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21 Best French Singers You Need to Listen Now

French singers have captivated audiences worldwide for decades with their unique charm and style; it’s no secret that France is famous for its rich culture – and music is no exception.

Lucky for us, many French singers have made beautiful melodies that people of all ages and backgrounds love.

The music industry has undoubtedly benefited from incredible French talent, from the legendary Edith Piaf to the modern Vanessa Paradis and to many more famous singers of France.

The unique style of French singers reflects the country’s cultural diversity and rich history; amidst this, they have so much to offer. 

This article provides a closer look at some of the most famous French singers, their stories, and their contributions.

Zaz, a famous French singer
Zaz, one of the most famous French singer – Melanie Lemahieu / Shutterstock

21 Best French Singers You Need to Listen Now

Here are some big names in the French music scene.

1. Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf, the “Little Sparrow,” soared to fame as one of the most celebrated French singers of the 20th century. 

Despite a tumultuous upbringing in a Parisian brothel and a challenging start on the streets, Edith’s extraordinary voice captured the hearts of fans worldwide.

This French woman‘s music, characterized by the French chanson genre, tells stories of love, loss, and sorrow, resonating with audiences of all ages. 

Iconic French songs like “La Vie en rose,” “Non, je ne regrette rien,” and “Hymne à l’amour” continue to captivate listeners to this day. Beyond her music, Edith also graced the silver screen and mentored other beloved singers such as Yves Montand.

However, Edith’s life was not without hardship. Her passionate but tragic love affair with boxer Marcel Cerdan ended in heartbreak with his untimely death in a plane crash. 

She also struggled with health problems and drug addiction throughout her career, ultimately passing away at only 47 years old.

Despite her struggles, Edith Piaf is one of the most famous French people, and her legacy endures as one of the greatest French cultural icons of all time. 

She even won awards in A Star Is Born with her song “La Vie en rose” in 2018 – her music is a timeless treasure for all who appreciate the power of song.

2. Johnny Hallyday

Jean-Philippe Smet, born in Paris in 1943, was the iconic French singer and actor Johnny Hallyday. Hallyday was also another legendary French music artist and actor who brought rock and roll to France.

His passion for music began with guitar lessons from his American cousin, Lee Halliday. Soon after, he adopted Lee’s last name for his stage persona and embraced rock and roll, inspired by the likes of Elvis Presley.

He quickly became a sensation among young fans in the late 1950s with energetic performances and hits’ like “Laisse les Filles” and “Souvenirs, Souvenirs.” 

Throughout his six-decade career, Johnny recorded over 1,000 songs and sold over 110 million records worldwide.

He collaborated with famous singers such as Charles Aznavour, Eddy Mitchell, and Sylvie Vartan, his first wife, and performed at iconic venues such as L’Olympia, Parc des Princes, and Stade de France. 

He obtained many awards in his career, including the Prix Jean Gabin, was made a Chevalier, and received a star on the Mascow Walk of Fame.

His last concert was in July 2017 as part of his “Rocker Tour.” He passed away in December 2017 at 74 after battling lung cancer, and hundreds of thousands attended his funeral. 

Johnny remains widely regarded as the French Elvis Presley and a symbol of French culture.

3. Charles Aznavour

Charles Aznavour was a French music legend who captivated audiences with his pop and chanson music. 

Born in Paris in 1924 to Armenian parents who had escaped the genocide, Charles began his career as a child actor and singer, but his talent as a songwriter made him a global icon.

From love to death, war to homosexuality, Aznavour’s music touched on various themes – with over 1,200 compositions. Some of his most famous French hits include “La Bohème,” “She,” “Yesterday When I Was Young,” and “What Makes a Man.”

But Aznavour was more than just a musician; among many things, he was a humanitarian activist and a diplomat for Armenia. 

He founded a charity organization to support earthquake relief efforts in Armenia in 1988 and later became Armenia’s ambassador to Switzerland and its permanent delegate to the United Nations.

Passing away at 94 in 2018, he had amassed numerous awards, including the Legion of Honour, the Raoul Wallenberg Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Aznavour’s music and compassion touched millions worldwide, cementing his legacy among the most outstanding French music artists recorded.

4. Françoise Hardy

If you love French pop music, you probably know Françoise Hardy, one of the genre’s most iconic and influential French singers. 

Born in Paris in 1944, she taught herself guitar as a teenager and quickly rose to fame with her hit single “Tous les garçons et les filles” in 1962.

