Famous French Musicians

Music is not just a form of art but the ultimate food for the soul. It is also considered by many to be a great stress buster. It’s a popular belief that language is no barrier when it comes to music. While peppy tunes from the west have been welcomed by the eastern nations, folk music from continents such as Asia has managed to garner acclaim in the other parts of the world. France has produced many great musicians who have mesmerized their audience with their work. The compositions of these legendary French musicians vary from genres like classical, jazz, hip-hop, pop, to even comedy. Amongst the many great names of French music, some of the famous ones are Robert Ballard, Jean-Baptiste Arban, Arnold Dolmetsch, and Vincent Monteil. Even present day musicians such as Gaspard Michel Andre Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have made their country proud by receiving prestigious awards such as the ‘Grammy’. Many of their famous compositions draw inspiration from French culture. Get an insight into the lives of some of the most famous French musicians through this collection of biographies. Read on to explore more about their life stories, timelines and also learn a few interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

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 Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 22, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died: March 25, 1918

Claude Debussy was a French composer whose career spanned over 30 years. Regarded as one of the most influential composers of his generation, Claude Debussy's works have influenced several other composers, such as Bill Evans, George Benjamin, Olivier Messiaen, and Béla Bartók. Claude Debussy is also regarded as the first Impressionist composer, though he rejected the term.

 2 Kathie Lee Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford.
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Famous As: TV Host, Actress
Birthdate: August 16, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris

Kathie Lee Gifford achieved celebrity status by working as a television presenter. She then became a singer-songwriter and author, cementing her place in the entertainment industry. Also known for her charity work, Kathie serves as an ambassador for Childhelp, a non-profit organization working towards preventing child abuse.

 3 David Guetta

David Guetta.
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Famous As: Disc Jockey
Birthdate: November 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio

David Guetta is a French songwriter, record producer, and DJ. Over the years, Guetta has been one of the most popular DJs in the world; in 2011 and 2020, he was voted the best DJ in a poll conducted by DJ Magazine. Referred to as the grandfather of EDM, Guetta has several prestigious awards under his belt, including two Grammys.

 4 Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf.
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Famous As: Singer, Songwriter, Actress
Birthdate: December 19, 1915
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belleville, Paris, France
Died: October 10, 1963
France’s legendary singer and actor Édith Piaf, or the “Little Sparrow,” is best remembered for her iconic Grammy Hall of Fame-inducted song La Vie en Rose and the classic Non, je ne regrette rien. Raised by the prostitutes of her grandmother’s brothel, she began her life as a street singer.

 5 Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liberchies, Belgium
Died: May 16, 1953
Belgian-born Romani-French jazz musician Jean Reinhardt was better known by his nickname Django. Some of his most celebrated composition were Belleville and Swing '42. Though he died at 43, he influenced an entire generation of musicians, which led to annual Django Festivals, a film, and a biography.

 6 Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel.
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: March 7, 1875
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ciboure, France
Died: December 28, 1937
French impressionist composer Maurice Ravel is best known for his orchestral composition Boléro. He rejected the Legion d'honneur and all French awards. He was one the first composers to realize the importance of recording music to gain a wider reach. Most of his music consisted of piano and orchestration.
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 7 Erik Satie

Erik Satie.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 17, 1866
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Honfleur
Died: July 1, 1925

Erik Satie was a French pianist and composer. An influential artist during his time, Satie's works served as a predecessor to later artistic movements like repetitive music, minimalism, and the Theatre of the Absurd. Apart from being a musician, Erik Satie was also a prolific writer, who contributed to publications, such as Vanity Fair and 391.

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 8 Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma.
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Famous As: Cellist
Birthdate: October 7, 1955
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
French-born Chinese cellist Yo-Yo Ma was a child prodigy and later won 18 Grammys for his works. The Juilliard and Harvard alumnus has experimented with various types of music, including Brazilian and Chinese music. Named to Time 100 in 2020, he is also a U.N. Messenger of Peace.
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 9 Kayden Boche

Kayden Boche.
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Famous As: Model
Birthdate: June 3, 1985
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brest , France

After his mother’s death, Kayden Boche was placed in a foster home, where he suffered abuse. The French model was scouted soon after high school and became a sensation after his Dior Addict campaigns for Christian Dior fragrances. He has also directed Jérémy Amelin's single Oh, Oh!

 10 Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo
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Famous As: Musician, Composer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: February 8, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
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 11 Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg.
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Birthdate: April 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris
Died: March 2, 1991
French musician, singer, and actor Serge Gainsbourg had experimented with a variety of music forms, such as jazz, pop, and reggae. Renowned for songs such as Bonnie and Clyde, he also included sexual overtones in his lyrics. He had also acted in and directed films and written a short novel.

