Born to working-class parents, Marguerite Alibert initially sang at local bars and worked as a prostitute. She later became Prince Edward’s (later King Edward VIII of the UK) courtesan. She shot her second husband, Ali Fahmy, to death at Savoy Hotel but got away by showcasing herself as a victim of brutality.
Jacques Mesrine was a French criminal who carried out numerous burglaries, bank robberies, and kidnappings in the US, France, and Canada. He also killed many people and escaped repeatedly from prison, which earned him notoriety. Nicknamed The Man of a Thousand Faces, Jacques Mesrine was an expert in hiding his true identity. His life inspired a two-part film titled Mesrine.
Madame de Brinvilliers was a French aristocrat who was sentenced to death by the French government after being accused of killing her father and brothers to inherit their estates. Speculated of having poisoned more than 30 sick people in order to test out her poisons, Madame de Brinvilliers' life, killings, and execution inspired many works of art.
Marie-Fortunée Lafarge, a beautiful and cultured French woman, gained notoriety for being tried and convicted of murdering her husband by arsenic-poisoning. Her trial generated much interest and curiosity and became a cause célèbre leading many to arrive from across Europe to witness it. The case had a great-impact on the French society with spectators divided into pro- and anti-Marie factions.
Patrice Alègre is a French serial killer who raped and killed his victims. In 2002, he was convicted of six rapes, five murders, and an attempted murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Patrice Alègre's abusive childhood is said to be one of the reasons behind his sex-related crimes later in his life.
Henri Charrière, convicted by French courts as a murderer in 1931 and pardoned in 1970, gained-attention after releasing his autobiographical novel Papillon. The book that gives details of his incarceration in the French penal colony of French Guiana and subsequent escape from there became a bestseller and garnered critical-acclaim. Its sequel Banco documents his life in Venezuela following the escape.
Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni was initially part of the Italian army. He later became determined to kill a member of the elite class and zeroed in on Empress Elisabeth of Austria. He stabbed Elisabeth with a file and was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was eventually found hanged in his cell.
French sisters Christine and Léa Papin, who were serving as live-in-maids, gained notoriety for and were convicted of murdering their employer's wife and daughter. The incident had a profound-impact on the community and was much debated by the intelligentsia, with some considering it as a case of class-struggle. Several works including plays, films and publications were inspired by the case.
Known for committing one of the bloodiest murders in France, French maid Léa Papin, along with her sister, Christine Papin, also inspired discussions on class struggle. They killed Léonie and Geneviève Lancelin, the wife and daughter of their employer, who would often ill-treat the 2 sisters.
Salah Abdeslam is a French terrorist who carried out the November 2015 Paris attacks. He is the only surviving terrorist of the 10-man unit that executed the attacks, which killed 130 people and injured more than 490 people. Salah Abdeslam was found guilty on five counts, including murder and terrorism, and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2022.
Giuseppe Marco Fieschi was a French man best remembered as the main conspirator in an attempted murder of King Louis-Philippe of France in 1835. Although the attack on Louis Philippe I and his entourage killed 18 people, the king escaped with a minor wound and Giuseppe Marco Fieschi was quickly captured. He was subsequently tried and executed.
Known as the Beast of the Bastille, French serial killer and rapist Guy Georges grew up in the social care system and was a troubled youth. He was later convicted of raping and killing 7 women, while he also assaulted at least 13 more women. He was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.
Jacqueline Sauvage was a French woman who was convicted of killing her husband Norbert Marot. Sauvage shot her husband three times in the back with a hunting rifle on 10 September 2012, the day after their son had committed suicide. Jacqueline Sauvage stated that her husband had abused her, their daughters, and possibly their son sexually and physically.