbappé became only the second teenager to score a goal in the final game of a World Cup. Known for his explosive speed and dribbling skills, Mbappé made an impact at a young age. Very mature for his age, he also believes in giving back to society.

 29 Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV of France.
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: September 5, 1638
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died: September 1, 1715

Louis XIV of France reigned as the King of France from 1643 to 1715. Louis XIV is the longest-reigning monarch of a sovereign country in the history of Europe. Under his rule, France often asserted its military prowess and emerged as the most dominant European monarchy. His life inspired several films, such as The Taking of Power by Louis XIV.

 30 Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma.
Famous As: Cellist
Birthdate: October 7, 1955
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
French-born Chinese cellist Yo-Yo Ma was a child prodigy and later won 18 Grammys for his works. The Juilliard and Harvard alumnus has experimented with various types of music, including Brazilian and Chinese music. Named to Time 100 in 2020, he is also a U.N. Messenger of Peace.

 31 Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba.
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: March 15, 1993
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lagny-sur-Marne, Seine-et-Marne

Paul Pogba is a prominent football player for the English club Manchester United; in 2016 he was transferred from Juventus to Manchester United for a then-world record transfer fee of £89.3 million, which remains the highest paid fee by any English club. Also an important member of the France national team, he helped France win the 2018 World Cup.

 32 Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann.
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: March 21, 1991
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mâcon

Antoine Griezmann is a French football player. A key member of the France national team, Antoine Griezmann helped his team win the 2018 FIFA World Cup by scoring a goal and assisting another in France's 4-2 win against Croatia. Also an esports enthusiast, Griezmann launched an esports organisation called Grizi Esport in 2020.

 33 Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin.
Famous As: Artist - Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Engraving
Birthdate: June 7, 1848
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris
Died: May 8, 1903
French Post-Impressionist artist, sculptor, and writer Paul Gauguin was a major figure in the Symbolist movement. He had worked as a stockbroker and businessman before gaining fame as an artist. He influenced the French avant-garde and modern artists such as Pablo Picasso and also led the way for Primitivism.

 34 Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier.
Famous As: Architect
Birthdate: October 6, 1887
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: La Chaux-de-Fonds
Died: August 27, 1965

Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French designer, painter, architect, writer, and urban planner. He was one of the pioneers of modern architecture. During his illustrious career, which spanned 50 years, Le Corbusier designed buildings in India, Japan, Europe, and North and South America. He is also credited with revolutionizing urban planning.  

 35 Montesquieu

Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 18, 1689
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Château de la Brède, La Brède, Aquitaine, France
Died: February 10, 1755

French Enlightenment political philosopher, historian, judge, and man of letters Montesquieu remains the main source of the separation of powers system that is followed in many constitutions across the globe. His treatise The Spirit of the Laws on political theory greatly influenced work of many others, including drafting of the U.S. Constitution by the founding fathers of the United States.

 36 Francis II of France

Francis II of France.
Famous As: King of France
Birthdate: January 19, 1544
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Fontainebleau
Died: December 5, 1560
Francis II, son of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici, reigned as the king of France from 1559 to 1560. He took over the throne at age 15, after his father’s death. His reign witnessed conflicts between the Protestants and the Catholics, including coups such as the Amboise Conspiracy.

 37 N'Golo Kante

N'Golo Kante
Famous As: Association football player
Birthdate: March 29, 1991
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France

 38 Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust.
Famous As: Novelist & Critic
Birthdate: July 10, 1871
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Neuilly-Auteuil-Passy, France
Died: November 18, 1922

Marcel Proust was a French novelist, essayist, and critic best known for writing the world-renowned novel In Search of Lost Time, which was published between 1913 and 1927 in seven parts. Many writers and critics regard him as one of the 20th century's most influential and important authors.

 39 Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud.
Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: September 30, 1986
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chambéry

Olivier Giroud is a football player and a prominent member of the France national team. He played a key role in helping his team win the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Thanks to his popularity, Giroud has been a major media personality in France, with appearances in commercials for brands like Hugo Boss and Puma.

