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France

Famous French People: French Artists, Scientists, Leaders, Musicians, Politicians and Athletes

Daring dreamers are great achievers! This category of French daring dreamers changed the past, shaped the modern world and build the future! No matter if we speak about scientists who changed the way people understood the universe, past and present dynamic leaders, famous writers or artists, they are simply remarkable individuals! They have one thing in common: are not easy to stereotype. These people of purpose made a difference in our world.

:: List of Famous People from France ::

Albert Camus:

He was born in Mondovi, French Algeria, in 1913, and he died in a car accident in Villeblevin, France, in 1960. He was a French journalist, novelist, essayist, philosopher and playwright who is considered an important representative of existentialism, even if he rejected that classification. His works developed a different vision of humanism based on the absurdity of human condition, which contributed to the philosophy of absurdism. He was the first African born and the second youngest author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1957), and also the one who lived the shortest life after receiving the prize (he died two years after being awarded with it). These were the words that accompanied his Nobel Prize: "For his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times". Some of his most important works are the essay “The Rebel” (1951) and the novels “The Stranger” (1942) and “The Plague” (1947). In 2009, the Spanish magazine “Gotas de tinta” created the International Literature Prize “Albert Camus”.

Alexandre Dumas (Father and son):

Alexandre Dumas, father, was born in Villers-Cotterêts, France, in 1802 and died in Puys, France, in 1870. His birth name was Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie. This playwright and novelist is one of the most widely French authors in the world, famous for his historical and adventure novels such as “The three musketeers”, “The count of Monte Cristo”, “Twenty years after” and “The vicompte de Bragelonne”. There’s a metro station in Paris named Alexandre Dumas in his honor since 1970. Since 1883, there’s a monument dedicated to Dumas and to one of his most famous characters, D’Artagnan, in Malesherbes in Paris.

Also, Alexandre Dumas, the son, was a recognized French writer, novelist and dramatist. He was born in Paris in 1824 and died in Marly-le-Roi, France, in 1895. His most representative works are the semi-autobiographical novel “The Clemenceau Case” (1867) and “The Lady of the Camellias” (1848). He’s buried in the Montmartre cemetery in Paris.

Armand Peugeot:

Born in Hérimoncourt, Montbéliard, France in 1849, he was a French industrialist and pioneer of the automobile industry who created the famous car manufacturing company Peugeot. In 1913, when Peugeot was the largest car manufacturer in France, he left his work at the firm. He died in Paris in 1915.

André Citroën:

André-Gustave Citroën was born in Paris in 1878 and died in the same city in 1935. He was a French engineer and entrepreneur who founded the car manufacturer Citroën in 1919. He’s also known for being a pioneer in the use of double helical gears and front-wheel drive. His whole career was inspired by the visionary works of Jules Verne. He was very innovative in his great scale advertising and marketing. The Parc André Citroën public garden in Paris is named after him. He’s part of the Automobile Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, since 1998.

André Gide:

André Paul Guillaume Gide was born in Paris in 1869 and died in the same city in 1951. He was a French writer whose works were marked by his homosexual orientation and he was known for his defense of the rights of the homosexuals. In 1947, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was a close friend of Oscar Wilde. Important authors like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre were influenced by Gide’s works. In 1952, the Roman Catholic Church included his works on the Index of Forbidden Books. One of his best known works is “The Immoralist” (1902).

Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

“I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man's self-respect is a sin.”

Born as Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry in Lyon, France, in 1900, he was a French aviator and writer best known for his famous books “Le petit prince” (The little prince) (1943), “Vol de nuit” (Night flight) (1931) and “Terre des hommes” (Wind, sand and stars) (1939). He wrote stories about aviation adventures and mixed some of his experiences with philosophical subjects, like he did in “The little prince”. In 1944, his aircraft disappeared over the Mediterranean and it was not until 2008 that a German soldier, Horst Rippert, confessed to have taken down the plane without knowing that the writer was on it.

