Famous French Scientists

Dating back to the seventeenth century—when King Louis XIV established the first institute for scientific research named ‘Acádémie des Sciences’—technology and science in France have come a long way. The development of groundbreaking inventions like radioactivity, refrigerators, photography and parachutes, amongst others, have made French scientists famous all over the world. France lays claim to being a major exporter of nuclear technology, as well as the inventor of safe radioactive waste disposal methods. Many utilitarian innovations have been made by French scientists; these famous scientists have won the prestigious ‘Nobel Prize’ for their invaluable contribution to the advancement of human society. Science would not have been the same had it not been for scientists like Henri Becquerel, who discovered ‘Radioactivity’; Antoine Lavoisier, who proposed the ‘Conservation of Mass’ theory and Blaise Pascal, who came up with the ‘Probability Theory’. French scientists have always been leading contributors to the world’s scientific advancements, be it in the field of chemistry, or molecular biology or radiology or the physical sciences. To know more, explore the collection of biographies of some of the most famous French scientists. Read for more information about their life stories, timelines along with interesting facts & trivia related to them.

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 Marie Curie

Marie Curie
13
Famous As: First woman to win a Nobel Prize
Birthdate: November 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French, Polish
Died: July 4, 1934
Amongst the most notable scientists of her time, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the sole person to win two Nobel Prize in two different category, and the first woman professor at the University of Paris—Marie Curie’s list of achievements is incredible. She did extensive research in the field of radioactivity and discovered polonium and radium.

 2 Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur
2
Famous As: Chemist and Microbiologist
Birthdate: December 27, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
Died: September 28, 1895
Considered one of the founders of bacteriology, Louis Pasteur created vaccines for anthrax and rabies, and invented the process of heating food and wine to kill microbes that cause contamination, which was named pasteurization after him. Known as the “father of microbiology,” he also founded the Pasteur Institute in Paris.  

 3 René Déscartes

René Déscartes
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher and Writer
Birthdate: March 31, 1596
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: February 11, 1650
René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, laid down the idea of rationalism, later followed by Spinoza and Leibniz. Descartes also contributed to the field of analytical geometry and led to the Cartesian coordinate system being named after him. His Meditations on First Philosophy is still taught at many universities.

 4 Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier
2
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 26, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: May 8, 1794

Antoine Lavoisier was a French chemist and nobleman. He played a crucial role during the chemical revolution of the 18th-century. Widely regarded as the father of modern chemistry, Lavoisier had a major influence on the history of biology as well as the history of chemistry. He also helped build the metric system. 

 5 Pierre Curie

Pierre Curie
9
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: May 15, 1859
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: April 19, 1906

A pioneer in crystallography, radioactivity, piezoelectricity, and magnetism, Pierre Curie was a French physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie. Despite being an atheist, Pierre Curie was fascinated by spiritualism as he believed that spiritual questions deal with physics. 

 6 Joseph Fourier

Joseph Fourier
2
Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: March 21, 1768
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: May 16, 1830

Joseph Fourier was a French physicist and mathematician best remembered for commencing the investigation of the Fourier series, which is used widely to solve problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier's law of conduction and Fourier transform are named in his honor. Fourier is also said to have discovered the greenhouse effect.

 7 Cédric Villani

Cédric Villani
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: October 5, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
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 8 Henri Becquerel

Henri Becquerel
2
Famous As: Physicist, Discoverer of Radioactivity
Birthdate: December 15, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: August 25, 1908
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 9 Luc Montagnier

Luc Montagnier
2
Famous As: Physician, Biologist, Virologist, Researcher, Professor, Scientist
Birthdate: August 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French

 10 Andre Marie Ampere

Andre Marie Ampere
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: January 20, 1775
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
Died: June 10, 1836
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 11 Pierre-Simon Laplace

Pierre-Simon Laplace
7
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: March 23, 1749
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: March 5, 1827

Though French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace is primarily known for his work on the solar system, his research extended to areas such as mathematics and physics, apart from astronomy. Widely known as the Newton of France, he escaped being executed during the French Revolution, owing to his lack of political views.

 12 Louis de Broglie

Louis de Broglie
2
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: March 19, 1987

Louis de Broglie was a French aristocrat and physicist who made important contributions to quantum theory. His de Broglie hypothesis, which suggests that all matter has wave properties, is one of the most important features in the theory of quantum mechanics. In 1929, de Broglie was honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work.

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 13 Henri Poincare

Henri Poincare
0
Famous As: Mathematician and Philosopher
Birthdate: April 29, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: July 17, 1912
Known as The Last Universalist for his expertise in a variety of domains, French mathematician Henri Poincare conducted research that formed the basis of the modern chaos theory. Apart from his work on relativity and the three-body problem, he also laid the foundation of algebraic topology.

 14 Alexander Grothendieck

Alexander Grothendieck
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: March 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: November 13, 2014
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 15 Évariste Galois

Évariste Galois
5
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 25, 1811
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: May 31, 1832

Évariste Galois was a French mathematician best remembered for solving a 350-year-old problem when he was still in his teens. His work formed the basis for group theory and Galois theory, two important branches of abstract algebra. Also a political activist, Évariste Galois died at the age of 20 after suffering wounds in a duel.