 40 Philippe Petit

Philippe Petit.
Famous As: French Tightrope Walker
Birthdate: August 13, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nemours, France
French high-wire artist Philippe Petit made headlines when he walked between the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1971. He has also walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and between the WTC Twin Towers of New York City. He inspired the film The Walk and a documentary, too.

 41 Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne.
Famous As: French artist
Birthdate: January 19, 1839
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aix-en-Provence
Died: October 22, 1906

French artist Paul Cézanne was a prominent Post-Impressionist painter and influenced much of the early-20th-century movement known as Cubism. Some of his notable works include The Card Players, The Bathers, and Pyramid of Skulls. He experimented with water colors and had created a host of still-life paintings.

 42 Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault.
Famous As: Chairman & CEO of LMVH
Birthdate: March 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Roubaix

Bernard Arnault is a French businessman and chairman of the luxury-goods company LVMH. Also an art collector, Arnault played a key role in establishing LVMH as a patron of art. In 2006, he sponsored the construction of an art museum called Louis Vuitton Foundation. He also created a competition called The LVMH Young Fashion Designer to students from fine-arts schools.

 43 Henry II of England

Henry II of England.
Famous As: King of England
Birthdate: March 5, 1133
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Mans, France
Died: July 6, 1189

Henry II of England reigned as the king of England from 1154 to 1189. During his long rule, Henry introduced many changes that had severe long-term consequences. Some of his legal changes are believed to have laid the foundation for English Common Law. Henry is often portrayed in films and plays; he has been played by actors like Peter O'Toole.

 44 Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier.
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 26, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 8, 1794

Antoine Lavoisier was a French chemist and nobleman. He played a crucial role during the chemical revolution of the 18th-century. Widely regarded as the father of modern chemistry, Lavoisier had a major influence on the history of biology as well as the history of chemistry. He also helped build the metric system. 

 45 Nostradamus

Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: December 14, 1503
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Died: July 2, 1566

Nostradamus was a French physician, astrologer, and respected seer whose book Les Prophéties is viewed as a document that predicts future events. Since the publication of the book, Nostradamus has been praised for his accurate predictions of major world events. His life has been the subject of several films and hundreds of books.

 46 Oswald Mosley

Oswald Mosley.
Famous As: British Politician
Birthdate: November 16, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mayfair, London
Died: December 3, 1980
Named by BBC History as the “worst” historical British person of the 20th century, Oswald Mosley started off as an MP in the 1920s. He was part of the Conservative Party and then the Labour Party. He then formed the British Union of Fascists and the United Kingdom New Party

 47 Marquis de Lafayette

Marquis de Lafayette.
Famous As: French Aristocrat and Military Leader
Birthdate: September 6, 1757
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chavaniac, France
Died: May 20, 1834

Marquis de Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer, who  is remembered for fighting in the American Revolutionary War, as the commander of American troops in several battles. After returning to France, he played key roles in the French Revolution of 1789 and the July Revolution of 1830. Considered a hero in both America and France, he advocated the end of slavery.  

 48 Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial.
Famous As: Football Player
Birthdate: December 5, 1995
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Massy, Essonne
Footballer Anthony Martial began his career playing for Les Ulis, Lyon, and AS Monaco. He then signed with Manchester United for the highest fee paid to a teenager back then, and won the 2015–2016 FA Cup. He won the Golden Boy Award for the best European player under 21.

 49 Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim.
Famous As: Sociologist & Philosopher
Birthdate: April 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Épinal
Died: November 15, 1917

Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He is credited with establishing the discipline of sociology for academic purposes and is widely regarded as the chief architect of modern social science. During his lifetime, Emile Durkheim published several works on topics like morality, religion, and education. He also played a major role in the development of sociology and anthropology as disciplines.

 50 Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Famous As: Novelist, Aviator & Journalist
Birthdate: June 29, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: July 31, 1944

French writer, poet, aristocrat, and journalist, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is best remembered for his novella, The Little Prince. He was a pioneering aviator as a young man. A successful commercial pilot before World War II, he joined the French Air Force at the start of the war. Equally successful as a writer, he won several of France's highest literary awards.

France produced literary geniuses in the form of Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre who were more than just writers; they were deep thinkers and key contributors to the Existential philosophy. Browse on to discover many more fascinating details about the famous men of France.