Her success led her to become a prominent figure in the yé-yé movement, recording songs in several languages, including English, German, and Italian – gaining international fame.

But Hardy was more than a pretty face and a talented singer; she was also a gifted songwriter who explored themes such as love, loneliness, and death with a poetic touch

Collaborating with some of the best composers and producers of her time, she left her mark on the music industry and inspired fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne with her distinctive style.

Though she faced health problems that forced her to retire from singing in 2018, Hardy’s legacy lived on with over thirty studio albums, several films, and books on astrology and music memoirs, and she married a fellow singer and French actor Jacques Dutronc. 

Her contributions to French culture and music are timeless, making her a beloved figure across generations. 

5. Lomepal

Meet Lomepal, the French artist who can do it all! From skating to singing, poetry to storytelling, Lomepal is a true creative force. 

Born Antoine Valentinelli in Paris in 1991, he discovered his love for words and music through his passion for skateboarding. At the young age of 20, he started rapping, and the rest is history!

Lomepal’s music quickly became a staple on the French music charts, with his first album, Flip, achieving double platinum status in 2017. 

He continued to captivate audiences with his second album, Jeannine, released in 2018. The album, dedicated to his grandmother, who had schizophrenia, included hits like “Trop beau” and “1000°C” and was also certified double platinum.

In 2019, Lomepal gave fans even more with the release of Amina, a deluxe version of Jeannine featuring new tracks and remixes. 

While he announced his retirement from music in 2020, Lomepal couldn’t stay away from the studio for long.

He delighted fans with a surprise single, Auburn, in June 2021 and followed it up with his third album, Mauvais Ordre, released in September 2021. 

The album is a deeper dive into Lomepal’s psyche, exploring themes such as addiction, depression, love, and death. Don’t miss out on this multi-talented artist’s incredible musical journey! 

6. Soprano

Soprano is a famous French singer and rapper, born Saïd M’Roumbaba in Marseille in 1979. He started rapping at 16 with the group Psy 4 de la Rime and released his first solo album, “Puisqu’il faut vivre,” in 2007. 

Soprano is known for his positive messages and collaborations with artists like Akon, Black M, and Indila.

He also owns his own label and mentors young talents. His biggest successes have come with the diamond-certified albums “Cosmopolitanie,” “L’Everest,” and “Phoenix,” which have produced hits such as “Clown,” “Cosmo,” and “À la vie à l’amour.”

He is a multifaceted artist who also acts, produces, and supports various causes. 

But above all, Soprano is a family man who dedicates his songs to his wife, Alexia, and their three children. His music is a testament to his values, making him a true inspiration to many people worldwide. 

7. France Gall

France Gall, born Isabelle Gall in Paris in 1947, falls among the famous singers of France as well as a star of the yé-yé pop movement. 

She won the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest with “Poupée de cire, poupée de son,” written by Serge Gainsbourg.

Gall had a successful career with a string of hits, including some with suggestive lyrics, that she later regretted. 

She also sang songs by other composers, such as Michel Berger, whom she married in 1976. The couple collaborated on successful albums and songs, including “Ella, elle l’a,” her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

She faced personal tragedies with the deaths of Berger and her daughter, Pauline. She took a break from music but returned in 2004 with a new album, France, and created a musical based on Berger’s songs, Résiste, which premiered in 2015. 

She passed away from cancer in 2018 at the age of 70, but her music still lives on in the hearts of many fans worldwide.

8. Isabelle Geffroy

Isabelle Geffroy, known as Zaz, is a French songwriter and singer who mixes a French variety of jazzy styles, acoustic and soul. 

Born in 1980 in Tours, France, Isabella started her musical career in blues and jazz bands.

Isabelle rose to fame with her first album Zaz, released in 2010, which featured her debut single “Je veux.” 

The album sold over 5 million copies worldwide, including 2 million outside France. Zaz has been compared to Edith Piaf for her powerful voice and emotional expression.

She has also been inspired by other singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Enrico Macias, and Bobby McFerrin. 

Some of her most famous songs include “Éblouie par la nuit,” “Port Coton,” and “La fée,” written by Raphaël Haroche. 

Zaz won several awards for her music, such as the European Border Breakers Award in 2011 and the Victoires de la Musique Award for Original Song of the Year in 2014.