Audrey Tautou:

Audrey Justine Tautou was born in Beaumont, France, in 1976. The most famous character that this film actress has interpreted is Amélie Poulain in the French-German production “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” (“Amélie”) (2001), by the French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also chose her as the leading actress for his film “Un Long dimanche de fiançailles” (“A very long engagement”) in 2004. After the success of “Amélie” she gained world fame and co-starred The American film “The Da Vinci code” with Tom Hanks. She recently interpreted Madame Chanel in the film “Coco avant Chanel” (“Coco before Chanel”), and she’s also been the advertising face of the fragrance Chanel No.5. She’s part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2006.

Bob Sinclair:

Born as Christophe Le Friant in Douarnenez, France, in 1969, Bob Sinclair is a French musician, record producer, electronic music DJ and remixer who became internationally famous with the successful singles “Love generation”, which was one of the official anthems for the 2006 Berlin World Cup, and “World hold on”. He owns the label Yellow Productions.

Brigitte Bardot

The legendary French actress former fashion model, singer and animal welfare/rights activist caused quite a sensation worldwide! She is one of the best examples of female sensuality in the 1960s and was named in 2007 among Empire’s 100 Sexiest Film Stars. The role in controversial film And God Created Woman made Brigitte internationally famous. Bardot starred in 48 films, performed in various musical shows and recorded 80 songs.

Brigitte Bardot starred alongside famous actors such as Alain Delon (Famous Love Affairs, Spirits of the Dead), Jean Gabin (In Case of Adversity), Sean Connery (Shalako), Jean Marais (Royal Affairs in Versailles, School for Love), Lino Ventura (Rum Runners), Annie Girardot (The Novices), Claudia Cardinale (The Legend of Frenchie King), Jeanne Moreau (Viva Maria!), Jane Birkin (Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman).

Claude Monet:

Claude Oscar Monet was born in Paris in 1840 and died in Giverny in 1926. He was a famous French painter, one of the founders and of the most relevant and pure figures of Impressionism, term that comes from the title of one of his paintings, “Impression, Soleil levant” (Impression, Sunrise). He’s best known for his predilection for plein-air landscape painting.

Claude Lévi-Strauss:

He was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1908 and died in Paris in 2009. Known as “the father of modern anthropology”, he was considered one of the most important French ethnologist and anthropologists, as well as the founder and one of the main figures of the structuralism. In 1973, he became a member of the French Academy. One of his best known works is “Tristes tropiques” (1955).

Charles Baudelaire:

"There is an invincible taste for prostitution in the heart of man, from which comes his horror of solitude. He wants to be 'two'. The man of genius wants to be 'one'... It is this horror of solitude, the need to lose oneself in the external flesh, that man nobly calls 'the need to love".

Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet, translator and arts critic; he was born in Pairs in 1821 and died in the same city in 1867. Known as a poète maudit (accursed poet) for the evil vision and the decadence that characterize his works and for his abuses of alcohol and drugs, he was the poet that had the most influence on French symbolism, and his works are considered classics of French literature. He was raised by the family maid, Mariette, who appears in one of the poems of his most representative work, the book of poetry “Les fleurs du mal” (“The flowers of evil”). His writings were very influenced by Théophile Gautier, Joseph de Maistre and Edgar Allan Poe, many of whose works were translated by Baudelaire.

Christian Dior:

“Women are most fascinating between the ages of 35 and 40 after they have won a few races and know how to pace themselves. Since few women ever pass 40, maximum fascination can continue indefinitely.”

He was born in Granville, Manche, France in 1905 and died in Montecatini, Italy, in 1957. He was one of the most famous fashion designers of all times and the founder of one of the world’s most representative fashion houses and luxury brands during the 20th and 21st Centuries: Christian Dior. The so called “New Look” that characterized Dior’s designs was determinant for the reestablishment of Paris as the center of the fashion world after World War II. Christian Dior adored the glamour of Eva Perón, and also dressed other relevant figures such as Diana, Princess of Wales; first lady of France, Carla Bruni; and Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo.

Coco Chanel
"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance."

Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel was a pioneering fashion designer, a leader in taste, whose revolutionary philosophy, modernist framework for women's fashions, menswear-inspired designs and distinctive "haute bohemian" made her one of the most famous women entrepreneurs of the 20th century. She rose from being an ordinary seamstress to reigning as the queen of fashion. TIME Magazine stated that her influence on haute couture was one of such great importance, that Chanel was declared TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

A self-made millionaire and founder of the first fashion empire, Coco Chanel was the embodiment of ambition, determination, personal drive and creative vision, the expression of triumph over adversity.