 12 Hector Berlioz

Louis-Hector Berlioz.
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Famous As: Music Composer
Birthdate: December 11, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: La Côte-Saint-André, France
Died: March 8, 1869

Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic conductor and composer who was highly regarded in places like Russia, Britain, and Germany. Although he did not achieve fame as a composer, Berlioz became renowned internationally for his skills as a conductor. He also wrote musical journalism, which includes his influential work, Treatise on Instrumentation. 

 13 Christine and the Queens

Christine and the Queens
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: June 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, France

Hélöise Letissier, also known as Christine and the Queens and Chris, often challenges gender stereotypes through her music. The queer electropop and indie artist was inspired by drag queens in London, after she quit theater school following a break-up. Known for her chart-busting debut album, Chaleur humaine, she identifies as pansexual.

 14 Vanessa Paradis

Vanessa Paradis.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 22, 1972
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, France

French singer and actress, Vanessa Paradis, became a celebrity at the age of 14 with the French song Joe le taxi in 1987. She tasted further success with English songs like Be My Baby and many other French songs. She has also acted in several French films and has modelled regularly for high-end fashion products by Chanel like perfume and handbags.

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 15 Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saens.
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Famous As: Composer, Organist, Pianist
Birthdate: October 9, 1835
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 16, 1921
French composer and multi-instrumentalist Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was an icon of the Romantic era, known for masterpieces such as the First Cello Concerto and the opera Samson and Delilah. He was initially a church organist and then became a freelance composer and pianist. He also taught music in Paris.

 16 Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer.
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Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian
Birthdate: January 14, 1875
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kaysersberg
Died: September 4, 1965

Albert Schweitzer was an Alsatian polymath who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophical work, Reverence for Life. He is credited with founding the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which was a direct result of his philosophical expression. Schweitzer is also credited with influencing the Organ reform movement, which began in the mid-20th-century.

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 17 Jean-Michel Jarre

Jean-Michel Jarre.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 24, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: France
French composer and record producer Jean-Michel André Jarre is known for his pathbreaking experiments in the electronic, new-age, and ambient genres. His signature style includes inclusion of overwhelming laser shows, fireworks, and projections in his music shows. He became the first Western artist invited to perform in China.

 18 Soko

Soko
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 26, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France

 19 Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen.
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Famous As: Composer, Organist
Birthdate: December 10, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: January 1, 1970

French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen is credited with creating melodically innovative scores, using what he called "modes of limited transposition." An ornithologist, too, he added bird songs into his compositions such as La fauvette des jardins and Catalogue d'oiseaux. His Messiaen: Concert A Quatre won a Grammy.

 20 Pierre Boulez

Pierre Boulez
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 26, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montbrison, France
Died: January 5, 2016

 21 Françoise Hardy

Françoise Hardy
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 17, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France

 22 Thomas Bangalter

Thomas Bangalter
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Famous As: Disc jockey, Singer, Guitarist, Director, Composer, Screenwriter, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: January 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tlaxcala

French musician Thomas Bangalter had been part of the six-time Grammy-winning electronic music duo Daft Punk for 28 years, before it split. Known for wearing their signature helmets while performing, he and his partner, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, released iconic hits such as Da Funk and Get Lucky.

 23 Manu Chao

Manu Chao
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: June 21, 1961
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France

Born to Spanish parents in Paris, Latin Grammy-winning artist Manu Chao is one of the pioneers of Latin alternative rock. His French rock band Mano Negra has delivered hits in English, Spanish, and Arabic. His solo career has seen him release international hits such as Clandestino and Me Gustas Tu.

 24 Jain

Jain
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 7, 1992
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toulouse, France

 25 Bilal Hassani

Bilal Hassani.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 9, 1999
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris

Bilal Hassani is a French YouTuber, singer, and songwriter. He achieved international recognition in 2019 when he represented France at the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. He managed to score 105 points in the Eurovision final, finishing 16th. In 2019, he was also honored at the NRJ Music Awards with the Francophone Breakthrough of the Year award.

 26 Fab Morvan

Fab Morvan
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Famous As: Model, Singer, Dancer, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 14, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris

 27 Thomas Mars

Thomas Mars.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: April 15, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Versailles, France

Phoenix lead vocalist Thomas Mars once spoke about how he had cut off everything that could distract him from making a potential career in music during college. He met Sofia Coppola while composing for one of her films, and the duo got married, leading to more collaborations.