9. Serge Gainsbourg

Meet Serge Gainsbourg, a French musician, singer-songwriter, actor, author, and filmmaker born Lucien Ginsburg in Paris in 1928. 

Beginning his musical career as a pianist, Gainsbourg became a composer and producer for other famous artists such as Petula Clark, Juliette Greco, and Dionne Warwick.

Still, Gainsbourg did not win many’s hearts but was still considered an impressive artist who also performed his own songs, dubbed provocative and scandalous, blending genres such as pop, rock, jazz, reggae, and electronica. 

He is most famous for his duets with French actresses Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin (Lou Doillon’s mother from her marriage to film director Jacques Doillon), especially for “Je t’aime… moi non plus”, a song that caused quite a stir for its erotic lyrics and sounds.

Despite being banned in many countries, the song topped the charts in several European countries. 

Gainsbourg also wrote songs celebrating pop culture icons such as “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Harley Davidson,” and “Comic Strip.” 

He won several awards for his music, including the Charles Cros – Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie and the Victoires de la Musique award for best male artist of the year.

Overall, Serge remains an impressive artist who left a mark on the music industry with his unique style and provocative lyrics.

10. Jacques Brel

Jacques Brel was an exceptional Belgian singer-songwriter born in Brussels in 1929 and began playing and mastering the piano at a young age. 

After starting out as a cabaret singer in Brussels and Paris, he rose to prominence as a composer and producer for himself and other performers. 

Brel’s songs are known for their poetic, emotional, and theatrical style, blending chanson, pop, and folk genres.

He is famous for his hits such as “Ne me quitte pas,” “Quand on n’a que l’amour,” “Amsterdam,” and “La chanson des vieux amants,” which have been covered by many artists worldwide. 

Brel was also a successful actor and filmmaker, appearing in ten films and directing two of them.

He received many prestigious awards for his music and films, including the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros in 1962 and the Prix Louis Delluc in 1973 for his film “Le Far West.”

11. Vanessa Paradis

Vanessa Paradis is a talented French singer, actress, and model born in 1972. 

She first rose to fame at the age of 14 with her hit single “Joe le taxi” (1987), which topped the charts in over ten countries! 

She then released her debut album, which sold over two million copies worldwide, establishing a powerful presence in the French music industry.

Vanessa also started a modeling and acting career, later winning the Most Promising Actress – César Award for her role in Noce Blanche in 1990. 

Since then, Vanessa has continued to release music and star in films alongside some of France’s biggest names. She’s been a Chanel model (perhaps the most famous French fashion brand) for over 30 years and has represented their perfumes and accessories.

Vanessa’s personal life has also made headlines, as she was in a long-term relationship with actor Johnny Depp, and they have two children together. 

She later married director Samuel Benchetrit in 2018. Still, to this day, Vanessa remains a true French icon of culture and entertainment!

12. Julien Doré

Julien Doré is a French singer-songwriter, musician, producer, and actor who rose to fame after winning the fifth season of Nouvelle Star, a popular TV talent show, in 2007. 

He is also the great-great-grandson of Émile Waldteufel, a famous composer.

Doré’s distinctive style blends pop, folk, and rock influences with quirky lyrics and a charismatic stage presence. 

He plays various instruments, including the ukulele, which he used to impress the jury and the audience during his audition for Nouvelle Star.

Since his debut album Ersatz, in 2008, Doré has released five more studio albums: Bichon (2011), Løve (2013), & (2016), Aimée (2020), and Tendre (2021). 

Some of his most successful songs include Les Limites, Paris-Seychelles, Le Lac, Coco Câline, and Nous. He has also collaborated with various artists, including Coeur de Pirate, Mika, Brigitte, and Clara Luciani.

Doré has received several awards and nominations for his music career. In 2015, he won the Victoire de l’artiste interprète masculin (Best Male Artist) at the Victoires de la musique , the French equivalent of the Grammys

He was also nominated for Best French Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2008 and 2014.

Doré is not only a talented musician but also an actor. He has appeared in several films and TV shows, such as Pop Redemption (2013), Les Francis (2014), and La Confession (2017).

13. Carla Bruni

Meet Carla Bruni, the Italian-born French singer and former model who stole the world’s heart with her music. 

After moving to France at seven years old, Carla became a fashion icon before shifting her focus to music. 

Her debut album, Quelqu’un m’a dit, was a surprise hit and sold over two million copies worldwide.

