The future of music

20 Most Famous French Singers (Best & Popular)

December 14, 2023
french singer

I’ve gathered a list of the most famous French singers, artists who have charmed the world with their distinct voices and unforgettable melodies.

This article is an ode to the richness of French music, showcasing the talents that have made a significant mark both in France and internationally.

Top famous French singers

  • Edith Piaf
  • Johnny Hallyday
  • Patricia Kaas
  • Georges Brassens
  • Charles Trenet
  • Serge Gainsbourg
  • Jacques Brel
  • Brigitte Bardot
  • Juliette Gréco
  • Léo Ferré

1. Edith Piaf

Surely, everybody deserves to listen to Edith Piaf’s songs at least once.

Edith Giovanna Gassion is one of the most known French singers, and for a good reason.

She is widely considered the voice of French music, having won multiple awards for her work and with hits such as “La Vie en rose” and “Non, je ne regrette rien.”

She was also the first French singer to be awarded a gold disc in 1956.

Her songs speak of love, sadness, life in Paris, and personal matters like death, religion, and war.

2. Johnny Hallyday

10-time winner of the Victoires de la Musique award, Johnny Hallyday was a true rock icon in France.

He was born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris in 1943 and released his debut single in 1960.

His inspiring career spanned five decades with hits such as “J’oublierai Ton Nom,” “Noël,” and “Requiem pour un fou.”

Johnny became one of the best-selling French artists in music history and was accorded a befitting send-off upon his passing in 2017 for all his achievements in the music scene.

3. Patricia Kaas

Patricia Kaas has sold over 17 million records worldwide since her debut album in 1988.

She became an international star after singing “Mon Mec A Moi” at the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest.

Kaas has received numerous awards, including an ECHO Award, World Music Award, and four Diamond Awards, for her contributions to the music industry.

Besides her musical career, Kaas is an accomplished actress, starring in films like And Now… Ladies and Gentlemen, Joyeuses Paques and Taxi 4.

4. Georges Brassens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faL2qm-F1jM

Georges Brassens was one of the most influential singer-songwriters in French music history before his untimely demise in 1981.

He wrote countless songs with diverse lyrics and was known for his sharp wit and clever use of language.

Brassens was famed for his irreverent, often risque lyrics and unique, somewhat nasal vocal style.

He released 17 studio albums throughout his career, and many notable singers, including Bob Dylan and Nina Simone, have covered his songs.

His most well-known hits include “Le Gorille” and “Les Copains D’abord.”

5. Charles Trenet

Charles Trenet is often called the “Romantic Troubadour” of France.

He wrote over 900 songs and was widely praised for his unique style and lyrical prowess.

Trenet’s most well-known songs include “La Mer” and “Boum,” and revered jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday have covered his music.

Trenet was also known for his wry sense of humor, which comes out in most of his tracks.

6. Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg was one of the most influential figures in 20th-century French music.

He released 16 studio albums, combining his poetic lyricism with a unique blend of musical styles such as jazz, funk, and reggae.

Gainsbourg is well-known for his controversial songs such as “Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus” and his classic ballad “La Javanaise.”

He was also famous for collaborating with legendary singers like Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin.

7. Jacques Brel

Jacques Brel was one of the most successful and beloved singers in France.

He released 16 studio albums throughout his career, many becoming classics by French standards.

His most popular songs include “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” “La Quête,” and “Amsterdam.”

Brel was renowned for his dramatic vocal performances, and his powerful voice often captivated audiences.

His unique style combined folk, blues, and chanson elements, creating a sound that resonated with different listeners.

8. Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot was a French actress and singer who became an international sensation in the 1950s.

She recorded several hit songs, such as “Harley Davidson,” and starred in iconic films, including And God Created Woman and Contempt.

Bardot was also a fashion icon, often wearing a bikini on the beach or a body-hugging dress in the city.

Her unique style and beauty have inspired generations, and she remains an icon of French culture.

9. Juliette Gréco

Juliette Gréco was a popular chanson singer in the 1950s and 60s.

Her career spanned more than four decades, and her repertoire included songs by legendary composers such as Maurice Chevalier and Charles Trenet.

She is also known for collaborating with influential musicians such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge Gainsbourg.

Gréco’s timeless style and enchanting voice endeared her to generations of fans, making her one of the most famous female French singers ever.

10. Léo Ferré

Léo Ferré was an avant-garde poet and composer whose work influenced French and international musicians.

A major figure in the history of French chanson, he wrote some 300 songs throughout his career, many of which remain classics to this day.

His best-known works include “Avec le Temps” and “C’est Extraordinaire,” as well as political compositions such as “Liberté” and “Tout est perdu.”

Though the mainstream did not always embrace him, Ferré’s uncompromising vision kept him at the forefront of the avant-garde until he died in 1993.

11. Yves Montand

Yves Montand rose to fame in post-war France, establishing himself as one of the country’s leading actors and singers.

