The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest French Celebrities. The pantheon dataset contains 265 Celebrities, 11 of which were born in France. This makes France the birth place of the 2nd most number of Celebrities.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Celebrities of all time. This list of famous French Celebrities is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of French Celebrities.

Photo of Jeanne Calment

1. Jeanne Calment (1875 - 1997)

With an HPI of 72.83, Jeanne Calment is the most famous French Celebrity.  Her biography has been translated into 60 different languages on wikipedia.

Jeanne Louise Calment (French: [ʒan lwiz kalmɑ̃] ; 21 February 1875 – 4 August 1997) was a French supercentenarian and, with a documented lifespan of 122 years and 164 days, is the world's oldest verified person. Her longevity attracted media attention and medical studies of her health and lifestyle. She is the only person verified to have reached the age of 120. According to census records, Calment outlived both her daughter and grandson. In January 1988, she was widely reported to be the oldest living person, and in 1995, at age 120, was declared the oldest person to have ever lived.

Photo of Marie Duplessis

2. Marie Duplessis (1824 - 1847)

With an HPI of 62.37, Marie Duplessis is the 2nd most famous French Celebrity.  Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Marie Duplessis (born Alphonsine Rose Plessis; 15 January 1824 – 3 February 1847) was a French courtesan and mistress to a number of prominent and wealthy men. She was the inspiration for Marguerite Gautier, the main character of the 1848 novel La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas the younger, one of Duplessis' lovers. Much of what is known about her has been derived from the literary persona and contemporary legends.

Photo of Blanche Monnier

3. Blanche Monnier (1849 - 1913)

With an HPI of 61.18, Blanche Monnier is the 3rd most famous French Celebrity.  Her biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Blanche Monnier (French pronunciation: [blɑ̃ʃ mɔnje]; 1 March 1849 – 13 October 1913), often known in France as la Séquestrée de Poitiers (roughly, "The Confined Woman of Poitiers"), was a woman from Poitiers, France, who was secretly kept locked in a small room by her aristocratic mother and brother for 25 years. She was eventually found by police, then middle-aged and in an emaciated and filthy condition; according to officials, Monnier had not seen any sunlight for her entire captivity.

Photo of Philippe Petit

4. Philippe Petit (b. 1949)

With an HPI of 60.96, Philippe Petit is the 4th most famous French Celebrity.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Philippe Petit (French pronunciation: [filip pəti]; born 13 August 1949) is a French highwire artist who gained fame for his unauthorized highwire walks between the towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1971 and of Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1973, as well as between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on the morning of 7 August 1974. For his unauthorized feat 400 metres (1,312 feet) above the ground – which he referred to as "le coup" – Petit had gathered together a team consisting of two of his closest, childhood friends from France (Jean-Louis Blondeau, and Jean Francois Heckel) joined by four recruited Americans (Alan Welner, David Forman, Barry Greenhouse, and Jim Moore) plus a seventh comrade of Petit's (Mark Lewis, hailing from Australia, had previously been instrumental in aiding Petit wire-walk across Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1973). The group spent many months collaborating in detailed preparation, travelling to the World Trade Center multiple times, building an "outdoor" scale model of the roofs of both buildings, brainstorming and theorizing ways to bypass security, how to transport the hundreds of pounds of necessary materials from the street level up 104 stairs, and subsequently rigging the wire Petit would ultimately need for his walk. In spite of multiple obstacles, and a re-scheduling from an earlier date in May of that same year, Petit and his team successfully secured the placement of his rigging; a 200-kilogram (440-pound) custom-made "walking wire", two "cavaletti" guide wires, plus a 8-metre (30-foot) long, 25-kilogram (55-pound) balancing pole. Despite NYPD intervening, Petit performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire. The act was considered to be not only an incredible performance of acrobatic skill and artistry, but perhaps even moreso, an ingenious feat of modern day engineering. Upon completing his 45 minute, eight pass walk, Petit and Heckel were both arrested, charged with the crimes of Trespassing and Disorderly Persons, and forced to submit to psychiatric evaluations before being released. Petit's charges were ultimately dismissed after he agreed to perform on camera before a small group of children. Heckel was subsequently expelled from the United States. Petit would later be issued a "Lifetime Pass" granting him free admission to the WTC Observation Deck. Petit's wire-walk earned him a Guinness Book of Records for the highest wire-crossing without the use of a net or other type of safety tether, 1350' above ground (411 meters). (Petit's record would remain unbroken until 2015, when 50 year old stuntman Freddy Nock, of Switzerland, completed a 39 minute wire-walk, high above two towering peaks in the Swiss mountains). Since then, Petit has lived in New York, where he has been artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, also a location of other aerial performances. He has done wire walking as part of official celebrations in New York, across the United States, and in France and other countries, as well as teaching workshops on the art. In 2008, Man on Wire, a documentary directed by James Marsh about Petit's walk between the towers, won numerous awards including the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. He was also the subject of a children's book and an animated adaptation of it, released in 2005. The Walk, a film based on Petit's walk, was released in September 2015, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit and directed by Robert Zemeckis. He also became adept at equestrianism, juggling, fencing, carpentry, rock-climbing, and bullfighting. Spurning circuses and their formulaic performances, he created his street persona on the sidewalks of Paris. In the early 1970s, he visited New York City, where he frequently juggled and worked on a slackline in Washington Square Park.