By blending chanson, folk, and pop genres, Bruni’s music style is quite flexible, and she sings in French, English, Italian, and Spanish.

Since then, Carla has released five more albums, including Little French Songs and French Touch. Alongside her singing career, she’s appeared in films like Midnight in Paris (one of the many movies set in Paris) and has been involved in various humanitarian causes. 

She even created the Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation in 2009 to support initiatives like education for girls and animal welfare.

Bruni’s most notable hits include “Quelqu’un m’a dit,” “L’amoureuse,” and “The Winner Takes It All.” 

She’s collaborated with legendary artists like Harry Connick Jr., Willie Nelson, and Ennio Morricone. 

Bruni never won any significant awards, but she’s certainly made an outstanding name for herself in the world of music and beyond! 

14. Joyce Jonathan

Joyce Jonathan is a French singer-songwriter born in Levallois-Perret in November 1989. 

She began playing the piano at the young age of seven and composing her own songs at age 11. 

Joyce also taught herself to play the guitar and was influenced by artists like Tracy Chapman and Jean-Jacques Goldman.

At age 16, she posted some of her songs on MySpace and contacted Michael Goldman, co-founder of the label My Major Company, becoming one of the first artists to be funded by internet users. 

In 2010, her debut album Sur mes gardes went gold in May and platinum in October. It included hit singles Je ne sais pas, Pas besoin de toi, and a duet with Tété.

The female singer won the NRJ Music Award for Francophone Breakthrough of the Year in 2011. 

And Jonathan has released four more albums since then: Caractère (2013), Une place pour moi (2016), On (2018), and Joie de vivre (2020). 

Her music style is a mix of folk and pop; she sings in French, Mandarin, Spanish, and English songs. She has collaborated with artists like Vianney, Ycare, Patrick Bruel, and Calogero.

Aside from music, Jonathan has acted in some films and TV shows, such as L’École pour tous (2006) and Sous le même toit (2017). 

She also supports various humanitarian causes, like fighting breast cancer, promoting cultural diversity, supporting girls’ education, and defending animal rights. 

And finally, In 2014, she participated in the fifth season of Danse avec les stars on TF1.

15. Christophe Mae

Christophe Maé is a talented French musician born in 1975 in Carpentras. At age six, he began playing the violin and later learned guitar, harmonica, and drums.

 Famous musicians, including Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman, and Ben Harper, inspired him.

In 2005, Maé played the role of Monsieur in the musical Le Roi Soleil, a performance that won him the NRJ Music Award for Revelation of the Year in ‘06. 

He showcased his first solo album, Mon Paradis, in 2007, which sold over 1.6 million copies and included popular songs like Parce qu’on sait jamais, On s’attache, and Ça fait mal.

Maé has released five more successful albums since then, including On trace la route and Je veux du bonheur, showcasing his diverse blend of pop, folk, reggae, soul, and blues genres. 

He has also collaborated with renowned artists such as Youssou N’Dour, Patrick Bruel, Calogero, and Ceuzany.

Not only his singing talent runs through his veins – he has also acted in several films and has been involved with numerous humanitarian causes, including fighting malaria, supporting education for children, and promoting environmental awareness. 

Finally, in 2012, he became a UNICEF ambassador, cementing his commitment to making the world a better place. 

16. Indila

Indila is a French songwriter and accomplished singer born in June 1984 in Paris with Algerian, Egyptian, Cambodian, and Indian roots. 

She’s a “child of the world” who learned Hindi and Mandarin as a child and was influenced by Indian music and culture.

Her music career began early in 2009 when she collaborated with various French rappers and singers on vocals and songwriting. 

She released her first solo single, Dernière danse (Last Dance), in 2013. It was a massive hit in France and abroad, followed by three more singles: Tourner dans le vide (Spinning Around), SOS, and Run Run.

She released her first album, titled “Mini World,” in 2014, a certified diamond in France, and sold over a million copies worldwide. 

Her music style is a mix of world, pop, folk, and orchestral genres, and she’s won several awards, including two NRJ Music Awards, two MTV Europe Music Awards, and one Victoires de la Musique Award.

17. Joséphine Baker

Joséphine Baker was an American-born French singer, dancer, and actress who dazzled audiences with her unique and energetic performances in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Baker was also a civil rights activist who fought against racism and adopted 12 children of different nationalities to create her “rainbow tribe.”

Born Freda Josephine McDonald in Missouri, she grew up in poverty and started dancing at a young age to support her family.

