Famous French Inventors & Discoverers

Imagine life without French inventions and discoveries – you wouldn’t have mayonnaise in your sandwiches, no champagne for celebrations, no bicycle for that pollution-free ride, no aqualung for that intriguing underwater experience, no batteries for your electronic gadgets, no hot air ballooning for your holidays, no life-saver parachutes for that untimed mishaps or even adrenaline-rushing skydiving, no sewing machine for those designer outfits and no pencil and no pencil sharpener for those childhood learning. Almost intolerable, isn’t it? That is the kind of influence French inventors and discoverers have casted on the world through their inventions and discoveries. And if you think that the aforementioned are the only inventions made by French inventors, you definitely have been living under the rock all these years, for France has been the heart of major inventions of the world. Be it in the field of art and entertainment or science and technology, transportation and clothing or food and cooking and even weapons, communications, computers and sports, French discoverers and inventors have made their worth count in all. Through their research and findings, they have enriched our lives and helped us make advancements and developments to the society. With this segment, find out in details about the life and inventions of some of the most talented French inventors and discoverers.

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 Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal.
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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.

 2 Louis Braille

Louis Braille.
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Famous As: Inventor of Braille
Birthdate: January 4, 1809
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Coupvray
Died: January 6, 1852
A 3-year-old Louis Braille accidentally injured himself in the eye while playing with a tool at his father’s harness shop. While the child lost his eyesight, his relentless spirit made him create a unique system made of dots and dashes, now known as the Braille, to help the blind read.
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 3 René Laennec

René Laennec.
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Famous As: Inventor of Stethoscope
Birthdate: February 17, 1781
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Quimper, France
Died: August 13, 1826
Unlike most doctors, French physician René Laennec was also a skilled musician. It was while making his own wooden flutes that he invented the stethoscope, which helped doctors examine the chest cavity through auditory cues. His research also included work on melanoma, cirrhosis, and tuberculosis. He was a dedicated Catholic.

 4 Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf Diesel.
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Famous As: Inventor of Diesel Engine
Birthdate: March 18, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1913

Rudolf Diesel was a German mechanical engineer and inventor best remembered for inventing the Diesel engine. After Diesel's demise, his engine became an important substitution for the steam piston engine. The engine became widespread in applications, such as agricultural machines, submarines, ships, and trucks. His life inspired the 1942 biographical film Diesel, in which he was played by Willy Birgel.

 5 Nicéphore Niépce

Nicéphore Niépce.
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Famous As: Creator of World's First Permanent Photographic Image
Birthdate: March 7, 1765
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chalon-sur-Saône
Died: July 5, 1833

Nicéphore Niépce revolutionized science by inventing heliography and made the first permanent photographic image. He had initially been part of Napoleon’s army but had to quit due to his failing health. The Niépce Prize is awarded to a photographer every year in France, in his honor.

 6 Louis Le Prince

Louis Le Prince
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Famous As: Inventor, Film director, Cinematographer
Birthdate: August 28, 1841
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Metz

 7 Louis Daguerre

Louis Daguerre.
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: November 18, 1787
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France
Died: July 10, 1851
Remembered for his invention of the daguerreotype, or the first process of photography, which could develop pictures in just 20 to 30 minutes, Louis Daguerre had humble beginnings as revenue officer and then an opera scene painter. He was also instrumental in setting up the first diorama theater.
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 8 Joseph-Michel Montgolfier

Joseph-Michel Montgolfier
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Famous As: Aviator
Birthdate: August 26, 1740
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Annonay, Ardèche, France
Died: June 26, 1810

 9 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
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Famous As: combat engineer
Birthdate: February 26, 1725
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lorraine
Died: October 2, 1804

 10 Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac.
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Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat
Died: May 9, 1850

Known for his pathbreaking Gay-Lussac's Law, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

 11 Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
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Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: January 24, 1732
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 18, 1799

 12 Louis Blériot

Louis Blériot
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Famous As: Aviator, Engineer, Inventor, Aerospace engineer
Birthdate: July 1, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambrai
Died: August 2, 1936

 13 Marcel Dassault

Marcel Dassault
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Famous As: Politician, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Aerospace engineer, Inventor, Screenwriter
Birthdate: January 22, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: April 18, 1986

 14 Jacques Charles

Jacques Charles
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Famous As: Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaugency
Died: April 7, 1823

Best known for developing the Charles’s law, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The Académie des Sciences member later became a professor of physics.

 15 Augustin-Jean Fresnel

Augustin-Jean Fresnel.
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Broglie (Eure)
Died: July 14, 1827

Augustin-Jean Fresne, best remembered for his pioneering research on the wave theory of light, was a sickly child and was mostly homeschooled in his early days. The French physicist was a civil engineer, too. Unfortunately, most of his scientific work failed to receive public attention during his lifetime.

