The Most Famous

SINGERS from France

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This page contains a list of the greatest French Singers. The pantheon dataset contains 4,381 Singers, 141 of which were born in France. This makes France the birth place of the 4th most number of Singers behind United Kingdom, and South Korea.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Singers of all time. This list of famous French Singers 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 Singers.

Photo of Édith Piaf

1. Édith Piaf (1915 - 1963)

With an HPI of 81.77, Édith Piaf is the most famous French Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 126 different languages on wikipedia.

Édith Piaf (born Édith Giovanna Gassion; 19 December 1915 – 10 October 1963) was a French singer best known for performing songs in the cabaret and modern chanson genres. She is widely regarded as France's greatest popular singer and one of the most celebrated performers of the 20th century.Piaf's music was often autobiographical, and she specialized in chanson réaliste and torch ballads about love, loss and sorrow. Her most widely known songs include "La Vie en rose" (1946), "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960), "Hymne à l'amour" (1949), "Milord" (1959), "La Foule" (1957), "L'Accordéoniste" (1940), and "Padam, padam..." (1951). Piaf began her career touring with her father at the age of fourteen. Her fame increased during the German occupation of France and in 1945, Piaf's signature song, "La Vie en rose" ('life in pink') was published. She became France's most popular entertainer in the late 1940s, also touring Europe, the United States, and South America. Her popularity in the United States led her to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show eight times. She continued to perform, including several series of concerts at the Paris Olympia music hall, until a few months before her death in 1963 at age 47. Her last song, "L'Homme de Berlin", was recorded with her husband in April 1963. Since her death, several documentaries and films have been produced about Piaf's life, and her music is a touchstone of French culture.

Photo of Charles Aznavour

2. Charles Aznavour (1924 - 2018)

With an HPI of 76.56, Charles Aznavour is the 2nd most famous French Singer.  His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.

Charles Aznavour ( AZ-nə-VOOR, French: [ʃaʁl aznavuʁ]; born Charles Aznavourian, 22 May 1924 – 1 October 2018) was a French singer of Armenian ancestry, as well as a lyricist, actor and diplomat. Aznavour was known for his distinctive vibrato tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. In a career as a composer, singer and songwriter, spanning over 70 years, he recorded more than 1,200 songs interpreted in 9 languages. Moreover, he wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs for himself and others. Aznavour is regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time and an icon of 20th-century pop culture.One of France's most popular and enduring singers, he was dubbed France's Frank Sinatra, while music critic Stephen Holden described Aznavour as a "French pop deity". Several media outlets described him as the most famous Armenian of all time. Jean Cocteau once said: "Before Aznavour despair was unpopular".Aznavour sang for presidents, popes and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events. In response to the 1988 Armenian earthquake, he founded the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his long-time friend impresario Lévon Sayan. In 2008, he was granted Armenian citizenship and was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland the following year, as well as Armenia's permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva.He started his last world tour in 2014. In 2017, Aznavour was awarded the 2,618th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Later that year, he and his sister, Aida Aznavourian, were awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Award for sheltering Jews during World War II. His concert at the NHK Hall in Osaka, in September 2018, would be his final performance. Between 1974 and 2016, Aznavour received around sixty gold and platinum records around the world. According to his record company, the total sales of Aznavour's recordings were over 180 million units.

Photo of Serge Gainsbourg

3. Serge Gainsbourg (1928 - 1991)

With an HPI of 72.48, Serge Gainsbourg is the 3rd most famous French Singer.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.

Serge Gainsbourg (French: [sɛʁʒ ɡɛ̃zbuʁ] ; born Lucien Ginsburg; 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991) was a French singer-songwriter, actor, composer, and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French pop, he was renowned for often provocative releases which caused uproar in France, dividing public opinion. His artistic output ranged from his early work in jazz, chanson, and yé-yé to later efforts in rock, zouk, funk, reggae, and electronica. Gainsbourg's varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorise, although his legacy has been firmly established and he is often regarded as one of the world's most influential popular musicians. His lyrical works incorporated wordplay, with humorous, bizarre, provocative, sexual, satirical or subversive overtones. Gainsbourg wrote over 550 songs, which have been covered more than 1,000 times by diverse artists. Since his death from a second heart attack in 1991, Gainsbourg's music has reached legendary stature in France. While controversial in his lifetime, he has become one of France's best-loved public figures. He has also gained a cult following all over the world with chart success in the United Kingdom and Belgium with "Je t'aime... moi non plus" and "Bonnie and Clyde", respectively.

Photo of Mireille Mathieu

4. Mireille Mathieu (b. 1946)

With an HPI of 71.57, Mireille Mathieu is the 4th most famous French Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 60 different languages.

