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.
Wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron was, interestingly, her husband’s literature and theater teacher at Lycée la Providence. She was the chief strategist during Macron’s 2016-2017 election. Twenty-four years Macron’s senior, Brigitte, was to be the official “First Lady” of France, until a signature campaign thwarted such plans.
French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is remembered as someone who deviated from theology to science. He discovered the fossilized remains known as the Peking man in China, but faced a lot of opposition from his religious superiors when it came to publishing his scientific thoughts.
René Girard was a French philosopher of social science, literary critic, and historian. Over the years, Girard's work has had an influence on disciplines like philosophy, anthropology, psychology, mythology, theology, economics, sociology, and cultural studies among other important disciplines. In 2006, René Girard was honored by the University of Tübingen with the prestigious Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize.
Pierre de Coubertin was a French historian and educator. Credited with founding the International Olympic Committee, Coubertin is often referred to as the father of the modern Olympic Games. Also an important contributor to the sport of rugby union, Coubertin was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007.
Born to a music instructor father, French composer and conductor Nadia Boulanger was no stranger to music as a kid. The first woman to conduct prime orchestras, she had the who’s who of the music industry, such as Elliott Carter, Roy Harris, and Quincy Jones, on her list of students.
John Baptist de La Salle, also known as La Salle, is remembered as the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or the de La Salle Brothers. Apart from setting up charitable boarding schools, he also trained teachers. He is revered as the patron saint of school teachers and educators.
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.
11 Allan Kardec
12 Paul Dukas
Best known for his masterpiece The Sorcerer's Apprentice, French composer Paul Dukas was admired by both conservative and progressive French musicians. Born to a pianist mother, Dukas had begun composing while recovering from an ailment at age 14. Shortly before his death, he destroyed most of his manuscripts.
Her activism and outspokenness had earned Princess María Teresa of Bourbon-Parma the nickname Red Princess. Part of the Spanish royal family, she was educated at the Sorbonne. She later supported the Carlist movement and was a champion of women’s rights, too. She eventually died of COVID-19 at age 86.
14 Adolphe Adam
15 Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan was a French Semitic and Orientalist scholar. A multi-talented personality, Renan was also an expert of Semitic civilizations and languages, philologist, philosopher, historian of religion, critic, and biblical scholar. Ernest Renan is credited with writing pioneering and influential works on the origins of Christianity. Ernest Renan is also credited with writing the extremely popular book, Life of Jesus.
A significant figure of the Paris Commune, Louise Michel was born as an illegitimate child of a maid. She had initially been trained to be a teacher but later began developing an interest in revolutionary socialist ideas. She was also once sent behind bars for inciting riots.
17 Claire Denis
18 Savitri Devi
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.
21 Lucie Aubrac
Nobel Prize-winning French chemist Jean-Pierre Sauvage is currently associated with Strasbourg University. He has gained recognition for his research on supramolecular and coordination chemistry, and for creating molecular chains, such as catenane, that mimic the mechanical functions by changing their nature in response to external cues.
28 Guy Gilbert
French Roman Catholic priest Guy Gilbert was trained in Algeria and later began his spiritual career working with juvenile delinquents in France. He has mentored Belgian prince Laurent and has also worked for Radio Notre-Dame and La Croix. The Légion d’Honneur winner has also penned several books.
Violette Verdy was a French ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer, and writer. From 1958 to 1977, Verdy served as the principal dancer for the New York City Ballet where she was a star. She also served as the director for popular ballet companies like the Boston Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet. During her lifetime, Verdy was honored with several awards.
French chemist Le Chatelier is most noted for his work on Le Chatelier's principle as also on varying solubility of salts in an ideal solution. The Le Chatelier's principle, which chemists and chemical engineers use for predicting the effect a changing condition, like temperature or pressure, has on a system in chemical equilibrium was devised by him.
Antoine Bourdelle was a French sculptor and teacher. A prominent personality in the Art Deco movement, Bourdelle played a major role during the transition to modern sculpture from the Beaux-Arts style. A prolific and influential teacher, Antoine Bourdelle is credited with mentoring several future sculptors like Alberto Giacometti, Athanase Apartis, and Josefina de Vasconcellos.
Gilles Lipovetsky is a French sociologist, philosopher, and writer. He also serves as a professor at the prestigious Stendhal University in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France. An influential figure, Lipovetsky has written about important topics like globalization, feminism, consumerism, and modern culture.
43 Francis Rapp
French symbolist artist Eugène Carrière was a significant figure of the Fin de siècle period. It is believed his works influenced much of his friend Pablo Picasso’s artworks. His signature style included gray shades and soft tones. He also taught art at Académie de La Palette.