Our favourite French singers, past and present

  • May 28, 2020
  • All things Paris
  • Aysha Ferullo

Throughout this period of quarantine, we, amongst many others, have sought comfort in the art of music, whether that be through our favourite musical movies, or records themselves. What better way to forget our troubles than immersing ourselves in our favourite songs? French music just so happens to be one of our favourites, and it’s especially useful if you’re wanting to feel closer to French culture, or even pick up more of the language. While attending concerts (or even visiting France if you’re currently abroad) isn’t possible at the moment, what we’re still able to do is put our headphones in or crank up the speakers (provided your neighbours don’t mind) and feel the beat! Today, we’ve rounded up our favourite French musical artists, past and present, to offer some inspiration and get you moving!

Édith Piaf

We’re sure that having this name on the top of our list won’t come as a surprise to you, as Édith Piaf’s legacy has truly stood the test of time…and language! An adored musician across the globe still today, Piaf was a master of her craft. We even made a blog post including more Piaf details – be sure to check it out! Édith Piaf’s life has inspired many works of art to follow, such as plays and films (including 2007 Academy Award-winning La Vie En Rose). Édith lived a troubled life, rendering her music emotive and poignant, a sound we’d highly recommend to any and all.

Check out this Édith Piaf playlist

Jacques Brel

While Belgian, Jacques Brel makes the list for being another one of our favourite pop Francophone singers. Brel’s music career began in the 50s and he had a healthy run until his retirement from the stage in the early 70s. Brel actually began a film career in 1967 and ended up appearing in a total of ten feature films, his debut being André Cayatte’s Risky Business. While focusing on his film career, he continued recording studio albums. Jacques Brel has influenced many artists globally and shaped the music scene as we know it today, with artists such as Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone expressing the influence Brel has had on their musical careers.  

Check out this Jacques Brel playlist

Charles Aznavour

Charles Aznavour is another one of our favourite French musical artists, and for good reason. He’s been offering us incredible records for decades and has released an impressive total of 39 studio albums in his time. With a theatre background running through his childhood, he was no stranger to the stage when he first began performing in nightclubs in 1944. He was even a huge success in the UK; his song She even nabbed the number 1 spot for four weeks in the UK singles charts. As well as French, Aznavour also sang in Italian, English, Spanish, Kabyle, German, Russian, Armenian and Neapolitan, rendering him hugely successful on a global scale!

Check out this Charles Anzavour playlist


A more contemporary pick, and yet another Belgian musician, is Angèle. She was inspired to pursue a career in music when her father encouraged her to play the piano from a young age. Her style can be described as pop, and for all you singer/songwriter fans out there, you’ll definitely enjoy her sound! Her debut studio album reached the top spot on the Belgian and French charts and even went 4x platinum. Angèle is very active on social media, especially useful as we’re currently unable to attend her concerts. She’s certainly a breath of fresh air in the francophone music industry! We’re sure you’ll love her, too. 

Check out this Angèle playlist

Maître Gims

On a different note, fans of rap/hip hop will seek interest in the works of Maître Gims, yet another French musical artist to look out for. Coming from a musical background himself, his work is full of passion. His father is vocalist Djanana Djuna, while his brother Dadju is also a French singer/rapper. He has a total of three studio albums and is still making music today, keep your eyes peeled for new sounds on the way! 

Check out this Maître Gims playlist

Julien Doré

You may have heard of Julien Doré from his career as an actor, we’re personally huge fans of his work on screen, and we also love his unique musical style of pop, folk and alternative rock. Getting his musical start from winning the show Nouvelle Star, he’s been making music ever since, to our pleasure! He’s also acted in a few films, and even made a guest appearance on popular drama Call My Agent! Check out his music for yourself, you won’t regret it!

Check out this Julien Doré playlist

Manu Chao

Yet another intercontinental artist, Many Chao is of French and Spanish descent and is well known for singing in French, English, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, Galician, Greek and Portuguese – there truly is something for everybody! His style ranges from reggae to Latin alternative – you’re simply spoilt for choice. Manu spent his childhood in Boulogne-Billancourt and Sèvres after emigrating with his family to Paris to avoid Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. His music career started at the tender age of 23 and he claims to have been greatly influenced by the UK rock scene, so any fans of The Clash will certainly enjoy his sound!

Check out this Manu Chao playlist

Pierre Delanoë

Throwing is back once more, our list of favourite French musical artists wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Pierre Delanoë. Delanoë, as well as singing, actually wrote songs for many French musicians, including our previously honoured favourites, Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. His lyricism is what gave him his name in France, writing some of France’s most prized musical pieces with Gilbert Bécaud. The two joined forces and began working together after World War II, even singing in clubs for a while at the start of their collaboration. In 2004, Bécaud was awarded a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest culture award, and certainly well deserved! Try your hand at listening to some of his stuff, though you probably already have!