 28 Indila

Indila
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: June 26, 1984
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France

Adila Sedraïa, or Indila, began her career as a composer and even wrote songs for artists such as Axel Tony and Admiral T. She earned a label deal after collaborating with Youssoupha on the song Dreamin’ and reached No. 2 on the French charts with her debut track Dernière danse.

 29 Alexandre Desplat

Alexandre Desplat
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Famous As: Composer, Music educator, Film score composer
Birthdate: August 23, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris

 30 Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 25, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 3, 1875

Georges Bizet was a French composer whose career was cut short by his untimely demise at the age of 36. Since his death in 1875, Bizet's final work Carmen has become one of the most frequently performed works in the opera repertoire. Although he couldn’t achieve success during his lifetime, Bizet's death is considered a loss to French musical theatre.

 31 M. Pokora

M. Pokora
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 26, 1985
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France

 32 Amanda Lear

Amanda Lear
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: June 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

 33 Anggun

Anggun
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 29, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Jakarta, Indonesia

 34 Khatia Buniatishvili

Khatia Buniatishvili
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: June 21, 1987
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Batumi, Adjar SSR, Georgian SSR, USSR

 35 Gabriel Fauré

Gabriel Fauré.
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Famous As: French Composer & Pianist
Birthdate: May 12, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pamiers, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, France
Died: November 4, 1924

One of the greatest composers of all time, French pianist and organist Gabriel Fauré is best remembered for his masterpieces such as Requiem. His music career began at 9, when he was sent to Paris to become a choirmaster. At 75, he was awarded the Grand-Croix of the Légion d'honneur.

 36 Willy William

Willy William
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Famous As: DJ
Birthdate: April 14, 1981
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Fréjus, France
French-Mauritian artist Willy William has made a name for himself in dance music both as a solo artist and as part of the group Collectif Métissé. His chart-topping collaborations include DJ Assad’s Li Tourner and J Balvin’s Mi Gente. He has also rocked the European charts with his solo Ego.

 37 Kavinsky

Kavinsky
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 31, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Seine-Saint-Denis, France

 38 Kendji Girac

Kendji Girac
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: July 3, 1996
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Périgueux, Aquitaine, France

 39 Madeon

Madeon
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Famous As: Disc jockey, Record producer, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 30, 1994
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nantes

 40 Richard Clayderman

Richard Clayderman
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Famous As: Pianist, Composer, Musician
Birthdate: December 28, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris

 41 Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark

Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark
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Famous As: Poet, Writer, Visual artist, Pianist
Birthdate: June 11, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Talence

Prince Henrik, husband of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, was a skilled winemaker and a talented poet, known for his flamboyant lifestyle. He had often publicly expressed his unhappiness over not being named a king and also declared he wouldn’t want to be buried next to his wife.

 42 Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1079 AD
Birthplace: Le Pallet, France
Died: April 21, 1142

Medieval French philosopher, theologian, and poet Peter Abelard was born to a knight but gave up his inheritance to study philosophy and logic. He fell in love with his pupil, Héloïse, but her uncle got Abelard castrated, following which Abelard became a monk and made Héloïse a nun.

 43 Mylène Farmer

Mylène Farmer
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Writer, Singer, Actor, Musician, Children's writer, Poet
Birthdate: September 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pierrefonds, Quebec

French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer is best known for her hits such as Libertine and Les Mots, and for her collaborative acts with Laurent Boutonnat. Born Mylene Jeanne Gautier, she later changed her name to Mylene Farmer in honor of Hollywood star Frances Farmer, who was her idol.

 44 Alfred Cortot

Alfred Cortot
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: September 26, 1877
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nyon, Switzerland
Died: June 15, 1962

 45 Romain Gary

Romain Gary.
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Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: May 21, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vilnius
Died: December 2, 1980

Romain Gary was a French novelist, diplomat, and film director of Jewish origin. He also served as an aviator during World War II. One of France’s most popular and prolific writers, he is the only author to have won the Prix Goncourt twice. He had a troubled personal life and died of suicide in 1980.

 46 Zaz

Zaz
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 1, 1980
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chambray-lès-Tours, France

 47 Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: June 20, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: October 5, 1880

 48 Francis Poulenc

Francis Poulenc.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 7, 1899
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris
Died: January 30, 1963

French composer Francis Poulenc was most self-taught, as he was not encouraged to join a music school by his pharmaceutical manufacturer father. Part of the legendary “Les Six” of French music, Poulenc was also a skilled pianist. He is also remembered for the opera Les dialogues des Carmélites.

 49 Barbara Pravi

Barbara Pravi
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 10, 1993
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France

 50 Maurice Jarre

Maurice Jarre
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: September 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: 5th arrondissement of Lyon, Lyon, France
Died: March 28, 2009