Top 10 Female French Singers
France is known for many things, and producing some exceptional musical and artistic talents is certainly one of them. From Dalida to France Gall, here is our guide to the top 10 French female singers.
1. Edith Piaf
The timeless Parisian love ballads of Edith Piaf need little introduction, but most people are surprised to learn the singer’s background story. Born and raised in Paris’ 20th arrondissement, Edith Piaf got her start as a street performer. In her early twenties, she was asked to sing in her first cabaret, and people quickly noticed her talent. From there Edith Piaf quickly shot to international fame with hits like “la vie en rose”. And even today, decades after her death, she is still honored as France’s national singer.
Born in Cairo to Italian parents, Dalida was an iconic pop singer and actress. After growing up in Cairo, Dalida moved to Paris where her musica talents were quickly discovered. And just two years after arriving in Paris, she opened for Charles Aznavour at the Olympia concert hall. From there, Dalida’s career skyrocketed. Over the years, she recorded hundreds of songs in French and Italian, which would go on to become classics. You can see the singer’s former home, and even a bronze bust of her on our Montmartre tour.
3. Françoise Hardy
Perhaps you know Françoise Hardy as a singer-songwriter, or maybe as a fashion icon. Either way, you’re correct. Since her début in the early 1960s, Françoise Hardy has been regarded as a French fashion icon, and a symbol of 60s pop culture. During her lengthy musical career, Hardy was at the forefront of the yé-yé genre, with the likes of Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Dutronc. Her most famous track is ‘le temps de l’amour’ which is a classic Parisian-style love ballad.
4. Joséphine Baker
While Josephine Baker was actually American by birth, it would be impossible to create this list and not include her. After all, Baker went down in history for being one of the best female singers of all time. And her career took off when she moved to Paris. Baker’s unique voice and swanky dance moves took the Parisian jazz age to new heights. A favorite at cabarets and jazz clubs across the city, Baker embraced her new country with plenty of enthusiasm. And in turn, France loved her right back.
5. Vanessa Paradis
Perhaps one of the most well-known on my list of the top 10 French female singers, Vanessa Paradis is also an actress and model. Her singing career started young, and she rose to stardom with her hit single ‘Joe le Taxi’ at just fourteen years old. By her late teens, Paradis was an established singer, and her acting and modeling careers would soon take off. She has been one of the faces and muses of Chanel fashion house since 1991! Today, her daughter Lily-Rose Depp (with ex-husband Johnny Depp) has followed in her footsteps to become an international supermodel, as well as the face of Chanel.
6. Carla Bruni
Carla Bruni is an French-Italian singer, songwriter, and famous model. She’s most well-known for her music career, but she was also the First Lady of France during her marriage to former President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In 2002, Bruni released her first album, with her biggest hit ‘Quelqu’un m’a dit’, a rather melancholy love song. This first hit skyrocketed to the top of the French charts, and stayed there for weeks. It is still her most popular track nearly two decades later.
7. Brigitte Bardot
No list of the top 10 female French singers would be complete without Brigitte Bardot. Known mainly for her many roles on the silver screen during the 60s, Brigitte Bardot was a woman of many talents. An accomplished actress, model, and animal rights activist, Brigitte Bardot also made a foray into the world of music during the 1960s and 70s. She recorded several albums, but her most famous were the duets she performed with Serge Gainsbourg, notably ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.
8. Céline Dion
While Quebecoise by birth, Céline Dion’s strong vocals and powerful lyrics (in French and English) have become iconic. Not only in her native Canada, but especially in France and even internationally. Her singing career started off when she was just five years old, with the now world-renowned vocalist claiming she had always dreamed of being a singer. And based on her success that’s not hard to believe!
By 1983, Céline Dion had received a gold record in France for her hit single ‘D’amour ou d’amitie’ and was well on her way to the superstardom she enjoys today.
9. Véronique Sanson
While today she’s an award-winning singer songwriter and one of France’s most successful female vocalists, Véronique Sanson is still perhaps one of the lesser-known French female artists on our top 10 list. Though she definitely deserves a spot. Born just outside Paris in Boulogne-Billaincourt, Sanson’s musical career started early, and she was writing and composing her first songs by age thirteen. In the early 70s, her career really took off with the release of her hit pop-rock album ‘Amoureuse’, which also signaled the end of the yé-yé movement.
10. France Gall
France Gall was somewhat destined to become one of the top 10 female French singers. She was born into a very musical family, and her father was a famed lyricist who actually wrote songs for the likes of Edith Piaf! So singing and songwriting seemed to come naturally to France Gall, and at just 17 years old she won the Eurovision Song Contest helping to start her career. Gall started touring France, and had many notable collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg, and Giorgio Moroder to name a couple.
Well, now you know our picks for the top 10 female French singers! Who would you add to the list?
See you soon in Paris!