There are numerous famous French people, including artists, inventors, and scholars. In addition, France’s historical legends have influenced various media, including literature, film, and art.

Discover famous French people

Today, we will delve into the lives of the most famous French people, including their greatest victories and tragedies. Every person on this list has significantly impacted French culture, transforming it into the prestigious sight we see today.

7 most famous French people

We organized this article into categories such as people in fashion, literature, performing arts, and so on to make it easier for you to categorize.

Famous French people in Fashion

Coco Chanel

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chane, born on August 19, 1883, was a well-known French designer and the founder of the luxury fashion brand Chanel. She transformed women’s fashion with her sporty, casual style, quickly replacing the cinched waist look that had been popular for years.

She later ventured into jewellery, handbags, and fragrance design. Chanel No. 5, like the little black dress, remains her signature fragrance. Since the roaring 1920s, Chanel’s fashion empire has created numerous world-changing designs under her iconic interlocked CC monogram.

Coco Chanel

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s designs gained popularity among the elite during Napoleon III’s reign. Napoleon asked Louis to design specialized luggage for his wife to pack and transport her “fashions.”

Vuitton seized the opportunity and quickly established itself among France’s elite, designing and producing fashionable, long-lasting, and luxurious suitcases. Louis Vuitton (1821-1892), a French designer, founded his namesake label in 1854 to produce high-quality leather and classic pieces.

What began as a box-making and packing store quickly evolved into a new concept designed by Vuitton.  An entirely new trunk made of lighter canvas proved more durable and resistant to water and odours than leather.

Louis Vuitton

The key selling point of the innovative design was a rectangular shape rather than a dome.

Famous French People in Arts

Claude Monet

Oscar-Claude Monet was one of the most well-known French painters of his time.  This well-known artist pioneered impressionist painting, which many regard as a critical precursor to modernism, particularly in his approach to painting nature as his brilliant mind saw it. He died on December 5, 1925.

Interestingly, Claude Monet received his first drawing lessons from Jacques-François Ochard, a former art student of Jacques-Louis David. Monet was an expert in Plein air, or outdoor landscape painting.

His talent inspired him to coin the term Impressionism, which came from one of his most famous paintings, Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise).

His other notable works include The Woman in the Green Dress and Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. It’s not surprising that French artists are well-known; after all, their culture is rich in the arts, and they are extremely talented artists. Other notable painters include Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque, and Henri Matisse.

Claude Monet

Famous French People in Performing Arts

Jean Reno

Jean Reno, a well-known French actor, has appeared in French and English films.

He began his acting career at the age of 17 by attending a drama school and working in small roles before collaborating with director Luc Besson, which marked the beginning of Reno’s success story.

Reno’s acting career began in French films, with two standout performances in Les Visiteurs (1993) and L’Enquète Corse (2004), for which he received widespread acclaim.

However, he has also appeared in highly successful American films such as French Kiss (1995), Jet Lag (2002) with Juliette Binoche, Mission: Impossible (1996), and Godzilla (1998). Ponton, from Pink Panther, is a well-known and beloved character.

For his roles in The Big Blue, Les Visiteurs, and Léon: The Professional, he received César Award nominations for Best Actor.

Jean Reno

Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve, a French woman born in 1943 to two actors, did not have to wait long to make her film debut. This French actress made her film debut at 14 and has since appeared in several minor roles.

However, in 1963, she was given a more significant role in a film and the following year, she played the role she is best known for in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Catherine’s other notable roles include Belle de Jour and the 2002 film Eight Women.

Catherine Deneuve

Famous French People in Literature

Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was an existentialist philosopher, author, and feminist activist. Even though she lacked the necessary credentials to be called a philosopher, her enormous impact on feminist existentialism and feminist theory cannot be overstated.

Some of her most popular works include The Second Sex (1949), She Came to Stay (1943), and The Mandarins (1954).  Her memoirs, however, have lasted the longest and continue to influence feminist activists today. Her first book, Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée (1958), is the best known.

Throughout her writing career, she won numerous awards, including the Prix Goncourt (1954), the Jerusalem Prize (1975), and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (1978).

Simone De Beauvoir

Jules Verne

Jules Verne was a novelist, poet, and playwright whose stories captivated the world. His most famous works include Around the World in Eighty Days (1872), Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870), and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864).

He has also written several plays, short stories, poems, and songs that have received widespread acclaim. His name has been ranked alongside greats such as Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare.

Jules Verne

In addition, he has been the second-most translated author since 1979, which explains his inherited title as the “father of science fiction.”

French-speaking countries have a range of famous people who have added to the rich history and culture of France. Knowing about these famous French people is not only fascinating but highly motivating as well.  

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Frequently asked questions

Who is the most famous French writer?

One of the most famous French writers is Victor Hugo, known for works like “Les Misérables” and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.”

Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize?

Marie Curie, a French-Polish physicist and chemist, was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and remains the only person to win Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields.

Who painted the Mona Lisa?

Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian artist, painted the Mona Lisa, now housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris.


French history and culture have been greatly enriched by the contributions of many famous individuals. From writers and artists to scientists and political leaders, these figures have left a lasting legacy that inspires and influences people worldwide.

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