 16 Joseph Marie Jacquard

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

 17 Claude Chappe

Claude Chappe
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: December 25, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brûlon
Died: January 23, 1805

 18 Nicolas Appert

Nicolas Appert
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Famous As: confectioner, inventor
Birthdate: November 17, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Châlons-en-Champagne
Died: June 1, 1841

 19 Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
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Famous As: Writer, Inventor, Novelist, Officer
Birthdate: October 18, 1741
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Amiens
Died: September 5, 1803

 20 Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville

Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville
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Famous As: Publisher
Birthdate: April 25, 1817
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris
Died: April 26, 1879

 21 Jacques de Vaucanson

Jacques de Vaucanson
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Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
Birthdate: February 24, 1709
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Grenoble
Died: November 21, 1782

 22 Étienne Lenoir

Étienne Lenoir
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Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
Birthdate: January 12, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Luxembourg
Died: August 4, 1900

 23 Alexandre de Rhodes

Alexandre de Rhodes
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Famous As: Lexicographer, Linguist, Writer, Missionary
Birthdate: March 15, 1591
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Avignon
Died: November 5, 1660

 24 Jean-Pierre Blanchard

Jean-Pierre Blanchard
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Famous As: Inventor, Balloonist
Birthdate: July 4, 1753
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Les Andelys
Died: March 7, 1809

 25 Octave Chanute

Octave Chanute
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Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: February 18, 1832
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 23, 1910

 26 Guillaume Amontons

Guillaume Amontons
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 31, 1663
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 11, 1705

 27 Charles Bedaux

Charles Bedaux
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: October 26, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: near Paris or Charonton, France
Died: February 18, 1944

 28 Georges Claude

Georges Claude
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Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Engineer, Inventor
Birthdate: September 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: May 23, 1960

French engineer and inventor Georges Claude was often referred as the Edison of France. He is most noted for inventing and commercializing neon lighting and having a near monopoly on the new technology, for conducting an experiment to generate thermal energy of the ocean and building the first Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant, and for the Claude cycle.  

 29 Levi ben Gershom

Levi ben Gershom
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1288 AD
Birthplace: Bagnols-sur-Ceze, France
Died: April 20, 1344

 Levi ben Gershon was a medieval French Jewish mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and Talmudic scholar, famed for his rigid Aristotelianism. A prolific author, he has left several works on mathematical operations, trigonometry, geometry and philosophy, including The Book of the Wars of the Lord. While his bold expression and unconventional thoughts invited criticism, they continued to exert influences till nineteenth century.

 30 André-Jacques Garnerin

André-Jacques Garnerin
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Famous As: Inventor, Balloonist
Birthdate: January 31, 1769
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: August 18, 1823

 31 Pierre Vernier

Pierre Vernier
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 19, 1580
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ornans, France
Died: September 14, 1637

 32 Nicolas-Jacques Conté

Nicolas-Jacques Conté
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Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: August 4, 1755
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aunou-sur-Orne, France
Died: December 6, 1805

 33 Émile Baudot

Émile Baudot
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: September 11, 1845
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Magneux, France
Died: March 28, 1903

 34 Joseph Monier

Joseph Monier
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Famous As: Gardener
Birthdate: November 8, 1823
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie, France
Died: March 13, 1906

 35 Gaston Planté

Gaston Planté
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: April 22, 1834
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Orthez, France
Died: May 21, 1889

 36 Charles Cros

Charles Cros
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 1, 1842
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Aude, France
Died: August 9, 1888

 37 Paul Cornu

Paul Cornu
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Famous As: Engineers
Birthdate: June 15, 1881
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Glos-la-Ferrière, La Ferté-en-Ouche, France
Died: June 6, 1944

 38 Alexandre Alexeieff

Alexandre Alexeieff
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: April 18, 1901
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kazan, Russia
Died: August 9, 1982

 39 Bernard Courtois

Bernard Courtois
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: February 8, 1777
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: September 27, 1838

Bernard Courtois was a French chemist. He is credited with isolating iodine and morphine. Interested in chemistry from a young age, he learned how to make potassium nitrate for gunpowder for the French Revolution. He later found work at the École Polytechnique in Paris. Later in life, he went into manufacturing high-quality iodine and its salts. 

 40 Louis-Sébastien Lenormand

Louis-Sébastien Lenormand
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 25, 1757
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montpellier, France
Died: April 4, 1837

 41 Charles Xavier Thomas

Charles Xavier Thomas
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: May 5, 1785
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Colmar, France
Died: March 12, 1870

 42 Alphonse Pénaud

Alphonse Pénaud
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Famous As: Designer
Birthdate: May 31, 1850
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 1880

 43 Louis Lumière

Louis Lumière.
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Famous As: Inventor of Cinematographer
Birthdate: October 5, 1864
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Besançon, France
Died: June 6, 1948
While Thomas Edison was the first to invent motion pictures for solo viewing, the shares experience of watching a film with others, or cinema, was the brainchild of Louis Lumière. With his cinematograph, Lumière shot the first commercial film, a clip of workers leaving the Lumière photo factory. 

 44 Anselme Payen

Anselme Payen
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: January 6, 1795
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 12, 1871

 45 Georges Leclanché

Georges Leclanché
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: October 9, 1839
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 14, 1882

 46 Henri-Gustave Delvigne

Henri-Gustave Delvigne
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Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: April 10, 1800
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: October 18, 1876

 47 André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri

André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
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Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 28, 1819
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 4, 1889

 48 Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
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Famous As: Magician
Birthdate: December 7, 1805
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Blois, France
Died: June 13, 1871

 49 André Cassagnes

André Cassagnes
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: September 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 16, 2013

 50 Paul Heroult

Paul Heroult
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: April 10, 1863
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thury-Harcourt, France
Died: May 9, 1914

Best known for inventing the electric-arc furnace, Paul Heroult had also devised the electrolytic process for developing low-cost aluminium. Because of a similar work by Charles Martin Hall, the process came to be known as the Hall–Heroult process. He had also been a technical advisor to many companies.