Daft Punk:

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo that was born in 1993 and consists of the French musicians Thomas Bangalter (born in 1975) and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (born in 1974). The group has a style that mixes electronic music with rock, funk, techno and synth, and has played an important role in the house movement in France, especially since the late 1990s. Some of their most popular songs are “Around the world”, “Da Funk”, “One more time”, “Human after all”, “Harder better faster stronger” and “Aerodynamic”.

Edgar Morin:

Born as Edgar Nahoum in Paris in 1921, he is a French philosopher and politician of Judeo-Spanish origins who’s best known for the transdisciplinarity of his works. In 1983, he was honored with the French National Order of the Legion of Honour. He was part of the creation of the International Ethical, Scientific and Politician Collegium in 2002.

Édouard Manet:

He was born in Paris in 1832 and died in the same city in 1883. He was a famous and controversial French painter, and one of the most important figures of the transition from Realism to Impressionism. To become as good as he was, he traveled copying the paintings of big masters such as Goya, Tiziano, Rembrandt, Velásquez, Delacroix, Courbet and Daumier. Some of his first masterworks like “Olympia” and “The luncheon on the grass” are considered to be of great importance for the structuring of modern art. He was a close friend of the French novelist Émile Zola and he also knew the French painter Claude Monet.

Édith Piaf

Edith Piaf is almost universally regarded as France's greatest popular singer. Piaf rose to international stardom after the war, thanks to her very good sold single “La Vie en Rose” which was also voted as Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998. Among her famous songs are "Hymne à l'amour" (1949), "Milord" (1959), "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960), and "Padam Padam".

Edith Piaf’s unique voice, power, emotional delivery and extraordinary artistry made her an international music icon, she was the original expression of that profound sound of soul and the love of life even in the midst of the most melancholic and tragic moments of her times.

Émile Zola:

“The fate of animals is of greater importance to me than the fear of appearing ridiculous; it is indissolubly connected with the fate of men.”
He was born in Paris in 1840 and died in the same city in 1902. He was a French journalist, novelist and playwright, and the most important representative of naturalism. He played a major role on the political liberalization of France and he had great influence on the development of theatrical naturalism. His intervention on the Dreyfus case (a case in which Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French soldier, was being unfairly accused of being a spy) by means of the publication of a letter to the president called “J’accuse” on the Paris daily L’Aurore became very famous. In 1890, he refused to be part of the French Academy. Some of his best known works are “Les mystères de Marseille” and “Thérèse Raquin”, both published in 1867.

Emil Cioran

“Negation is the mind's first freedom, yet a negative habit is fruitful only so long as we exert ourselves to overcome it, adapt it to our needs; once acquired it can imprison us.”

Emil Michel Cioran was a French philosopher, essayist and author of Romanian origins; he was born in Sibiu County, Rumania (a part of Austria-Hungary at the time), in 1911 and he died in Paris in 1995. Even if he started writing in Romanian, most of his works were written in French. Very influenced by Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, his works are based on the idea of the existence as an inconvenience and express his negativism, his vision of suicide as a choice of life and his wishes of death for all men.

Eugène Delacroix

Is considered the foremost painter of the Romantic movement in France and the leader of the French Romantic school. His remarkable use of color was later to influence impressionist painters and even modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. His influence as a colorist is inestimably great. His position as one of the greatest figures of art history was assured by his Romantic daring and original qualities and by the fact that he found expression within the French tradition. He created his masterpieces under the influence of Rubens and Michelangelo.

Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Some famous paintings of him are: Liberty Guiding the People, The Sea of Galilee, The Barque of Dante, Frédéric Chopin, Mephistopheles flying over Wittenberg and many others.

Flora Tristan:

Her full name was Flore-Celestine -Therèse-Henriette Tristan-Moscoso; she was born in Paris in 1803 and died in Bordeaux in 1844. She was a French feminist and socialist thinker, activist and writer of Peruvian origins, and one of the founders of modern feminism. She was the first woman to talk about socialism and about the fight of proletarians, and Karl Marx recognized her efforts in this field. She was the grandmother of the French painter Paul Gauguin. She and Gauguin are the main characters of the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel, “El paraíso en la otra esquina” (The way to paradise).

