10 Famous French People

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10 Fabulously Famous French Faces

There have been a lot of French famous people to emerge over the centuries, so we've put together a quick and dirty list of those you absolutely HAVE to know when you travel to France on your gap year, or the locals will put you in the stocks.

1. Joan of Arc (1412 - 1431)

A French heroine and a Roman Catholic saint, Joan claimed to receive heavenly visions that told her to reclaim France from English control during the Hundred Years' War. She played a key role in bringing Charles VII to the throne, but was captured by the English and burned at the stake. She was 19 years old.

2. Nostradamus (1503 - 1566)

You can't be right all the time. Nostradamus is well known for making dire predictions about the future, usually in such a vague way that a lot of people still think he was right. He was also an accomplished apothecary and helped to treat victims of the plague.

3. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)

It's impossible to sum up Napoleon in a couple of lines. He was a military and political leader who is widely considered one of the greatest commanders in history - he won so many battles that at one time he controlled most of continental Europe. Basically, don't mess with Napoleon. Unless you're the Duke of Wellington. Are you the Duke of Wellington?

4. Louis Vitton (1821 - 1892)

If you wear Louis Vitton you're probably doing quite well for yourself. He founded the fashion house in 1854 by designing a stackable travel trunk, and today it sells everything from expensive shoes to  expensive handbags to expensive books. That might not be great for your backpacking budget. The company is worth over $28 billion. 

5. Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971)

Another French fashion powerhouse who became famous for her iconic suits, perfumes, and little black dresses. She taught herself to sew after she was orphaned, and turned that skill into a formidable fashion empire. Chanel No. 5, her signature scent, is a bestselling perfume the world over.

6. Brigitte Bardot (1934 - )

A ludicrously popular model thanks to her voluptuous figure, Brigitte Bardot went on to have a successful acting career, appearing in films like Viva Maria! and And God Created Woman. After she retired from film she became a prominent animal rights campaigner. 

7. Andre the Giant (1946 - 1993)

Never has a name been more fitting. Andre the Giant was a pro wrestler who stood at a towering 7'5" tall and weighed a whopping 525lbs. He was hugely successful in the WWF (he's in the Hall of Fame), and also had a popular turn in The Princess Bride.

8. Zinedine Zidane (1972 - )

Arguably the greatest footballer of all time, he won the World Cup with France, as well as trophies in Italy and Spain. Popular myth says that he was never once caught offside in his career, something which football fans like to endlessly, pointlessly debate.

9. Marion Cotillard (1975 - )

Although she's mainly known for her acting career, Marion Cotillard is also a singer and songwriter. She's an Oscar winner for her role in La Vie en Rose, and has also appeared in blockbusters like Inception and Contagion. In 2014 she was named The Most Bankable French Actress of the 21st Century. 

10. Pepe Le Pew

This adorable skunk from the Looney Tunes cartoons was pretty much every French stereotype rolled into one, which maybe explains why he became such a popular character in the USA.