Famous French Business People

When Bernard Arnault stepped into the world of fashion, he revitalized French couture and became known as the ‘Pope of Fashion’. Bestowed with France’s highest honor, Commander of the Legion of Honor, he was featured amongst the 100 most influential people in the world. He today heads the French conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the largest luxury-products company in the world. Mohed Altrad’s Montpellier-based Altrad group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of scaffolding and cement mixers. Interestingly, this Bedouin-born man’s journey to becoming a billionaire started on a modest note. From having no means to survive and no knowledge of French whatsoever, he rose to become a French business tycoon. Today, Altrad Group has more than 7000 employees and customers in more than 100 countries. In a man’s world, Patricia Barbizet not just survived but persistently sustained. A prominent figure in the French business conglomerates, she served as the CEO of Christie’s in 2014, thus becoming the first female CEO of the company. Since 1992, she has served as the Executive Director of Artemis and is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Groupe PPR and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Christie’s. These French business magnates have shown the world that France is no less when it comes to business. Know more about them and a lot of other French business people, their life, their ambitions, their works and their achievements.

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 Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel
4
Famous As: Fashion designer
Birthdate: August 19, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saumur, France
Died: January 10, 1971

Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand. She is credited with replacing the corseted silhouette as the feminine standard of style with a sporty, casual chic. Her work as a designer redefined the fashionable woman in the era post World War I. She also played a vital role in revolutionizing jewelry, handbags, and fragrance.

 2 Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault
4
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.

 3 Edmond James de Rothschild

Edmond James de Rothschild
11
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: August 19, 1845
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Boulogne-Billancourt, France
Died: November 2, 1934

Edmond James de Rothschild was a French businessman with deep connections to the Rothschild banking family. He was a strong supporter of Zionism and donated significant amounts that went towards the establishment of the State of Israel. He also provided funds for the foundation of the Friends of the French National Museum of Natural History Society. 

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 4 Arpad Busson

Arpad Busson
4
Famous As: Financier, Philanthropist
Birthdate: January 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Arpad Busson is a French financier. He is credited with founding the EIM Group, for which he also serves as the chairman. Also known for his philanthropic efforts around the world, Arpad Busson is an ardent supporter of venture philanthropy, which encourages people to operate charity organizations like any other business ventures to maximize the effectiveness of charitable pursuits.

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 5 Liliane Bettencourt

Liliane Bettencourt
3
Famous As: Shareholder of L'Oréal
Birthdate: October 21, 1922
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 20, 2017
Former L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt was the world’s richest woman at the time of her death. She had apparently gifted celebrity photographer François-Marie Banier cash and gifts worth a billion euros, leading her daughter to file a case against Banier later. Bettencourt was also involved in medical and cultural philanthropy.

 6 François-Henri Pinault

François-Henri Pinault
4
Famous As: CEO of Kering
Birthdate: May 28, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rennes, France

François-Henri Pinault is a French businessman. He is credited with transforming the retail conglomerate PPR, which was founded by his father François Pinault, into the world-renowned luxury fashion group Kering. Through Groupe Artémis, for which Pinault serves as the president, his family donated $113 million to reconstruct the famous Notre-Dame de Paris.  

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 7 Olivier Sarkozy

Olivier Sarkozy
5
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: May 26, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boulogne-Billancourt, France
French banker Olivier Sarkozy, half-brother of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, is based in the U.S. and is known for his efforts in Sallie Mae’s recapitalization. He has also held prominent posts, such as that of the Managing Director of the Financial Institutions Group at Credit Suisse First Boston.
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 8 Françoise Bettencourt Meyers

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers
5
Famous As: Author and Board Member of L'Oréal
Birthdate: July 10, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine

L'Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the world’s richest woman as of 2020, made headlines when she sued her mother, trying to prove she was mentally incompetent. In spite of being born into luxury, she often ditched parties, and took to writing books on Greek mythology and religious commentaries.

 9 Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert
4
Famous As: Chef
Birthdate: March 2, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Antibes, France

 10 Alain Delon

Alain Delon
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 8, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sceaux, France

Alain Delon is a French actor, screenwriter, singer, filmmaker, and businessman. One of the most prominent actors and sex symbols in Europe during the 1960s and 1970s, Delon achieved critical acclaim for his performance in films like Rocco and His Brothers. In 1985, he was honored with the prestigious César Award for his portrayal of Robert Avranches in Our Story.