 16 René Girard

René Girard
0
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 25, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
Died: November 4, 2015

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.

 17 Charles-Augustin de Coulomb

Charles-Augustin de Coulomb
0
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: June 14, 1736
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 23, 1806

 18 Adrien-Marie Legendre

Adrien-Marie Legendre
2
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 18, 1752
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: January 10, 1833

 19 Pierre de Fermat

Pierre de Fermat
0
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: August 17, 1601
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: January 12, 1665

 20 Frédéric Joliot-Curie

Frédéric Joliot-Curie
0
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 19, 1900
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: August 14, 1958

Frédéric Joliot-Curie was a French physicist whose discovery of artificial radioactivity earned him the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which was jointly awarded to Frédéric and his wife Irène Joliot-Curie. Along with his wife, Frédéric is credited with founding the Orsay Faculty of Sciences, a physics and mathematics school within Paris-Saclay University. He had also won the Stalin Peace Prize.

 21 Vilfredo Pareto

Vilfredo Pareto
0
Famous As: Economist, Writer, Philosopher, Sociologist, University teacher
Birthdate: July 15, 1848
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French, Italian
Died: August 19, 1923

 22 Joseph Louis Lagrange

Joseph Louis Lagrange
0
Famous As: Mathematician and Astronomer
Birthdate: January 25, 1736
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French, Italian
Died: April 10, 1813

 23 Georges Cuvier

Georges Cuvier
0
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: August 23, 1769
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: May 13, 1832

 24 Émilie du Châtelet

Émilie du Châtelet
0
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: December 17, 1706
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: September 10, 1749

 25 Sophie Germain

Sophie Germain
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: April 1, 1776
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: June 27, 1831

 26 Augustin-Louis Cauchy

Augustin-Louis Cauchy
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: August 21, 1789
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: May 23, 1857

 27 Marquis de Condorcet

Marquis de Condorcet
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 17, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: March 28, 1794

 28 Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
0
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: September 7, 1707
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: April 16, 1788

 29 Pierre Joliot

Pierre Joliot
0
Famous As: Biologist, Biochemist, Professor
Birthdate: March 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French

 30 Charles Augustin De Coulomb

Charles Augustin De Coulomb
0
Famous As: French physicist
Birthdate: June 14, 1736
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 23, 1806

 31 Éleuthère Irénée du Pont

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont
0
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: June 24, 1771
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French, American
Died: October 31, 1834

 32 Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon
0
Famous As: Physician, Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Historian, Sociologist
Birthdate: May 7, 1841
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: December 13, 1931

 33 Sadi Carnot

Sadi Carnot
0
Famous As: Physicist and Scientist
Birthdate: June 1, 1796
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 24, 1832

 34 Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
0
Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: May 9, 1850

 35 Pope Silvester II

Pope Silvester II
0
Famous As: Pope
Birthdate: 0946 AD
Nationality: French
Died: May 12, 1003

 36 Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Philosopher And Musical Intellectual
Birthdate: November 16, 1717
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: October 29, 1783

 37 Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard
0
Famous As: Molecular biologist, Photographer, Bhikkhu, Writer, Translator
Birthdate: February 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French

 38 Paul Langevin

Paul Langevin
0
Famous As: Physicist, Professor, Chemist, Philosopher of science, Educationist, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: January 23, 1872
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: December 19, 1946

 39 Claude Bernard

Claude Bernard
0
Famous As: Physiologist
Birthdate: July 12, 1813
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: February 10, 1878

 40 Abraham de Moivre

Abraham de Moivre
0
Famous As: Mathematician, Statistician
Birthdate: May 26, 1667
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: November 27, 1754

 41 Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Giovanni Domenico Cassini
0
Famous As: Astronomer and Mathematician
Birthdate: June 8, 1625
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French, Italian
Died: September 14, 1712

 42 Charles Lucien Bonaparte

Charles Lucien Bonaparte
0
Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: May 24, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: July 29, 1857

 43 Alexis Carrel

Alexis Carrel
0
Famous As: Surgeon, Biologist
Birthdate: June 28, 1873
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: November 5, 1944

 44 Audrey Mestre

Audrey Mestre
0
Famous As: Free-diver, Marine biologist
Birthdate: August 11, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: October 12, 2002

 45 Siméon Denis Poisson

Siméon Denis Poisson
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: April 25, 1840

 46 Paul Broca

Paul Broca
0
Famous As: Physician, Anatomist, Anthropologist, Neuroscientist, Scientist, Politician
Birthdate: June 28, 1824
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: July 9, 1880

 47 Guillaume Le Gentil

Guillaume Le Gentil
0
Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: September 12, 1725
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: October 22, 1792

 48 Andre Weil

Andre Weil
0
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 6, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: August 6, 1998

 49 Jacques Charles

Jacques Charles
0
Famous As: Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: April 7, 1823

 50 Augustin-Jean Fresnel

Augustin-Jean Fresnel
0
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: July 14, 1827