Gérard Depardieu:

Born in Châteauroux, France, in 1948, Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu is one of the most famous and influential French actors of all times. He’s acted in more than fifty films and he’s also a director and producer (he has a production company called DD Productions). “La femme d’à côté”, by François Truffaut, was one of the films that first gave him prestige as an actor in France, and then, in the nineties, he became famous in America as well. In the year 1990, he was nominated to an Academy Award for Best Leading Actor for his performance in the film “Cyrano de Bergerac” and, in the same year, he received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance in the American film “Green Card”.

He’s also known for his role as Obelix in the Asterix films and for his role in the film “Hamlet” in 1996. He’s currently the best paid actor in France.

Gustave Flaubert:

Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen, France, in 1821 and died in the same city in 1880. He was a French writer who is currently considered one of the best western novelists of all times and an essential figure in the literature of the 19th Century. He had a great influence in Kafka’s style based on the obsession for choosing the right word when writing a text. Flaubert’s best known novels are “Madame Bovary” (1857), which was revolutionary at the time, but was then slowly accepted as a portrait of reality, and “Sentimental education” (1869). Flaubert is one of the two main representatives of realism in European literature along with Honoré de Balzac.

Honoré de Balzac:

Born in Tours, France, in 1799, this writer and playwright has been catalogued as the most important French novelist of the first half of the 19th Century and as one of the founders and main representatives of realism in European literature along with Gustave Flaubert. Balzac’s masterpiece was “La comédie humaine”, which was a collection of more than a hundred novels and plays that exhaustively described French society and life after the fall of Napoleon in 1815. His works had great influence on the writing of many important authors such as Italo Calvino, Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, Émile Zola, Fedor Dostoyevski, Charles Dickens and Friedrich Engels. Also, his works had an influence on popular culture and inspired several films. Ewelina Hanska was his wife and love of his life, but he died five months after marrying her in 1850.

Hubert de Givenchy:

“Hair style is the final tip-off whether or not a woman really knows herself.”

Born in Beauvais, France, in 1927, Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy is the famous fashion designer, founder of The House of Givenchy (1952). His most famous customers were Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Gloria Guinness, Babe Paley, the Duchess of Windsor, Mona von Bismarck and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. He retired from fashion design in 1995.

Henri Matisse:

Henri Émile Benoît Matisse was born in France in 1869 and died Nice, France, in 1954. He was a French painter, draftsman and sculptor who is considered one of the greatest artist of the 20th Century and one of the most important figures of modern art. He’s best known for his great, expressive and original use of color and drawing. Along with Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, Matisse is regarded as one of the three artists that had the most influence on the developments of painting and sculpture in the 20th Century. Some of his most representative paintings are “The knife thrower” (1947), “Beasts of the sea” (1950) and “The sorrows of the king” (1952).

Jacques Derrida:

He was born in Algeria in 1930 and died in Paris in 2004. He was a controversial French thinker and philosopher, the founder of deconstruction, and is considered one of the most important and influential contemporary thinkers. Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas describes him as “the new Immanuel Kant” and philosopher Richard Rorty as “the new Friedrich Nietzsche”. His most famous work is “Of grammatology”.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet:

Born in Roanne, Loire, France, in 1953, he is a famous French screenwriter and film director, best known internationally for his romantic comedy “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” (Amélie) (2001), which was nominated for five Academy Awards and several other film industry awards. Jeunet frequently works with the French actress Audrey Tautou, who played the role of Amélie, starred in his film “Un long dimanche de fiançailles” (A very long engagement) in 2004, and featured several commercial of Chanel N°5 perfume, which were directed by him. In 1997, he was invited to direct the fourth movie of the Hollywood Aliens series, Alien resurrection. These are some other representative films he’s written and directed: “La cité des enfants perdus” (The city of lost children) in 1995 and “Delicatessen” in 1991.

