Think that you know a lot of famous French people? Perhaps you've heard of Vanessa Paradis or MC Solaar, just two of the many famous French musicians, but there have been many, many famous French people who have contributed to society, the arts and letters, and to many other aspects of life as well.
Famous French People
If you are a student of French, studying famous people from France is one way to get yourself familiar with the culture. It may surprise you to know how many famous people you've already heard of who were French.
There is very little that Beaumarchais didn't do. He was a spy, watchmaker, poet, revolutionary, musician, diplomat, and much more. However, he is best known for his three Figaro plays, Le Barbier de Seville, Le Mariage de Figaro, and La Mère coupable. They were banned for a period of time in France because of their harsh criticism of the aristocracy; however, they eventually went on to find great success. Of course The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro came to be popular operas in their own right. The operas of course are based on the plays.
Dumas was the author of many popular titles including:
- The Man in the Iron Mask
- The Three Musketeers
- The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was of course later adapted into Tchaikovsky's ballet.
- The Count of Monte Cristo
- Robin Hood
Les Frères Robert
The Robert brothers were the first engineers to design a hydrogen balloon and fly it 100 kilometers. They included a barometer and thermometer, making it the first vehicle able to measure the atmosphere. Although their design included controlling flight via oars and umbrellas, their advancements were significant towards the first steps in manned flight.
Saint-Exupéry was both an accomplished author and aviator. He is best known as the author of The Little Prince, but also fought in World War II. After the war was over he joined the Free French Forces. Adding to the mystery of his persona, he disappeared on a reconnaissance mission in 1944.
Bizet is the composer of the opera Carmen. While he composed many other works during his short lifetime, he was never as recognized for any of them as much as he was recognized for "Carmen".
Debussy has recently gained notable popularity amongst tweens since he is mentioned in the popular Twilight Saga books. In the musical world, Debussy has always been considered one of the most notable and influential composers of the 19th century.
Of course France is no stranger to fashion. Paris, being one of the fashion capitals of the world alongside Tokyo and New York City, is home and birthplace to several famous designers:
- Louis Vuitton
- Coco Chanel
- Christian Dior
- Hubert de Givenchy
- Jean-Paul Gaultier
- Pierre Cardin
- Yves Saint-Laurent
French Contributions to Society
There is no doubt that France thrives in a variety of areas. The French dedication towards promoting locally in the arts ensures that there are ample artists, novelists, and musicians in contemporary France. From French minds came The Declaration of the Rights of Man, and of course the thoughts of French philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau influenced American thinking during that time period. In the sciences, France is also at the forefront boasting numerous nobel laureates. If you are a French student, learning some more about famous French citizens who have contributed to our society can greatly enhance your studies of the language and culture of France.