Mireille Mathieu (French pronunciation: [miʁɛj matjø] ; born 22 July 1946) is a French singer. She has recorded over 1,200 songs in eleven languages, with more than 122 million records sold worldwide.

Photo of Carlos Gardel

5. Carlos Gardel (1890 - 1935)

With an HPI of 67.97, Carlos Gardel is the 5th most famous French Singer.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Carlos Gardel (born Charles Romuald Gardès; 11 December 1890 – 24 June 1935) was a French-born Argentine singer, songwriter, composer and actor, and the most prominent figure in the history of tango. He was one of the most influential interpreters of world popular music in the first half of the 20th century. Gardel is the most famous popular tango singer of all time and is recognized throughout the world. Described variously as a baritone or tenor because of his wide vocal range, he was known for his rich voice and dramatic phrasing. Together with lyricist and long-time collaborator Alfredo Le Pera, Gardel wrote several classic tangos. Gardel died in an airplane crash at the height of his career, becoming an archetypal tragic hero mourned throughout Latin America. For many, Gardel embodies the soul of the tango style. He is commonly referred to as "Carlitos", "El Zorzal" ("The Song thrush"), "The King of Tango", "El Mago" (The Wizard), "El Morocho del Abasto" (The Brunette boy from Abasto), and ironically "El Mudo" (The Mute). In 1967, a controversial theory was published by Uruguayan writer Erasmo Silva Cabrera, asserting that Gardel was born in Tacuarembó, Uruguay. Other authors expanded upon this theory, and a museum to Gardel was established in Tacuarembó. But Gardel's friends and family all knew him as a French immigrant from Toulouse. Scholarly researchers analyzed the contradictory evidence, especially French birth and baptismal records, and confirmed his birthplace as Toulouse.

Photo of France Gall

6. France Gall (1947 - 2018)

With an HPI of 67.37, France Gall is the 6th most famous French Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 62 different languages.

Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall (9 October 1947 – 7 January 2018), known professionally as France Gall, was a French yé-yé singer. In 1965, at the age of 17, she won the tenth edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Poupée de cire, poupée de son", representing Luxembourg. Later in her career, she became known for her work with singer-songwriter Michel Berger, whom she married in 1976. Her most successful singles include "Résiste", "Ella, elle l'a" and "Évidemment".

Photo of Johnny Hallyday

7. Johnny Hallyday (1943 - 2017)

With an HPI of 67.05, Johnny Hallyday is the 7th most famous French Singer.  His biography has been translated into 68 different languages.

Jean-Philippe Léo Smet (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ filip leo smɛt]; 15 June 1943 – 5 December 2017), better known by his stage name Johnny Hallyday, was a French rock and roll and pop singer and actor, credited with having brought rock and roll to France.During a career spanning 57 years, he released 79 albums and sold more than 110 million records worldwide, mainly in the French-speaking world, making him one of the best-selling artists in the world. He had five diamond albums, 40 gold albums, 22 platinum albums and earned ten Victoires de la Musique. He sang an estimated 1,154 songs and performed 540 duets with 187 artists. Credited for his strong voice and his spectacular shows, he sometimes arrived by entering a stadium through the crowd and once by jumping from a helicopter above the Stade de France, where he performed 9 times. Among his 3,257 shows completed in 187 tours, the most memorable were at Parc des Princes in 1993, at the Stade de France in 1998, just after France's win in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, as well as at the Eiffel Tower in 2000, which had record-breaking ticket sales for a French artist. A million spectators gathered to see his performance at the Eiffel Tower, with some 10 million watching on television. Usually working with the best French artists and musicians of his time, he collaborated with Charles Aznavour, Michel Berger and Jean-Jacques Goldman. Hugely popular in France, he was referred to as simply "Johnny" and seen as a "national monument" and a part of the French cultural legacy. He was a symbol of the Trente Glorieuses when he emerged in 1960 and a familiar figure to four generations. More than 2,500 magazine covers and 190 books were dedicated to him during his lifetime, making him one of the people most widely covered by the media in France. His death from cancer in 2017 was followed by a "popular tribute" during which a million people attended the procession and 15 million others watched the ceremony on TV. He remained relatively unknown in the English-speaking world, where he was dubbed "the biggest rock star you've never heard of" and introduced as the French version of Elvis Presley.

Photo of Françoise Hardy

8. Françoise Hardy (b. 1944)

With an HPI of 66.75, Françoise Hardy is the 8th most famous French Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 40 different languages.