Jean-Paul Gaultier:

Born in France in 1952, he is a famous French haute couture fashion designer who created his own fashion brand, Jean Paul Gaultier, and his own line of perfumes, and who’s known to be the “enfant terrible” (bad boy) of the French fashion world. He’s also the creative director of the French leather goods company Hermès and he used to be the host of the television series Eurotrash. He’s famous for having designed the costumes of important singers and figures such as Madonna, Marilyn Manson and Kylie Minogue, and wardrobes for different films such as “The fifth element” by director Luc Besson, “Kika” by Pedro Almodóvar, “La cité des enfants perdus” (The city of lost children) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and more.

Jean de La Fontaine:

“Anyone entrusted with power will abuse it if not also animated with the love of truth and virtue, no matter whether he be a prince, or one of the people.”

Jean Reno:

Born in Casablanca, French Morocco, in 1948, and a son of Spanish parents, this famous French film, television and theatre actor’s birth name is Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez. He started acting in France, but he’s been a part of both French and English speaking movies, as well as of the Italian film “La tigre e la neve” (“The tiger and the snow”) (2005). He started acting and has continued working very closely with the French film director Luc Besson throughout his whole career as an actor, being a part of several of his films such as “L’Avant dernier”, “Nikita”, “Le Grand Bleu” and “León”, which had a big impact on his professional development and fame. Some of his best known American film performances have been in films such as “Godzilla”, “The Da Vinci code”, “The pink panther”, Mission: Impossible and Ronin.

Jean Paul Sartre:

“I am no longer sure of anything. If I satiate my desires, I sin but I deliver myself from them; if I refuse to satisfy them, they infect the whole soul.”

His birth name was Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre; he was born in Paris in 1905 and died in the same city in 1980. He was a French philosopher, playwright, political activist, screenwriter, critic, novelist and one of the main representatives of existentialism, Marxist humanism and French philosophy. In 1964, he was elected to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he refused it arguing that his norm was to decline all distinctions, and that institutions shouldn’t stand between men and culture. In 1948, the Catholic Church listed Sartre’s works in the Index of Prohibited Books. His most representative works are the trilogy “Les chemins de la liberté” (The roads to freedom) (1945-1949), “L’être et le néant” (Being and nothingness) (1943), “La nausée” (Nausea) (1938), “La transcendence de l’égo” (The transcendence of the ego) (1937) and “Les mots” (The words) (1964). The author and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir was his partner for many years.

Juliette Binoche:

Juliette Binoche was born in Paris in 1964. As one of the most famous French actresses in the past years, Binoche has been a part of more than forty French and American films. “The unbearable lightness of being” (1988), by director Philip Kaufman, was the film that first gave her international recognition. Her performance in “The English patient” next to Ralph Fiennes in 1996 was awarded with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was also nominated for the Oscars in 2000 for her interpretation in the film “Chocolat”. For some years she was the advertising face of the fragrance “Poème” by Lancôme. She’s won been a part of several charity programs and, in 2008, she published a bilingual book called "Juliette Binoche, Portraits In-Eyes".

Jules Verne:

Jules Gabriel Verne was born in Nantes, France, in 1828 and died in Amiens, France, in 1905. This French novelist is considered the “Father of science fiction” along with H. G. Wells and is the second most translated author of all times after Agatha Christie. His adventure novels tell stories about traveling through air, water and earth, which has been considered a visionary perception of what man would create and be able to do in the future: Verne talked about inventions such as the helicopter, the television, the submarine and the spaceship before they were invented by man. His most representative works are “A journey to the centre of the earth”, published in 1864; “From the earth to the moon”, in 1865; “Twenty thousand leagues under the sea”, in 1869-1870; “Around the world in eighty days”, in 1873; and “The mysterious island”, in 1875. He received the National Order of the Legion of Honor for his contributions to education and science.

La Fontaine was born in Château-Tierry, Champagne, in 1621 and died in Paris in 1695. He was the greatest and most famous French fabulist, as well as one of the most important and most widely read French poets of the 17th Century. His fables and shorts stories were illustrated and published in several editions. In 1682 he was recognized as one of the first men of letters of France and, in 1683, he became a part of the French Academy. Gustave Flaubert thought La Fontaine was the only French poet that really understood and mastered the French language before Victor Hugo. La Fontaine’s fables influenced other fabulists like Ignacy Krasicki, from Poland, and Ivan Krylov, from Russia.

Gaston Leroux:

"If I am the phantom, it is because man's hatred has made me so. If I am to be saved it is because your love redeems me." The phantom of the opera.

Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux was born in Paris in 1868 and died in Nice, France, in 1927. He was a French journalist and author who became famous for his adventure and crime novels, and who made great contributions to French detective fiction. As a journalist, he covered the Russian Revolution and was correspondent for French newspapers such as L’Écho y Le Matin. Some of his most representative works are “Le fantôm de l’opéra” (The phantom of the opera) in 1910, “Le mystère de la chambre jaune” (The mystery of the yellow room) in 1907 and “Le parfum de la dame en noir” (The perfume of the lady in black) in 1908. Leroux was the father of the French actress Madeleine Aile.

Louis Vuitton

One of the world's best-known French brands, Louis Vuitton, is often associated with the birth of modern luxury. The fashion house Vuitton is creating stylish luggage, handbags, and accessories for more than 150 years. Louis Vuitton was born in Jura, France 1821 and died in 1892. He began manufacturing trunks in Paris in 1854, and the started company went on to become one of the world's most famous fashion house of luxury goods, known especially for its designer luggage pattern: a beige-on-chestnut monogram, "LV."

Vuitton is the finest radiant artistic expression of the commitment and joint ambition to establish new standards in worldwide fashion!

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur was a world-renowned French chemist and microbiologist whose work with germs and microorganisms opened up whole new fields of scientific inquiry. He is famous for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of disease. Pasteur is best known as the inventor of pasteurization. He invented a method to stop milk and wine from causing sickness. His experiments supported the germ theory of disease, also reducing mortality from puerperal fever and he created the first vaccine for rabies. He was best known to the general public for.
He is acclaimed as one of the three main founders of microbiology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and R. Koch. He also made many discoveries in the field of chemistry. So great were Pasteur's successes that an international fund was raised to built the Louis Pasteur Institute in 1888.

Luc Besson:

Born in Paris in 1959, Luc Besson is a famous French screenwriter, film director and producer who has worked in over fifty films and received several French and international movie awards. He’s the creator of the EuropaCorp film company. He often works with French actor Jean Reno. His film “Le grand bleu” (1988) wasn’t very well received by the critics, but became a huge success and a cult film, a “film générationnel” that cautivated young people. Besson is also famous for other productions such as “The fifth element” (1997) with Milla Jovovich, “Nikita” (1990), “León” (1994), “The story of Joan of Arc” (1999), Atlantis (1991)…

Manu Chao:

José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao was born in Paris in 1991 and is a famous French folk singer and songwriter who sings in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, sometimes changing the language in the same song. Although he has one of the highest sales volumes as an artist, he’s not very famous in the English-speaking countries. Many of his songs carry freedom and left-wing messages, and they’re often about subjects like love, drugs, immigration and the life in ghettos.

Marcel Proust:

“Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”

His full name was Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust; he was born in Auteuil, France, in 1871 and died in Paris in 1922. He was a French critic, essayist and novelist who has been catalogued as one of the greatest authors of the 20th Century. His works were influenced by authors like Ruskin, whose works Proust translated extensively; Flaubert; Tolstoy; Dostoevsky; Montaigne; and Stendhal. Also, his works reflected an important influence of his homosexuality, which was unmentionable at his time. His masterpiece is “À la recherche du temps perdu” (In search of lost time), which consisted of seven parts that were published between 1913 and 1927. Proust was described as “the greatest novelist of the 20th Century” by Graham Greene, and his masterpiece as “the greatest fiction to date” by W. Somerset Maugham.

Marguerite Yourcenar:

“When two texts, or two assertions, perhaps two ideas, are in contradiction, be ready to reconcile them rather than cancel one by the other; regard them as two different facets, or two successive stages, of the same reality, a reality convincingly human just because it is complex.”

Marguerite Cleenewerck de Crayencour was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1903, was educated in France and died in Mount Desert Island, United States, in 1987. She was a French-Belgian poet, novelist, essayist and translator, and one of the most respected French authors of all times. She was the first woman to become part of the French Academy (1980) and she was also part of the Belgium Academy since 1970. Her best known novel is “Mémoires d’Hadrien” (Memoirs of Hadrian) (1951), which gave her international recognition and is regarded as a modern masterpiece for its influence on historical novels. She translated the novel “The waves”, by Virginia Wolf, in 1937; and other works of authors such as Henry James and Yukio Mishima.