 11 Henri Fayol

Henri Fayol
3
Famous As: Industrialist, Management Thinker
Birthdate: July 29, 1841
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died: November 19, 1925

Henri Fayol was a French mining engineer, author, mining executive, and director of mines. He is credited with developing a theory of business administration called Fayolism. Along with Frederick Winslow Taylor, Henri Fayol is credited with founding modern management methods.

 12 Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton
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Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: August 4, 1821
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: France
Died: February 27, 1892

After losing his parents at 10, Louis Vuitton ran away to Paris, where he gained repute as a box-maker/packer, and was even hired by Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugénie de Montijo. He then founded the iconic French fashion and luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton, which now operates in 50 countries.

 13 Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon
3
Famous As: Chef
Birthdate: April 7, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Poitiers, Vienne, France
Died: August 6, 2018

 14 Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde
5
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 1, 1956
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France

Christine Lagarde is a French politician, businessperson, and lawyer. She is the current president of the European Central Bank (ECB), a position she has been holding since 1 November 2019. Prior to this, she was the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is the first woman to head both the ECB and the IMF. 

 15 Paloma Picasso

Paloma Picasso
3
Famous As: Fashion designer
Birthdate: April 19, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vallauris, France

Fashion and jewelry designer Paloma Picasso is best known as the daughter of legendary artists Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot. She began her career designing costume jewelry for Yves Saint-Laurent and later designed for Tiffany & Co. Known for her signature red lipstick, she also has her own range of perfumes.

 16 Auguste Escoffier

Auguste Escoffier
4
Famous As: Chef
Birthdate: October 28, 1846
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Villeneuve-Loubet, France
Died: February 12, 1935

 17 Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud
3
Famous As: Chef
Birthdate: March 25, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, France

 18 François Pinault

François Pinault
3
Famous As: French billionaire businessman, founder of the luxury group Kering and the investment company Artémis.
Birthdate: August 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Les Champs-Géraux, France

 19 Delphine Arnault

Delphine Arnault
4
Famous As: Art collector
Birthdate: April 4, 1975
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine

 20 Xavier Niel

Xavier Niel
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Famous As: Businessperson, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: August 25, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Créteil

 21 Jean-Claude Trichet

Jean-Claude Trichet
3
Famous As: Economist, Banker
Birthdate: December 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lyon

Jean-Claude Trichet is a French economist. He was the president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011. Previously, he had been the governor of the Bank of France from 1993 to 2003 under the presidencies of François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac. A much-decorated personality, he is a Commander of the Legion of Honor.  

 22 Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier
3
Famous As: Fashion designer
Birthdate: April 24, 1952
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Arcueil, France

Known as the enfant terrible of the fashion world, Jean Paul Gaultier wasn’t formally trained in fashion but managed to redefine fashion with his peculiar range of clothes and perfume. He designed Madonna’s cone bra in the 1990s and used material such as corsets and tin cans in his collections.

 23 Alain Wertheimer

Alain Wertheimer
3
Famous As: entrepreneur
Birthdate: September 28, 1948
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris

 24 James Mayer de Rothschild

James Mayer de Rothschild
2
Famous As: Banker, Art collector, Economist, Businessperson
Birthdate: May 15, 1792
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: November 15, 1868

German-French banker and the youngest child of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, James Mayer de Rothschild. He took over the reins of his family banking firm after the death of his brother Nathan and headed the French Rothschild banking family. The Légion d'honneur winner later also invested in a vineyard.

 25 Ned Lamont

Ned Lamont
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Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: January 3, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Washington, District of Columbia, USA

 26 Thierry Roussel

Thierry Roussel
3
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: February 16, 1953
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine

 27 Jules Rimet

Jules Rimet
2
Famous As: Football administrator
Birthdate: October 14, 1873
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Theuley
Died: October 16, 1956

 28 Jean David Blanc

Jean David Blanc
2
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: April 30, 1968
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: France

 29 René Lacoste

René Lacoste
3
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: July 2, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 12, 1996

 30 Bernard Tapie

Bernard Tapie
2
Famous As: Businessperson and Minister of City Affairs in the government of Pierre Bérégovoy
Birthdate: January 26, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 3, 2021

 31 Basil Zaharoff

Basil Zaharoff
3
Famous As: Arms dealer
Birthdate: October 6, 1849
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mugla, Turkey
Died: November 27, 1936

 32 Candide Thovex

Candide Thovex
3
Famous As: Freestyle skier
Birthdate: May 22, 1982
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Annecy, France

 33 Jean Monnet

Jean Monnet
2
Famous As: Diplomat, Entrepreneur, Politician
Birthdate: November 9, 1888
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cognac, France
Died: March 16, 1979

Son of a brandy merchant, French economist Jean Monnet is known as The Father of Europe. He was one of the first to propose a common European market, leading six countries, including France, to form the European Coal and Steel Community, which eventually led to the modern-day European Union.

