Over the centuries, France has produced numerous personalities that catapulted them to be the world’s most culturally rich people. Representing their country’s ethos and values, these people have defined and shaped what France is today. From art to architecture, literature to philosophy, these people have shown the world the best (and sometimes the worst) qualities of their country.
Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431)
Nicknamed “The Maid of Orléans,” Joan of Arc was a peasant girl who led the French army in defeating the British in a pivotal battle during the Hundred Years’ War. Burned at the stake at age 19, she is considered as a heroine of France.
Nostradamus (1503 – 1566)
Nostradamus was a physician that gained popularity up to this day because of the many astounding predictions he made about the future. His collection of prophesies entitled “Les Propheties,” were written very vaguely, but still widely credited for predicting major events all over the world throughout the centuries.
Louis Vuitton (1821 – 1892)
Louis Vuitton was a designer and businessman who founded the Vuitton company that is a brand of top of the line leather goods. Starting out as a luggage manufacturer, they now make first-class fashion items from expensive shoes to expensive handbags to expensive books.
Voltaire (1694 – 1778)
Writer, philosopher, essayist, Voltaire was a literary genius known for his satire, wit, and his advocacy in civil liberties. He has written thousands of books, letters, novels, essays, poetry, and plays. His life was riddled with intrigue and controversy, but today, he is still considered as one of history’s greatest writers and philosophers.
Brigitte Bardot (1934 – )
An actress, dancer, singer, model, and later on an animal rights activist, Brigitte Bardot has been a successful actress appearing in films such as “Viva Maria!” and “And God Created Woman.” Nowadays, she has fully devoted her life to advocating for animal rights.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821)
Napoleon Bonaparte was a military man who had a fundamental role in shaping the future of France. Coming out victorious on countless battles with enemies superior to him, Napoleon is considered one of the greatest war commanders and political leaders in history.
Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793)
Wife of Louis XVI, king of France, Marie Antoinette was widely believed to have incited the French Revolution by harboring sympathies for France’s enemies, her opulence and extravagance, and her total disregard for the common people’s welfare. In 1793, she went under the guillotine for treason months after the king himself was executed due to public outrage.
Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903)
Paul Gauguin was a painter, printmaker, and sculptor known for his post-Impressionist artworks that eventually led him to pioneer the Symbolism movement. Formerly a stockbroker, Gauguin was known for using bold and stark colors in his experimentations which brought forth the Synthetist style of modern art.
Alluring, fascinating, and sometimes controversial, these famous French people have undoubtedly become historical figures that are worth knowing. Some of their works and life stories are still treasured the world over. The main reason why France is considered the world hub of western cultural development.