Marquis de Sade:

“Never lose sight of the fact that all human felicity lies in man's imagination, and that he cannot think to attain it unless he heeds all his caprices. The most fortunate of persons is he who has the most means to satisfy his vagaries.”

Donatien Alphonse François was born in Paris in 1740 and died in Charenton, France, in 1814. He was a controversial French noble, critic, philosopher, poet and novelist who spent over 32 years of his life incarcerated in different prisons and mental hospitals due to his libertine sexuality and lifestyle, and to the contents of his works, which were often related to violence, criminality, sex and to the philosophy of living without religion’s, law’s and morality’s restrictions. Some of his works were published anonymously and many of them were written in prison. His most representative works are “Justine ou les malheurs de la vertu” (Justine) (1791), “Les 120 journées de Sodome” (The 120 days of Sodom) (1785) and “La philosophie dans le boudoir” (Philosophy in the bedroom) (1795). Important authors like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes analyzed his works and published studies about them. Also, the works of the Marquis de Sade influenced other authors such as Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Apollinaire and Rimbaud. His name is the origin of the term “sadism”.

Marcel Renault:

Born in France in 1872, he was a French industrialist and racing car driver, brother of Louis and Fernand Renault, whit whom he founded the car manufacturing company Renault in 1899. He died in 1903 after a car accident during the Paris-Madrid race.

Marie Curie

Madam Curie was not only the first woman to win the Nobel prize, but she won two Nobel prizes: in Physics 1903 and Chemistry 1911. Her pioneering discoveries and achievements in the field of radioactivity consist in the creation of a theory of radioactivity, techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes and the discovery of Radium and Polonium. Curie was the first woman scientist to win worldwide acclaim. Marie Curie, the woman who dedicated her entire life to a greater purpose and who changed the course of science!

Maurice Allais:

"In essence, the present creation of money, out of nothing by the banking system, is similar - I do not hesitate to say it in order to make people clearly realize what is at stake here - to the creation of money by counterfeiters, so rightly condemned by law."

Born in Paris in 1911, Maurice Félix Charles Allais is a French physician and economist who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1988 for “his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources." He has expressed reservations on the single European currency and on the European Constitution. He has been a professor at the École nationale supérieure de mines de Paris since 1944 as well as the director of its center of economic analysis since 1946. Some of his most important works are “À la recherche d’une discipline économique” (1943) and “L’effondrement de la théorie de la relativité” (2004).

Michel Foucault:

“Madness is the absolute break with the work of art; it forms the constitutive moment of abolition, which dissolves in time the truth of the work of art”.

Paul-Michel Foucault was born in Poitiers, France, in 1926 and died in Paris in 1984. He was an important French philosopher, sociologist and historian who’s best known for his critics to social institutions. He considered himself a Nietzschean. He was a professor in several French and American universities. Some of his best known works are “Histoire de la sexualité” (The history of sexuality), published in 1984, and “Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique” (Madness and civilization), in 1961.

Montesquieu:

Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu was born in Gironde, France, in 1689 and died in Paris in 1755. He was a French chronicler and political thinker, and is considered one of the most important and influential essayists and philosophers of all times, especially for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is one of the foundations of the constitutions of many of today’s nations worldwide. He lived during the Era of the Enlightenment. He had a great influence on the popularization of the terms feudalism and Byzantine Empire. Two of his most representative works are “De l’esprit des lois” (The spirit of the laws) (1748) and “Lettres persanes” (Persian letters) (1721).

Napoleon

“I love power, but I love it only as an artist loves his art. I have only one passion and one mistress–France. I wake with her. I sleep with her. My only mistress is power, and I work too hard in winning her to allow myself easily to be robbed of her or even envied for possessing her. Ambition is so much a part of me and my temperament, of my constitution, that is has become the very blood of my veins and the air I breathe.”

Many described Napoleon as a madman for his dreams and ambitions, but he looked at them as goals within his reach that only required ambition and strength of character to achieve. Napoleon Bonaparte was an exceptional military and political leader who had a considerable impact on European history. He was a general during the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul of the French Republic and Emperor of the First French Empire. Napoleon’s rule was one of the most influential periods in all of history, moreover his code of laws became the basis for the French law.

