Famous French Poets

French literature has an equally rich history, just like many other languages in the world. One of the earliest forms of French literature was poetry, a form which mushroomed during the medieval ages. Historical accounts suggest that poets such as Adam de la Halle had introduced the people of France to this literary form as early as 12th century A.D. Later on, poets like Paul Verlaine penned poetic masterpieces such as ‘Poèmes Saturniens’, which marked the pinnacle of French literature. A few other individuals who played a pivotal role in popularizing this literary form in this European nation were Catherine d'Amboise, Antonin Artaud, and Guillaume Apollinaire. These people went on to inspire many others to turn towards literature and the result was evident in the later part of the 19th and 20th centuries. This era witnessed great pieces of poetry, and the rise of names such as Louis Aragon and Natalie Clifford Barney, Who took the legacy of their predecessors forward. Here we bring you a collection of biographies of some of the most famous French poets. Read on and find out all about their life stories, timelines and also 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 Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo
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Famous As: Author & Poet
Birthdate: February 26, 1802
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: May 22, 1885

Victor Hugo was a French poet, dramatist, and novelist of the Romantic movement. Regarded as one of the best-known and greatest French writers of all time, Victor Hugo wrote abundantly during his career that spanned over six decades. Thanks to his works, such as Hernani and Cromwell, Victor Hugo was one of the leading figures of the Romantic literary movement.

 2 Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 9, 1821
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: August 31, 1867
French prose poet, essayist, and critic Charles Baudelaire was one of the first translators of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Best known for his book of poems Les Fleurs du mal, he is believed to have coined the word modernity and was associated with the symbolist and decadent movements.
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 3 Arthur Rimbaud

Arthur Rimbaud
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 20, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: November 10, 1891

French poet Arthur Rimbaud is remembered for his influence on Dadaism, surrealism, and symbolism. Known for works such as Le Soleil Etait Encore Chaud and Voyelles, he later got involved in a relationship with poet Paul Verlaine. He also traveled as a merchant and explorer, before dying of cancer.

 4 Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant
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Famous As: Novelist & Short Story Writer
Birthdate: August 5, 1850
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: July 6, 1893

Guy de Maupassant was a French author who wrote 300 short stories during his illustrious career. Widely regarded as the father of the modern short story, Maupassant's stories are characterized by economy of style and depicted human lives in pessimistic terms,

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 5 Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau
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Famous As: Novelist, Poet, Artist & Filmmaker
Birthdate: July 5, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: October 11, 1963
While Jean Cocteau preferred calling himself a poet, his multidimensional works consisted of novels such as Les Enfants Terribles and films directed by him such as La Belle et la Bête. Cocteau relied on motifs such as eyes, blood, and mirrors, and mingled mythology and modernism.

 6 Paul Verlaine

Paul Verlaine
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 30, 1844
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: January 8, 1896

Paul Verlaine was a French poet best remembered for his association with the Decadent movement and the Symbolist movement. He is regarded as one of the most important representatives of the fin de siècle in French and international poetry. His poetry served as an inspiration for composers like Gabriel Fauré, who composed several mélodies based on Verlaine's poems.

 7 Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi
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Famous As: Graphic Novelist
Birthdate: November 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French, Iranian

Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novelist, illustrator, cartoonist, children's book author, and film director. Satrapi achieved international recognition in the early-2000s after releasing her critically acclaimed graphic novels. She is best known for writing and directing an animated biographical drama film titled Persepolis, which received nominations at prestigious award ceremonies, such as the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globes.

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 8 Dora Maar

Dora Maar
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Famous As: Photographer, Artist, Painter, Poet, Choreographer, Sculptor, Model
Birthdate: November 22, 1907
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: July 16, 1997

 9 Andre Breton

Andre Breton
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Famous As: Founder of Surrealism
Birthdate: February 19, 1896
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: September 28, 1966

Born into a family of shopkeepers, French poet André Breton initially studied medicine and psychiatry. He then joined Dadaism and eventually branched out and became one of the pioneers of the surrealist movement. Known for his Surrealist Manifestos, Breton was also a collector of manuscripts, sculptures, and paintings.

 10 Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1079 AD
Nationality: French
Died: April 21, 1142

 11 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
Nationality: Canadian, French

 12 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
Nationality: Danish, French

 13 François Rabelais

François Rabelais
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 4, 1494
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: April 9, 1553

François Rabelais was a French writer, Renaissance humanist, physician, monk, and Greek scholar. Regarded as one of the great writers by Western literary critics, Rabelais is also considered one of the creators of modern European writing. He is remembered for Gargantua and Pantagruel, a pentalogy of novels that are regarded as one of the earliest forms of the modern novel.

 14 Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 25, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French, Italian
Died: November 9, 1918

 15 Savitri Devi

Savitri Devi
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Famous As: Writer, Poet
Birthdate: September 30, 1905
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: October 22, 1982

 16 Bertrand Cantat

Bertrand Cantat
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Famous As: Singer, Guitarist, Lyricist, Singer-songwriter, Poet
Birthdate: March 5, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French

 17 Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine
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Famous As: Writer, Poet, Lawyer
Birthdate: July 8, 1621
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: April 13, 1695

 18 Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
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Famous As: Poet & Author
Birthdate: 1364 AD
Nationality: French
Died: 1430 AD
Christine de Pizan took up writing at 25, primarily to support her three children following her husband’s death. Starting with ballads, she later narrated the heroics of women in masterpieces such as The Book of the City of Ladies. She was also a court poet of French king Charles VI.

