Famous French Activists

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

Vote for Your Favourite French Activists

 1 

Marion Cotillard
5
Birthdate: September 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Marion Cotillard delivered an Academy Award-winning performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, becoming the first to win the award for a French-language film. She was appreciated for her iconic role of Joan of Arc on stage. She has promoted Lady Dior bags and Chanel No. 5 fragrance.

 2 
Brigitte Bardot
(Actress, Activist)

Brigitte Bardot
6
Birthdate: September 28, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Brigitte Bardot is a French former singer and actress. One of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s, Bardot remains a major pop culture icon despite quitting the entertainment industry in 1973. Bardot is credited with popularizing the bikini. She also popularized the town of Armação dos Búzios and the city of St. Tropez in Brazil.

 3 
Victor Hugo
(Novelist & Poet)

Victor Hugo
4
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.

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 4 
Josephine Baker
(Entertainer)

Josephine Baker
5
Birthdate: June 3, 1906
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: April 12, 1975
Nicknamed Black Pearl and Creole Goddess, Josephine Baker was the first Black woman to appear in a motion picture. She was a revue dancer, famous for her signature banana costume. A civil rights activist, she helped the French military during World War II. She adopted 12 children of different ethnicities.

 5 
Michel Foucault
(Philosopher & Historian)

Michel Foucault
5
Birthdate: October 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Poitiers, France
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.

 6 

Simone de Beauvoir
4
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 14, 1986
French author and existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir is best remembered for her feminist treatise The Second Sex and her novels The Mandarins and She Came to Stay. Her literary contributions also include essays, biographies, and her autobiographical works. She won the Prix Goncourt and the Jerusalem Prize.
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 7 
Jean-Paul Marat
(Physician)

Jean-Paul Marat
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boudry, Switzerland
Died: July 13, 1793

French political theorist, scientist, and physician Jean-Paul Marat was a key figure of the French Revolution. He published his radical views in pamphlets and newspapers, such as L'Ami du people. He was held responsible for the September massacres. His assassination by a Girondin supporter made him a Jacobin martyr.

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 8 
Olympe de Gouges
(Playwright)

Olympe de Gouges
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1748
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montauban, France
Died: November 3, 1793

Olympe de Gouges was an 18th-century French playwright and political activist. Her writings on women's rights and abolitionism were popular in various countries. She was an outspoken advocate against the slave trade in the French colonies. She demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. She was executed during the Reign of Terror.

 9 
Jean-Marie Le Pen
(Politician)

Jean-Marie Le Pen
3
Birthdate: June 20, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: La Trinité-sur-Mer, France

Jean-Marie Le Pen is a French politician who focuses on issues pertaining to the European Union, immigration to France, France's unemployment, and law and order. From 1972 to 2011, he worked as President of the National Front. From 2011 to 2015, Le Pen served as the National Front's Honorary President.

 10 
Elif Shafak
(Writer)

Elif Shafak
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France

Known widely as Turkey’s most popular female author, Elif Shafak is best known for her Booker-shortlisted bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. A fierce advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, she is also a 3-time TEDGlobal speaker. She now lives in London, on a self-imposed exile.

 11 

Jean-Michel Cousteau
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Toulon

Charles-Michel de l'Épée
4
Birthdate: November 24, 1712
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Versailles, Yvelines, France
Died: December 23, 1789

Eighteenth-century philanthropic educator Charles-Michel de l'Épée is regarded as the Father of the Deaf for pioneering the education of the deaf and dumb. He laid down the Signed French system, which enabled the deaf to participate in legal proceedings. His French Sign Language laid the path to the American Sign Language.

 13 
Marina Picasso
(Humanitarian)

Marina Picasso
2
Birthdate: November 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: France

Marina Picasso is a French humanitarian best known as the granddaughter of popular Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso. After inheriting a fifth of Pablo Picasso's estate, Marina Picasso used much of the inheritance to support humanitarian programs for children in need. Marina Picasso is credited with establishing a charitable organization called The Marina Picasso Foundation.

 14 
Héloïse
(French nun)

Héloïse
3
Birthdate: 1101 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 16, 1164
French nun Héloïse was also a philosopher, writer, and abbess and was a renowned "woman of letters". She was noted as a  philosopher of love and friendship. In 1147, she was granted the rank of prelate nullius, approximately the level of a bishop. Her surviving letters are considered a foundation of French and European literature and inspiration for courtly love.