Rene Descartes

"I think, therefore I am" (Cogito ergo sum)

Was a highly influential French philosopher mathematician, scientist, writer of the 17th century. Descartes is considered the "Father of Modern Philosophy" because he introduced the idea that all knowledge is the product of reasoning based on self-evident assumptions. As the inventor of the Cartesian coordinate system, Descartes is famous for having made an important connection between geometry and algebra, which allowed for the solving of geometrical problems by way of algebraic equations. However, he is most famous for having written a relatively short work, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (Meditations On First Philosophy), published in 1641, in which he provides a philosophical groundwork for the possibility of the sciences.

Roland Garros:

Born in Saint-Denis, Réunion, France in 1888, he was a French pioneer of the aviation who worked as a pilot during World War I. He became famous for being the first pilot to cross the Mediterranean Sea in non-stop flight of five hours and fifty three minutes on his Morane-Saulnier monoplane, and also for creating a system for forward-firing machine guns on combat aircrafts. His system was studied and improved by Anthony Fokker when, in 1915, Garros was taken prisoner by the Germans and failed to destroy his plane before it was in the hands of the enemy. In 1918, he managed to escape and went back to the French army, but a few months later, one month before the end of the war and one day before his 30th birthday, his plane was shot down near Vouziers, Ardennes, France and he died. The Paris tennis stadium “Stade de Roland Garros”, the French Open (one of tennis’ grand slam tournaments) “Roland Garros” and the international airport of La Réunion “Roland Garros Airport” are named after him.
Olivier Martinez:

Son of a Spanish father, this French actor was born in Paris in 1966 and started acting in 1990 in France, after which he rapidly gained international fame for his performance in different American films such as “Unfaithful” (2002), with Diane Lane and Richard Gere, and “S.W.A.T.” (2003), with Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez. In the year 1993, he won the Most Promising Actor Cesar Award for his performance in the film “Un, deux, trois, soleil”. He’s had two famous romantic relationships with the French actress Juliete Binoche and the Australian singer Kylie Minogue.

Victor Hugo:

“He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.”

Victor-Marie Hugo was born in Besançon, France, in 1802 and died in Paris in 1885. This French poet, writer, human rights activist, playwright, essayist, artist and statesman is considered by many as the greatest French poet and the most important author of the Romanticism in France. He was a very prolific writer. Some of his most famous works of poetry are “Les contemplations” (1856) and “La légende des siècles” (1859), and his best known novels (internationally) are “Les misérables” (1862) and “Notre-Dame de Paris” (1831).

Voltaire:

His real name was François Marie Arouet; he was born in Paris in 1694 and died in the same city in 1778. He was a controversial French philosopher, poet, essayist, writer and playwright, and one of the most important representatives of the French Enlightenment along with other authors such as John Locke, Montesquieu and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His works were influenced by important figures like Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton, and were marked by strong ideas of the defense of civil liberties, criticizing the institutions of the time and the Catholic Church. Also, his works had a great influence on different thinkers and authors of the French and American revolutions. He had constant disputes with the nobles for his revolutionary ideas and, therefore, he was imprisoned and exiled in several occasions. Voltaire became part of the French Academy in 1746. Some of his best known works are “Edipe” (1718), “Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais” (1733) and “Dictionnaire philosophique” (1764).

Yves Saint-Laurent:

Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent was born in Oran, French Algeria, in 1936, and died in Paris in 2008. He was a French fashion designer and entrepreneur, founder of the haute couture brand Yves Saint-Laurent, who’s been recognized as one of the most representative figures of French fashion in the 20th Century. In his first years working as a designer, he was part of the Christian Dior’s designing team. His funeral was attended by important figures such as the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his wife, Carla Bruni; Valentino; Jean Paul Gaultier; John Galliano; Claudia Schiffer; Catherine Deneuve; and Farah Diba. In 1985, Caroline Rennolds Milbank described Yves Saint-Laurent with these words: "the most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past twenty-five years, Yves Saint Laurent can be credited with both spurring the couture's rise from its sixties ashes and with finally rendering ready-to-wear reputable"

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