 19 Aime Cesaire

Aime Cesaire
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: June 26, 1913
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: April 17, 2008

 20 Arthur de Gobineau

Arthur de Gobineau
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Famous As: Racial theorist, Philosopher, Writer, Diplomat, Poet, Novelist, Sociologist, Politician
Birthdate: July 14, 1816
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: October 13, 1882

 21 Stéphane Mallarmé

Stéphane Mallarmé
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 18, 1842
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: September 9, 1898

Stéphane Mallarmé was a French poet whose work inspired many artistic schools of the 20th century like Surrealism, Futurism, Dadaism, and Cubism. Over the years, his poetry has also served as an inspiration for many musical pieces, including Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. Mallarmé's work also influenced Man Ray's film, Les Mystères du Château de Dé.

 22 Georges Perec

Georges Perec
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Famous As: Writer, Film director, Screenwriter, Poet, Novelist, Essayist, Librarian, Literary critic
Birthdate: March 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: March 3, 1982

 23 Tristan Tzara

Tristan Tzara
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Famous As: Art collector, Poet, Writer, Diplomat, Film director, Translator, Playwright, Essayist, Composer, Musician, Performance artist, Literary critic
Birthdate: April 16, 1896
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: December 25, 1963

 24 Guillaume de Machaut

Guillaume de Machaut
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1300 AD
Nationality: French
Died: April 13, 1377

 25 Emmanuelle Riva

Emmanuelle Riva
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Famous As: Actor, Photographer, Poet
Birthdate: February 24, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: January 27, 2017

 26 Chris Marker

Chris Marker
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Famous As: Film producer, Film critic, Film director, Photographer, Artist, Screenwriter, Film editor, Television producer, Multimedia artist, Journalist, Cinematographer, Teacher, Poet
Birthdate: July 29, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: July 29, 2012

 27 Paul Éluard

Paul Éluard
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Famous As: French poet
Birthdate: December 14, 1895
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: November 18, 1952

 28 Jean Arp

Jean Arp
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Famous As: Sculptor
Birthdate: September 16, 1886
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German, French
Died: June 7, 1966

 29 Boris Vian

Boris Vian
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Famous As: Polymath, Singer, Poet, Trumpeter, Lyricist, Painter, Translator, Engineer, Librettist, Playwright, Journalist, Writer, Songwriter, Musician, Composer, Screenwriter, Jazz musician, Literary critic, Music journalist
Birthdate: March 10, 1920
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: June 23, 1959

 30 Francis Picabia

Francis Picabia
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Famous As: Painter, Writer, Screenwriter, Poet
Birthdate: January 22, 1879
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: November 30, 1953

 31 Paul Valery

Paul Valery
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 30, 1871
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: July 20, 1945

Paul Valery was a French poet, philosopher, and essayist. Thanks to his immense contribution to literature, Valery received several nominations for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. The title of the 2013 Japanese animated historical drama film The Wind Rises was inspired by one of Paul Valery's verses. Also, his poem Palme inspired James Merrill's celebrated poem, Lost in Translation.

 32 Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Zamyatin
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 1, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: March 10, 1937

 33 Jacques Prévert

Jacques Prévert
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 4, 1900
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: April 11, 1977

 34 Adam de la Halle

Adam de la Halle
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Famous As: composer, writer, poet, trouvère
Birthdate: 1220 AD
Nationality: French
Died: 1288 AD

 35 Gaston Bachelard

Gaston Bachelard
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Famous As: Philosopher, Poet, Writer, University teacher
Birthdate: June 27, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: October 16, 1962

 36 Alphonse Daudet

Alphonse Daudet
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Famous As: Novelist, Short story writer, playwright, poet
Birthdate: May 13, 1840
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: December 16, 1897

Alphonse Daudet was a French novelist whose books are still widely read in France. He often collaborated with his wife Julia Daudet, a famous writer, poet, and journalist. Today, several schools and colleges in France are named in his honor.

 37 Charles Maurras

Charles Maurras
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 20, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: November 16, 1952

 38 Georges Brassens

Georges Brassens
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 22, 1921
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: October 29, 1981

 39 François Villon

François Villon
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Famous As: poet, writer
Birthdate: April 1, 1431
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: 1464 AD

 40 Alfred Jarry

Alfred Jarry
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Famous As: Playwright, Writer, Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: September 8, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: November 1, 1907

 41 Adah Isaacs Menken

Adah Isaacs Menken
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: June 15, 1835
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French, American
Died: August 10, 1868

 42 Alphonse de Lamartine

Alphonse de Lamartine
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 21, 1790
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: February 28, 1869

 43 Alfred de Musset

Alfred de Musset
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Famous As: Dramatist, Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: December 11, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 2, 1857

 44 Alfred Musset

Alfred Musset
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Famous As: French dramatist
Birthdate: December 11, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 2, 1857

 45 Gérard de Nerval

Gérard de Nerval
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 25, 1808
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: January 26, 1855

 46 Charles of Valois

Charles of Valois
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 12, 1270
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: December 16, 1325

 47 Edmond Rostand

Edmond Rostand
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Famous As: Playwright, Writer, Poet, Essayist, Screenwriter
Birthdate: April 1, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: December 2, 1918

 48 Louis Aragon

Louis Aragon
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Famous As: Writer, Journalist, Politician, Poet, Novelist, Art critic
Birthdate: October 3, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: December 24, 1982

 49 Marie De France

Marie De France
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Famous As: French poet
Birthdate: 1160 AD
Nationality: French
Died: 1215 AD

 50 Max Jacob

Max Jacob
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Famous As: Painter, Poet, Writer, Literary critic
Birthdate: July 12, 1876
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: March 5, 1944