who in France... (#1)
||To understand a
country you should know some people who are very well known
by everyone in the country, even if their fame has not crossed
the border. Here are some examples.
But for many of them, it does not last... On this page, people who were famous between 1995 and 2010 and who no longer make cover pages !
| Living personalities
|Olivier Besancenot (born 1974) is the spokesman of Ligue
Communiste Révolutionnaire (L.C.R.) now N.A.P. (New Anti-capitalism Party), one of the two main
Trotskyist organisations with L.O. (see Laguiller).
A postman in Neuilly (the wealthiest suburb of Paris), he enjoys
an excellent image in the medias (a wolf in sheep's clothing)
and won more than 4 % of the vote in the 2007 presidential election
with the motto : "Our lives are worth more than their profits".
Read about some of his voters, the altermondialistes.
Dati (born 1966), the
daughter of an Algerian worker, made her way up to the level
of Minister of Justice, the fourth most prestigious position
in the government of Sarkozy.
She is a hard worker
and a brilliant example of the new France where the most
||Jean Marie Messier (born
1954) illustrates the worst aspects of the French society. A
graduate of the most prestigious Grandes
Ecoles (X & ENA), he spent a few years as a junior member
of a Cabinet then as "associé" in a leading
investment bank (Lazard) and at age 40, without haver ever been
anything else than the boss, he was appointed CEO of Compagnie
Générale des Eaux (the world leader of the water
industry). Arrogant and megalomaniac, it took him only five years
to take it almost to bankrupcy and Vivendi (the new name) only
escaped it after selling (at a loss) almost all the companies
he had taken over, including Universal Studios and his $17m apartment
on Central Park. A French Enron (without fraud). Today, JMM still
fights over his golden parachute and considers that nobody really
undestood his superior intelligence.
children of immigrants from North and West Africa can become
members of the government (like her two women colleagues Rama
Yade and Fadela Amara of Senegalese and Algerian origin). More
about women in political
|Bernard Kouchner (born 1939)
is a very popular figure in France ; one of the founders of Medecins Sans Frontières (doctors
without borders, the " French Doctors ") he has been
successful in his successive roles as a leader of the students
in the 1968 riots and later in radical students' movements, a
minister of Health in the socialist governments of Mitterrand,
and the representative of UN in Kosovo. Now he has been appointed
Minister of Foreign Affairs by Nicholas Sarkozy, who also appointed
to his cabinet other members of the Socialist Party, although
his strong majority does not require it. The Socialist Party
is very upset and has ousted Kouchner (anything bipartisan
is considered betrayal in France).
Laguiller (born 1940)
was the spokeswoman of Lutte Ouvrière (L.O.), one of the
two major Trotskyist organizations in France (see Besancenot)
; since 1974, she has been candidate in every presidential election
in France and her scores are far from negligible (around 5%). Although L.O. has many aspects of a sect and would maybe behave
like the Red Khmers if ever in power, she is popular and many
people, who would not consider voting for her, think that among
politicians, she is the only one sincere ; read about the strange
phenomenon of Trotskyism
Zinedine Zidane (born 1972) was the most famous football
player in the French team and the hero of the World Cup, won
by France in 1998. A very gentle and poised man, he speaks with
this typical chanting accent from Marseille ; a hero and a living
example for the whole community of "beurs"
(French of Algerian origin). He always ranks among the most-loved
me if you had a question to ask or a suggestion for another
see the section " most popular French personalities "). Other names suggested by visitors include :
Pierre Boulez, Jean-Marie Le Clezio, etc...
| Personalities of the recent past
Pierre (1912-2007) was the
most loved French personality; a priest in the Resistance,
his entire life had been devoted to the poor and he became famous
in the early 1950s by launching a huge campaign to find shelter
for the thousands of homeless people in post-war France ; he
founded the Compagnons d'Emmaüs, an association which gives
a job (collecting abandoned furniture and clothes) and a place
to sleep to the poorest ; these Maisons d'Emmaüs are a network
of thriftshops all over the country ; Abbé Pierre was
a living icon, considered a saint by most people. Read about
the emotion in France when he died.
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)
better and for worse, she set the agenda for the feminist movement
with he book "The Second Sex"
Coco Chanel (1894-1971) : the ultimate arbiter of
"chic", she released women from the ryranny of fashion,
combining style and comfort "luxury must be comfortable,
otherwise it is not luxury"
Coluche (Michel Colucci) (1944-1986) : an extremely
popular comedian, in the French traditional graphic, often Rabelaisian and even
often scatological style ; he founded the "Restaurants
du Coeur" which distributes meals to the poor (60 million
meals last year with 40,000 volunteers)
Other names suggested by visitors
include : Yves Saint-Laurent, Soeur Emmanuelle, etc...
|To related pages : headlines in the French media, who's who in France (#1), historical
heroes (#2), schools
namedafter famous people, etc...
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Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French.
Order her books :
- "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
- "French Toast, An American in Paris
Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press,
New York, 1999
- "French Fried, The Culinary Capers
of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001
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