Photo of Joseph Meister

5. Joseph Meister (1876 - 1940)

With an HPI of 57.59, Joseph Meister is the 5th most famous French Celebrity.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Joseph Meister (21 February 1876 – 24 June 1940) was the first person to be inoculated against rabies by Louis Pasteur, and likely the first person to be successfully treated for the infection, which has a >99% fatality rate once symptoms set in.

Photo of Jean-Marie Loret

6. Jean-Marie Loret (1918 - 1985)

With an HPI of 57.14, Jean-Marie Loret is the 6th most famous French Celebrity.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Jean-Marie Loret (18 March 1918 – 14 February 1985) was a French railway worker and allegedly Adolf Hitler's illegitimate son. According to Loret, his mother revealed to him shortly before her death in 1948 that the "unknown German soldier" with whom she had an affair during World War I was German leader Adolf Hitler. Heinz Linge, who served as valet for Hitler, claimed in his memoirs With Hitler to the End that on 24 June 1940 Hitler secretly tasked Heinrich Himmler with finding Loret and his mother. Loret's claim was backed by German historian Werner Maser, who first brought the claim to public attention in 1977 following an article in Zeitgeschichte magazine. Loret published his own autobiography, Ton père s'appelait Hitler [Your father was called Hitler] in 1981. However, the dominant view represented by historians such as Anton Joachimsthaler, Timothy Ryback, Ian Kershaw, and Belgian journalist Jean-Paul Mulders, is that Hitler's paternity of Loret is unlikely or impossible to prove.

Photo of Nicolas Chopin

7. Nicolas Chopin (1771 - 1844)

With an HPI of 55.84, Nicolas Chopin is the 7th most famous French Celebrity.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Nicolas Chopin (in Polish: Mikołaj Chopin; 15 April 1771 – 3 May 1844) was a teacher of the French language in Partitioned Poland, and father of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin.

Photo of Denise Perrier

8. Denise Perrier (b. 1935)

With an HPI of 53.85, Denise Perrier is the 8th most famous French Celebrity.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Denise Perrier (born February 13, 1935) is a French actress, former model and beauty queen who won Miss World 1953. She now goes by "Denise Perrier Lanfranchi." She is still the only French woman to have won the Miss World title.

Photo of Michel Lotito

9. Michel Lotito (1950 - 2007)

With an HPI of 52.21, Michel Lotito is the 9th most famous French Celebrity.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Michel Lotito (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl lɔtito]; 15 June 1950 – 25 June 2007) was a French entertainer, born in Grenoble, famous for deliberate consumption of indigestible objects. He came to be known as Monsieur "Mouth" Mangetout ("Mr. Eat-All"). He started eating this unusual diet at age 9.

Photo of Apollonie Sabatier

10. Apollonie Sabatier (1822 - 1890)

With an HPI of 51.23, Apollonie Sabatier is the 10th most famous French Celebrity.  Her biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Apollonie Sabatier (born Aglaé Joséphine Savatier; 8 April 1822 – 3 January 1890) was a French entertainer, artist's model and courtesan, who became a salon hostess and bohemian muse to many of the French artists of 1850s Paris.


Pantheon has 13 people classified as French celebrities born between 1771 and 1993. Of these 13, 5 (38.46%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living French celebrities include Philippe Petit, Denise Perrier, and Sébastien Foucan. The most famous deceased French celebrities include Jeanne Calment, Marie Duplessis, and Blanche Monnier. As of April 2024, 2 new French celebrities have been added to Pantheon including Nicolas Chopin, and Apollonie Sabatier.

Living French Celebrities

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Deceased French Celebrities

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Newly Added French Celebrities (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Celebrities were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 8 most globally memorable Celebrities since 1700.