 34 Victor Drai

Victor Drai
2
Famous As: Nightclub owner, film producer
Birthdate: July 25, 1947
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Casablanca, Morocco

 35 Jacques Bergerac

Jacques Bergerac
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 26, 1927
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Biarritz, France
Died: June 15, 2014

 36 Pierre Nanterme

Pierre Nanterme
2
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: September 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: January 31, 2019

 37 Anne Dias-Griffin

Anne Dias-Griffin
2
Famous As: Investment analyst
Birthdate: 1970 AD
Birthplace: France

 38 Dom Pérignon

Dom Pérignon
2
Famous As: Monk
Birthdate: November 30, 1638
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sainte-Menehould, France
Died: September 14, 1715

 39 Jacques Vallée

Jacques Vallée
2
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: September 24, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pontoise, Val-d'Oise, France

Jacques Vallée is a French computer scientist, Internet pioneer, venture capitalist, astronomer, ufologist, and author. Vallée is credited with co-developing the first computerized map of Mars, which was used by NASA in the 1960s. An influential personality in the study of UFOs, Jacques Vallée has promoted such hypothesis as the interdimensional hypothesis.

 40 Jean-Baptiste Say

Jean-Baptiste Say
2
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: January 5, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: November 15, 1832

French economist Jean-Baptiste Say supported free trade and competition. Scholars of economics know him for his law of markets, which states that supply creates its own demand. He had experimented with many jobs, from being a journalist to owning a cotton mill, and eventually became an economics professor.

 41 Paul Marciano

Paul Marciano
2
Famous As: Fashion Designer
Birthdate: 1952 AD
Birthplace: Debdou, Morocco

Born in Morocco and raised in France, designer Paul Marciano is one of the co-founders of Guess and The Marciano Art Foundation. Part of a family of rabbis, he grew up in a synagogue complex and was also part of a Jewish boy scout group.

 42 Jérôme Kerviel

Jérôme Kerviel
3
Famous As: Trader, Banker
Birthdate: January 11, 1977
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cairo

 43 Louis Renault

Louis Renault
2
Famous As: Founder of Renault
Birthdate: February 12, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: October 24, 1944

Louis Renault was a French industrialist. A pioneer of the automobile industry, Renault is remembered for co-founding the popular automobile manufacturer, Renault Group. Renault is credited with building factories that contributed immensely to the war effort during the First World War; the Renault FT tank, the first tank of modern configuration, was created and manufactured by his company.

 44 Stephen Girard

Stephen Girard
2
Famous As: Sailor, Entrepreneur, Banker
Birthdate: May 20, 1750
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 26, 1831

 45 Jacques Delors

Jacques Delors
2
Famous As: Economist, Politician, Banker, Trade unionist
Birthdate: July 20, 1925
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris

Born to a Banque de France employee, Jacques Delors followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the bank later. Educated at the Sorbonne, he became a Socialist Party member. The former French finance minister has also served as president of the European Commission and supported the formation of the euro.

 46 Guy de Rothschild

Guy de Rothschild
2
Famous As: Banker
Birthdate: May 21, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 12, 2007

 47 Ludo Lefebvre

Ludo Lefebvre
2
Famous As: Restaurateur
Birthdate: April 18, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Burgundy

 48 Joseph Marie Jacquard

Joseph Marie Jacquard
2
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 7, 1752
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: August 7, 1834

 49 Marcel Bich

Marcel Bich
2
Famous As: Businessperson
Birthdate: July 29, 1914
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: May 30, 1994

 50 André Citroën

André Citroën
2
Famous As: French industrialist
Birthdate: February 5, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: July 3, 1935

André Citroën was a French industrialist. He is credited with founding the popular automobile company Citroën and is best remembered for making Citroën cars. He also helped his company become the world's fourth-largest automobile manufacturer by the beginning of the 1930s. In 1998, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.