She moved to New York City and joined the Harlem Renaissance before moving to Paris in 1925, where she became an overnight sensation with her “danse sauvage” and her iconic banana skirt.

Baker’s singing career stretched far and wide with popular hits such as “J’ai deux amours” (I Have Two Loves) – in 1931 and “La vie en rose” (Life in Pink) – in 1950.

She starred in several films, such as Siren of the Tropics (1927) and Zouzou (1934), and became a French citizen in 1937. 

During World War II, she worked as a spy for the French Resistance and entertained troops in Africa and the Middle East.

Through all her efforts, she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour for her bravery. 

She continued to perform until her death in 1975 at age 68. Yet, her music will forever remain a respectable classic to this day as she continues to be an inspiration for many aspiring artists.

18. Jean-Jacques Goldman

Jean-Jacques Goldman is a French singer-songwriter and music producer who has been one of France’s most popular and influential artists since the 1980s. 

He started his career as a vocalist member of the progressive rock band Taï Phong before launching his solo career in 1981 with the hit song “Il suffira d’un signe.”

He has released nine solo albums and six live albums, all certified platinum or diamond, and has written and composed songs for many other artists, such as Johnny Hallyday (mentioned above), Céline Dion, Patrick Fiori, and Garou.

He was also part of the trio Fredericks Goldman Jones with Carole Fredericks and Michael Jones from 1990 to 1995. 

Some of his most famous songs include Quand la musique est bonne (1982), Je te donne (1985), Là-bas (1987), Puisque tu pars (1988) and Envole-moi (1993). He retired from the music scene in 2004 but remains highly respected and influential in France.

19. Claude François

Claude François was a French pop singer, dancer, and producer who rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s with his catchy songs and energetic stage shows. He was also known by his nickname Cloclo. 

Born in Egypt to a French father and an Italian mother, he moved to France with his family after the Suez Crisis in 1956.

He started his musical career as a drummer before becoming a singer and forming his own label Flèche Productions. 

He had many hits, such as Belles! Belles! Belles! (1962), Comme d’habitude (1967), Le lundi au soleil (1972), Le téléphone pleure (1974) and Alexandrie Alexandra (1978).

He also adapted many English-language songs into French, such as My Way (Comme d’habitude), December 1963 (Oh What A Night) (Cette année-là), and I Go To Rio (Je vais à Rio). 

Sadly, he died tragically at age 39 when he was electrocuted by a faulty light fixture in his bathroom. 

20. Melanie Pain

Melanie Pain is a French indie pop singer from Caen with a versatile and captivating voice. 

She first gained attention as a vocalist for the band Nouvelle Vague, where she gave a fresh twist to classic songs from the ’80s, such as This Is Not A Love Song, Teenage Kicks, and Master And Servant. 

She also worked with other artists, such as M83 and Villeneuve, showcasing her range and talent.

In 2009, she released her first solo album, My Name, which featured original songs in both French and English that reflected her influences of folk, pop, and rock artists such as Sonic Youth, The Smiths, Pixies, PJ Harvey, and Nick Drake. 

She followed it with Bye Bye Manchester in 2012 and Parachute in 2016.

Her music has been praised by fans and critics alike for its honesty, emotion, and charm. 

Melanie has also won several awards for her work, such as the Prix Constantin in 2009 for My Name and the Prix Talents W9 in 2013 for Bye Bye Manchester

21. Eddy Mitchell

Eddy Mitchell is a French actor and singer who has been a legend of rock and roll and country music for over six decades. 

He started his career in 1960 as the leader of Les Chaussettes Noires (The Black Socks), one of the first rock bands in France.

He took his stage name from Eddie Constantine, an American actor who starred in French films. 

He went solo in 1963 and released dozens of albums that mixed rock, rhythm, blues, country, and pop. 

He also adapted many American songs into French, such as Be Bop A Lula (Daniela), C’est La Vie (Pauvre Diable), and Sur La Route De Memphis (On The Road To Memphis).

He collaborated with many famous artists, such as Johnny Hallyday, Charles Aznavour, Serge Gainsbourg, and Chuck Berry. He also had a successful acting career, appearing in over 30 films and TV shows.

Finally, Mitchell won several awards for his music and his films, such as the Victoire de la Musique for Best Male Artist in 1994 and 2004, the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros in 2010 and 2013, and the César Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1991.

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