He was known for his velvety baritone voice, as well as his charismatic stage presence and passionate love songs.

Montand was particularly fond of the chanson, having had mainstream success with songs like “Sous Le Ciel de Paris” and “Les Feuilles Mortes.”

He performed with Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, and Serge Gainsbourg and sang in numerous languages, making him an internationally acclaimed artist.

Montand performed in clubs, concert halls, and film festivals.

And his name still evokes the golden age of French music today.

12. Mireille Mathieu

Mireille Mathieu is a legendary French singer and performer who has sold over 100 million records since her debut in the 1960s.

She is best known for hits like “Mon credo” and “Une femme amoureuse.”

The singer has collaborated with several top stars, including Paul Anka and Julio Iglesias.

Mathieu has earned the admiration and respect of the French public for her incredible vocal range and timeless interpretations of classic chansons.

13. Claude Francois

Claude Francois was a prolific French singer and songwriter in the 1960s and 70s.

He wrote several classic songs such as “Comme d’habitude” and “Belles, Belles, Belles.”

His work is particularly noted for its upbeat and optimistic lyrics, as well as its catchy rhythms and melodies.

While his career was cut short by his untimely death in 1978, Francois’ music lives on in the hearts of his fans.

14. Clara Luciani

Clara Luciani is a critically acclaimed French singer and songwriter appearing in any list of the most famous French singers in 2020.

Luciani burst onto the French music scene in 2018 with her debut album, Sainte Victoire, which shot straight to the French charts.

With her raw, passionate vocals and dreamy soundscapes, Luciani’s music touches on themes of love, heartbreak, and loss.

She has released two EPs and two full-length albums since her debut.

Her magical voice and ability to create honest and meaningful tracks have cemented her place in the French music landscape.

15. Michel Delpech

Michel Delpech was a celebrated French singer and songwriter known for his heartfelt ballads and romantic songs.

He achieved stardom in the 1970s, with a career lasting almost 40 years.

His greatest hits, such as “Pour Un Flirt”, “Le Chasseur”, and “Quand j’étais chanteur,” still get French music lovers on their feet.

In later years, Delpech released folk-rock albums and collaborated with popular French artists.

In 2011, he was awarded the Légion d’honneur, the highest French order of merit.

Even after passing in 2016, his music still resonates with the new generation of listeners.

16. Goldman

Goldman is considered one of the greatest French singers of the modern era.

He’s inspired by the traditional French chanson and incorporates pop and rock influences into his music.

Goldman gained recognition in the early 1980s, becoming one of the most commercially successful French musicians in history.

With hit singles such as “Envole Moi” and “Je Te Donne,” Goldman reached the top of the charts in France and abroad.

He’s always celebrated for his technical prowess, memorable lyrics, and emotionally charged performances.

17. Aya Nakamura

Aya Nakamura is a rising star in the French music scene.

Her infectious blend of hip-hop, R&B, and Afropop made her stand out in the music industry.

Her single “Djadja” became an international sensation, topping the charts in many countries.

Following up with “Copines” and “Doudou,” Nakamura established herself as a powerful presence in the French music industry.

Through hard work and dedication, she became one of the most famous French singers in 2022.

18. Vianney

Vianney is a beloved French singer and songwriter who achieved mainstream success in the 2010s.

His biggest hits include “Je M’en Vais,” “Je Te Déteste,” and “Le Fil.”

Vianney has connected with millions of fans worldwide with his gentle vocals and introspective lyrics.

In addition to releasing several successful studio albums, the singer has ventured into acting, appearing in films such as Deux Moi and Marche Ou Creve.

19. Juliette Armanet

Juliette Armanet is a masterful French singer and songwriter.

Over the past few years, she has crafted a unique and captivating musical style, blending elements of indie-folk and classic French chanson.

Her ethereal and wistful music often focuses on romantic and existential themes.

She’s known for hit singles “L’amour En Solitaire” and “Petite Amie” and her standout live performances.

20. Lomepal

Lomepal is a rapper and singer-songwriter who is only gaining popularity.

His clever lyrics and smooth flow make him a revelation in the French music scene.

Lomepal’s singles “Mauvaise Foi” and “Jeannine” have become staples of French radio stations.

He has also collaborated with some of France’s biggest stars, including Orelsan and Maes.

With his laidback attitude and captivating music, Lomepal has quickly risen to the top of the French music charts.

Most Famous French Singers – Final Thoughts

Make no mistake.

French music is just as good as the alluring country.

And being the romantic spot, it’s hardly surprising most French singers stand out with their seductive lyrics that often leave a lasting impression.

French singers have been a revelation, from folk legends to pop icons and the typical masters of all genres.

The 20 most famous French singers on this list captivated their audiences, spoke directly to the listeners, and helped spread French culture.

That’s why their songs resonate with listeners of different backgrounds.

If you want a taste of sweet chansons, this is the perfect place to begin.  

Related Articles:

Most Famous French Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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