 15 

Hélène Cixous
3
Birthdate: June 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oran, Algeria

Hélène Cixous is a professor, poet, playwright, rhetorician, literary critic, philosopher, and French feminist writer. She is best known for writing an article titled The Laugh of the Medusa, which earned her popularity and established her as a thinker in post-structural feminism.

 16 

Alexander Berkman
3
Birthdate: November 21, 1870
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vilnius
Died: June 28, 1936

Alexander Berkman was a Russian-American anarchist and author. He was famous for both his political activism and his writing and was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century. He served as the editor of fellow anarchist Emma Goldman's anarchist journal, Mother Earth. He suffered from ill-health in his later years and died by suicide. 

 17 
Savitri Devi
(Writer, Poet)

Savitri Devi
4
Birthdate: September 30, 1905
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: October 22, 1982

Born in Lyon, Frenchwoman Maximiani Julia Portas later changed her name to Savitri Devi and adopted Nazism. The ardent cat lover earned a PhD in philosophy and later acquired Greek nationality and served as an Axis spy. She claimed Adolf Hitler was an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu.

 18 
Luce Irigaray
(Philosopher, linguist, Feminist)

Luce Irigaray
3
Birthdate: May 3, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bernissart, Belgium

 19 
Julia Kristeva
(Philosopher)

Julia Kristeva
3
Birthdate: June 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sliven, Bulgaria

 20 
Daniel Defert
(Sociologist)

Daniel Defert
3
Birthdate: September 10, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Avallon, France

Best known as the partner of legendary French philosopher Michel Foucault, Daniel Defert was initially a professor of sociology. After Foucault died of AIDS, Defert turned into an AIDS activist and formed AIDES, France’s first AIDS awareness organization. He inherited Foucault’s estate, despite opposition from Foucault’s family.

 21 

Delphine Seyrig
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon
Died: October 15, 1990

 22 

Benjamin Constant
2
Birthdate: December 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lausanne, Switzerland
Died: December 8, 1830

Swiss-French activist and author Benjamin Constant is best remembered for penning the classic French novel Adolphe, which was one of the earliest psychological novels. Initially the chamberlain to the duke of Brunswick, he later supported the French Revolution and became a Member of the Chamber of Deputies.

 23 
Marlene Schiappa
(Politician)

Marlene Schiappa
2
Birthdate: November 18, 1982
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France

 24 

Alexandra Cousteau
2
Birthdate: March 21, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Los Angeles County, California, United States

 25 
Madame Roland
(Revolutionary)

Madame Roland
2
Birthdate: March 17, 1754
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 8, 1793

The wife of Jean-Marie Roland, Madame Roland was a leading French revolutionary and often hosted significant political meets at her salon. She often directed her husband’s political actions and was responsible for creating a rift between the Jacobin and Girondin factions. She was later arrested and guillotined.

Charles Joseph Bonaparte
2
Birthdate: June 9, 1851
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: June 28, 1921

The grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Joseph Bonaparte was a French-American lawyer and political activist, born and raised in Baltimore. Founder of Baltimore Reform League, his works attracted Theodore Roosevelt’s admiration and serving as U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Attorney General during the latter’s tenure as President, he established Bureau of Investigation, later Day FBI, prosecuting many antitrust suits.

 27 
Beate Klarsfeld
(Activist)

Beate Klarsfeld
2
Birthdate: February 13, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Nazi Germany

 28 
Serge Klarsfeld
(Political activist)

Serge Klarsfeld
2
Birthdate: September 17, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bucharest, Romania

Serge Klarsfeld is a Romanian-born French Nazi hunter and activist. He is best known for recording the Holocaust in order to enable the trial and prosecution of war criminals. Klarsfeld is also renowned for his efforts to commemorate the victims of German-occupied France.

 29 
Coccinelle
(Actress)

Coccinelle
2
Birthdate: August 23, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 9, 2006

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme
2
Birthdate: April 11, 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Angoulême, France
Died: December 21, 1549

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme, the wife of Henry II of Navarre, was a significant figure of the French Renaissance, and is also regarded as The First Modern Woman. She patronized artists and was herself an author, with several short stories and a religious poem to her credit.

