Famous French people - the Quiz

The look and feel of Paris has been shaped over the years by its inhabitants; from the city planning to the architecture, to the café culture of intellectuals meeting to discuss the arts and literature, and those who have helped create the chic and luxurious image of Parisians. There are too many to make a full list here, but we have picked out a few, in the form of a quiz. Let’s see how many you know. We’ll ease you in gently, but they do get harder. If you need a little help you can have a look through our Landmarks page or on the Facebook page for hints. Enjoy!

1. Engineer and architect
A famous French engineer and architect gained experience building many bridges for the French railway network before starting his own contracting company to work on buildings and structural projects all over the world (railway stations, places of worship, theatres, gasworks, educational establishments, hotels, and so on). He is most famous for the iconic tower in Paris but was also responsible for the Statue of Liberty in New York. Who is he?

 Alexandre Gustave Eiffel
 Jean Nouvel
 Gustave Alexandre Effel
 Eugène Viollet-le-Duc

2. Statesman
An exuberant Frenchman was appointed by Napoleon III to rebuild Paris and thus undertaking the largest reconstruction project ever seen in Europe. He created the Grands Boulevards by tearing down old buildings to connect central points of the city as per Napoleon’s wishes. The buildings lining these new boulevards had to be of a standard height and use the same white stone creating that ‘signature look’ of Paris; these buildings are named after him. He was also involved in creating the large parks of Paris (Bois de Boulogne, Bois de Vincennes, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and Parc Montsouris) and revamping the older parks (including Parc Monceau and the Jardin du Luxembourg). He also put in place the sewers, water and gas supply networks. A lot of what he created can still be seen today. Who is he?

 Marquis de Vauban
 Georges-Eugène Haussmann
 Joseph Monier
 Charles Garnier

3. Fashion designer
An influential French fashion designer lived and worked in Paris in the 1900s. She founded her own brand of clothing, jewellery, handbags and perfumes. She helped liberate the post war women from their corsets and gave them the elegant casual chic look. In her earlier years she was an entertainer and earned the nickname ‘coco’. She is also closely associated with the number five! You will still find the brand in Luxury Paris. Who is she?

 Jeanne Lanvin
 Nina Ricci
 Madame Grès
 Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel

4. Sculptor
A famous French artist was born in Paris in 1840. He is most famous for his sculptures, and is often dubbed as one of the fathers of modern sculpture because his works were so realistic. He also sketched and painted, aiding him as an artist. He had a style of his own and was widely criticised at first, but his reputation steadily grew and by 1900 he was world renowned and a highly sought after artist. He is most famous for ‘The thinker’. He has works in museums in Paris, including a museum dedicated to him in his former residence. Who is he?

 Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi
 Auguste Renoir
 Auguste Rodin
 Auguste Escoffier

5. Poet and novelist
A well respected 19th century French poet, novelist, and dramatist was also a campaigner for social causes. He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers and is well known for his novels Les Misérables, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (set of course in the Cathedral de Notre Dame de Paris). He is buried in the Panthéon, an honour reserved for only France’s most distinguished people. Who is he?

 Victor Hugo
 Emile Zola
 Honoré de Balzac
 Guy de Maupassant

6. Political and military leader
One of the most famous political and military leaders in all of history was the Emperor of France from 1804 to 1814. He was the great hero of the French people throughout the 19th century. He was prominent during the French Revolution and led the wars in Europe, and implemented liberal reforms across Europe. His final resting place is in a tomb under the ornate dome of Les Invalides. There is a statue of him on top of the column in Place Vendome. Who is he?

 Louis Philippe
 Napoleon Bonaparte
 Alexandre le Grand 
 Louis XIV

7. Cabaret singer
A French cabaret singer is known internationally for her music, and through films and plays written about her life. She was born in Paris but raised in a brothel in Normandy. She came back to Paris at the age of 15 and paid her way by singing in the street in the Pigalle area. It is here that she was ‘discovered’ and began singing in clubs, from there she quickly became France’s most popular entertainer. Her music reflects the loves, losses and sorrow of her life, amongst the most famous are: ‘La Vie en rose’, ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ and ‘Padam’. Her grave is one of the most visited in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and there is a museum dedicated to her in Paris. Who is she?

 Lucienne Boyer
 Edith Piaf

8. Painter
One of the founders of French Impressionist painting was born in Paris in 1840. His passion was to document the French countryside, often painting the same scene repeatedly to capture different light and seasons. The term “Impressionism” actually comes from the title of his painting Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise). His most famous works are his series of water lilies housed in the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries. He also has many paintings on display at the Musee d’Orsay, and a museum dedicated to him which houses the world’s largest collection of his works. Who is he?

 Edouard Manet
 Claude Monet
 Edgar Degas
 Paul Cézanne

9. Political and military leader
Another strong French military and political leader dominated France in the 1900s. He would not accept the French government’s armistice with Germany in 1940 and created the ‘Free French Forces’ from French soldiers in Britain, organising the resistance from London with the help of French colonies, notably Africa. After participating in the liberation of Paris he became the leader of a new democratic France. During his presidency he asserted France as a major power in its own right, not dependent on any other country, part of which was the development of French atomic weapons. He stabilised the country’s political and economic status. He also gave African colonies their independence. You will see his name all over Paris – including one of the main airports, an avenue, and a famous roundabout where the Arc de Triomphe stands. Who is he?

 General Charles de Gaulle
 Maréchal Joffre
 Georges Pompidou
 François Mitterand

10. Sportsman
There is a professional basketball player who used to play in the French basketball league but who now plays point guard for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA league. He is renowned for his speed and agility, and for being relatively short (for a basketball player anyway!). He is also in to hip-hop music and has his own album, “TP”. His first wedding was in Paris, with the Roman Catholic ceremony at the Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois Church, just behind the Louvre. Some people don’t know that he was raised in France. Who is he?

 Mickael Piétrus
 Joakim Noah
 Ronny Turiaf
 William Anthony “Tony” Parker, Jr.

And the winner is…

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