We asked our fabulous writers at The Good Life France about their favourite famous French people – real or fictional, dead or alive – who is the most fascinating, interesting, alluring French man or woman? We got a random set of answers – some expected, some quite surprising… is your favourite here?!
Kirsten McKintosh: I admire Coco Chanel for her ‘I couldn’t give two hoots’ attitude and her subversive sense of style.
Donna Kerridge: Marcel Pagnol for La Gloire de mon père and Le Château de ma mère and Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources.
Evelyn Jackson: Has to be Eleanor of Aquitaine. What a woman and what influence she had on my part of France!
Lucy Pitts: Victor Hugo because he was massively talented.
Susana Iwase Hanson: The actor Franck Dubosc, because he is super good-looking AND does not take himself or his life too seriously (like so many other actors) but instead makes everyone laugh and simply have a good time.
Bob Lyons: Serge Gainsbourg, for the way he embraced the free French culture and did what he wanted.
Sue Aitken: Edith Piaf – she encapsulates the French spirit – anarchic, whimsical, independent
Roger St Pierre: Louison Bobet – first man to in the Tour de France three times in a row. Because he inspired my passion for bicycle racing. (Read Roger’s inspirational story about the Tour de France)
Susie Woodhams: Gerard Depardieu. Even though he’s “left” France, he’s played so many great French roles over his lifetime with such gusto and verve that will forever be part of the country’s culture.
Margo Leszt: My favourite character would be Amélie Poulain, portrayed by Audrey Tautou in the film, Amélie (Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain in French). I love her curiosity and imagination. She has the ability to turn an ordinary event into a grand adventure.
Heather Tyler: Madeleine: The little French girl student in American author Ludwig Bemelmanns’ series of books set in late 1940s France. They were my favourite early childhood books and I loved her curiosity and quirky sense of adventure, which rubbed off on me!
Susan Keefe: Our old neighbour whose wife was born in our house. He watches everything we do from the road as he drives past on his moped – it’s lucky the roads are very quiet and he’s lived here all his life otherwise he’d have an accident – he’s never looking where he’s going…
Alecia Caine: I admire French actresses like Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche for their understated style, sophistication and beauty. They possess that alluring je ne sais quoi that I would love to achieve.
Marilyn Cathchpole-Dossat: I Recently read in English – ‘Les Mystères de Paris’ by French writer Eugène Sue. I loved all the characters in his stories and couldn’t put my kindle down until I’d finished all six volumes and then I read all of his Seven Deadly Sins…
Donna Faulkner: Asterix, not very cultured I know, but reminds me of many a childhood day with my nose in a book or comic.
Amanda J Fisher: Monsieur Hulot equally with all the characters from the Asterix books (because they all still make me hoot out loud with laughter after a lifetime’s joyous friendship).
Jill Barth: Framboise Simon, the lead character in Joanne Harris‘s Five Quarters of the Orange, gets my nod for incredible French character. Framboise experiences and shares family life through food and memory. She unstitches her family’s past, which is darkened by war, occupation and secrets to find threads of love and timeless energy. Her personal story is grafted to the pain felt by all of France during WWII but it’s peppered with what’s most meaningful: nourishment, tradition, love and open-hearted acceptance for family and community.
Paola Westbeek: Mmmm… difficult question. I love French music so I would probably have to say Charles Aznavour. Listen to some of his music, his swooning voice and sentimental lyrics – and you’ll understand why! I can’t help but get choked up when I hear ‘A ma fille’. Makes me think of my own little girl. And what woman won’t melt when she hears the song ‘She’?
Janine Marsh: Napoleon – he was such a dynamic and charismatic character but very complicated. He hated to lose – at anything, he was even known to cheat at cards and chess! His teachers said he was “moody, overbearing and egotistical” but he was also passionate, determined and infinitely interesting…