Françoise Madeleine Hardy (French: [fʁɑ̃swaz madlɛn aʁdi]; born 17 January 1944) is a retired French singer-songwriter and actress. Mainly known for singing melancholic sentimental ballads, Hardy rose to prominence in the early 1960s as a leading figure of the yé-yé wave. In addition to her native French, she also sang in English, Italian and German. Her career spanned more than fifty years with over thirty studio albums released. Born and raised in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, Hardy made her musical debut in 1962 on French label Disques Vogue and found immediate success through the song "Tous les garçons et les filles". Drifting away from her early rock and roll influences, she began to record in London in 1964, which allowed her to broaden her sound with albums such as Mon amie la rose, L'amitié, La maison où j'ai grandi and Ma jeunesse fout le camp.... In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she released Comment te dire adieu, La question and Message personnel, to further establish her artistry. In this period, she worked with songwriters such as Serge Gainsbourg, Patrick Modiano, Michel Berger and Catherine Lara. Between 1977 and 1988, she worked with producer Gabriel Yared with the albums Star, Musique saoûle, Gin Tonic and À suivre. Her 1988 record Décalages was widely publicized as Hardy's final album, although she returned eight years later with Le danger, which completely reinvented her sound to a harsher alternative rock. Her following albums of the 2000s—Clair-obscur, Tant de belles choses and (Parenthèses...)—saw a return to her mellow style. In the 2010s, Hardy released her last three albums: La pluie sans parapluie, L'amour fou, and Personne d'autre. In addition to music, Hardy landed roles as a supporting actress in the films Château en Suède, Une balle au cœur and the American production Grand Prix. She became a muse for fashion designers such as André Courrèges, Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne, and has collaborated with photographer Jean-Marie Périer. Hardy has also developed a career as an astrologer, having written extensively on the subject since the 1970s. In addition, she worked as a writer of both fiction and non-fiction books since the 2000s. Her autobiography Le désespoir des singes... et autres bagatelles was a best-seller in France. As a public figure, Hardy is known for her shyness, disenchantment with celebrity life and self-deprecatory attitude, attributed to her lifelong struggles with anxiety and insecurity. She has been married to fellow French singer-songwriter Jacques Dutronc since 1981 and their only son, Thomas, is also a musician. In 2021, Hardy announced that her health had worsened and that she would not be able to sing again owing to the effects of cancer therapy. Hardy remains one of the best-selling singers in French history, and continues to be regarded as an iconic and influential figure in both French pop and fashion. In 2006, she was awarded the Grande médaille de la chanson française honorary award given by the Académie française, in recognition of her career in music. Her work has appeared on several critics' lists.

Photo of Gilbert Bécaud

9. Gilbert Bécaud (1927 - 2001)

With an HPI of 65.41, Gilbert Bécaud is the 9th most famous French Singer.  His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.

Gilbert Bécaud (French pronunciation: [ʒil.bɛːʁ be.ko], 24 October 1927 – 18 December 2001) was a French singer, composer, pianist and actor, known as "Monsieur 100,000 Volts" for his energetic performances. His best-known hits are "Nathalie" and "Et maintenant", a 1961 release that became an English language hit as "What Now My Love". He remained a popular artist for nearly fifty years, identifiable in his dark blue suits, with a white shirt and "lucky tie"; blue with white polka dots. When asked to explain his gift he said, "A flower doesn't understand botany." His favourite venue was the Paris Olympia under the management of Bruno Coquatrix. He debuted there in 1954 and headlined in 1955, attracting 6,000 on his first night, three times the capacity. On 13 November 1997, Bécaud was present for the re-opening of the venue after its reconstruction.

Photo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo

10. Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (b. 1974)

With an HPI of 64.04, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo is the 10th most famous French Singer.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Guillaume Emmanuel "Guy-Manuel" de Homem-Christo (French pronunciation: [ɡi(jom e)manɥɛl də ɔmɛm kʁisto]; born 8 February 1974) is a French musician, record producer, singer, songwriter, DJ and composer. He is known as one half of the former French house music duo Daft Punk, along with Thomas Bangalter. He has produced several works from his now defunct record label Crydamoure with label co-owner Éric Chedeville.

People

Pantheon has 154 people classified as French singers born between 1155 and 2009. Of these 154, 99 (64.29%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living French singers include Mireille Mathieu, Françoise Hardy, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. The most famous deceased French singers include Édith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, and Serge Gainsbourg. As of April 2024, 13 new French singers have been added to Pantheon including François Delsarte, Julien Clerc, and Hortense Schneider.

Living French Singers

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Deceased French Singers

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Newly Added French Singers (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Singers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Singers since 1700.