 31 
Monique Wittig
(Novelist)

Monique Wittig
2
Birthdate: July 13, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dannemarie, France
Died: January 3, 2003

 32 
Danielle Mitterrand
(François Mitterrand's wife)

Danielle Mitterrand
2
Birthdate: October 29, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Verdun, Meuse, France
Died: November 22, 2011

 33 
Inessa Armand
(Politician)

Inessa Armand
2
Birthdate: May 8, 1874
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 24, 1920

 34 
Ouida
(Novelist)

Ouida
2
Birthdate: January 1, 1839
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bury Saint Edmunds, England
Died: January 25, 1908

 35 
Celine Cousteau
(Director)

Celine Cousteau
2
Birthdate: June 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles County, California, United States

 36 
Pauline Harmange
(Feminist writer and a self-declared misandrist)

Pauline Harmange
2
Birthdate: December 6, 1994
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: France

 37 
Alain Soral
(Essayist known for Holocaust denial)

Alain Soral
2
Birthdate: October 2, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Aix-les-Bains, France

Apart from being an essayist and a filmmaker, Alain Soral is also a far-right extremist, who has been in trouble for his antisemitic tendencies. Once imprisoned for racism and Holocaust denial, he also established his own political organization, Égalité & Réconciliation, with the help of far-right students’ unions.

 38 
Dionys Mascolo
(Left-wing Political Activist, Essayist)

Dionys Mascolo
2
Birthdate: February 11, 1916
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Val-d'Oise, France
Died: August 20, 1997

 39 

Flora Tristan
2
Birthdate: April 7, 1803
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
Died: November 14, 1844

 40 
Line Renaud
(Singer)

Line Renaud
2
Birthdate: July 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nieppe, France

 41 

Frederique Bel
2
Birthdate: March 24, 1975
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Annecy, France

 42 

Frédéric Ozanam
2
Birthdate: April 23, 1813
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: September 8, 1853

Frédéric Ozanam was a French lawyer, literary scholar, equal rights advocate, and journalist. He is credited with co-founding the Conference of Charity, which came to be known as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. in 1997, Frédéric Ozanam was beatified at Notre Dame de Paris by Pope John Paul II and his feast day is observed on 9 September.

 43 
Frédéric Passy
(Economist & Nobel Peace Prize Winner)

Frédéric Passy
2
Birthdate: May 20, 1822
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris
Died: June 12, 1912

Frédéric Passy was a French pacifist and economist. He is credited with co-founding the Inter-Parliamentary Union as well as many peace societies, such as the Société Française pour l'Arbitrage entre Nations. He is best known for his involvement in the European peace movement, for which he received the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. 

 44 

David Diop
2
Birthdate: July 9, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
Died: August 29, 1960

David Diop was a French West-African poet best remembered for his role in the Négritude literary movement. Diop's poems, which have been featured in popular magazines like Présence Africaine, are viewed as a criticism of colonialism. David Diop, who worked for the independence of Africa, died at the age of 33 in an air crash.

 45 
Rama Yade
(Politician)

Rama Yade
2
Birthdate: December 13, 1976
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ouakam, Dakar, Senegal

 46 
Christophe Jaffrelot
(Political scientist)

Christophe Jaffrelot
2
Birthdate: February 12, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Poissy, France

 47 
Zineb El Rhazoui
(Journalist)

Zineb El Rhazoui
2
Birthdate: January 19, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Casablanca, Morocco

Zineb El Rhazoui is a French journalist best known for her contribution as a columnist for the popular magazine Charlie Hebdo where she worked from 2011 to 2017. Rhazoui was in Morocco on 7 January 2015 when the Charlie Hebdo massacre took place. Since 2015, Rhazoui has been working as a human rights campaigner, speaking about free speech and Islam.

 48 

Paul Rassinier
2
Birthdate: March 18, 1906
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bermont, France
Died: July 28, 1967

 49 

Sylvain Tesson
2
Birthdate: April 26, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France

 50 
Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
(Statesman and activist who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1966 to 1977)

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
2
Birthdate: January 17, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Died: May 12, 2003