Our favourite Parisians through the ages

  • 27, Dec 2019
  • Parisian theatre
  • Jocelyn Wensjoe

You may have heard their names being thrown around a lot in France and even in other parts of the world, but do you know everything there is to know about them? You’re in Paris, the city rich in art and history, so it makes sense to want to find out who these noted individuals were. We’re going to give you the down-low on who and why these Parisian artists are so beloved and now an important part of history as a result of the revolution they have evoked in the world of performing arts.

edith piaf

Edith Piaf

Coming in as number 1, the creator and singer of the famed French song, La Vie En Rose. There was more to Edith Piaf’s life than anyone can imagine. Her life was actually quite tragic, which made for unforgettable music. Out of all the things that happened in her life, Edith Piaf would write a song about it. Her life story was so captivating that in Paris there is a musical written about her background and music career called I Love Piaf, The Musical. To make a long story brief, Edith Piaf was born in Belleville a district here in Paris in the 20th arrondissement. She might be remembered for her hit song La Vie En Rose which helped her climb the ladder to fame, but she has written many other songs throughout her life. Having been abandoned by her parents and suffering the loss of both her child and then her husband, she still managed to continue living life even with the emptiness she felt from having lost so much. Her life sadly ended in 1963 from liver failure.

Book tickets to see I Love Piaf, The Musical

pierre marivaux

Pierre Marivaux

Better yet known only by his last name Marivaux, a famous French author and playwriter born in Paris. He was very talented and known for writing comedy pieces with a twist. Successful strategies known as L’heureux Stratageme in French is a superb demonstration of the type of humorous playwrights he would write about. Successful strategies has a little bit of dark humor, it tells the story of a Marquise who lost his wife to another man because of the lack of attention from his side. The Marquise then comes up with a corrupt plan which leads to an unusually funny series of events in order to get the countess back. You seem Marivaux was also a big enthusiast of drama, hence the playwright just mentioned. He wrote his very first play t only 20 years of age, it was no surprise that the man was talented. He admired theatre starting at a very young age. Though his work was admired by many during his life, he did not achieve fame until his death. In reality, Marivaux passed away as an impoverished man. In the 19th century, his work became well known and is currently an important figure in theatre. He is an iconic being which is why his body is not buried in any cemetery in Paris, his burial lies within the walls of the famed Saint- Eustache church.

Book tickets to Marivaux's Successful Strategies

Gustave Eiffel

His last name says it all, Gustave Eiffel has got to be one of the most recognized names internationally. Responsible for the construction of the timeless monuments that differentiates Paris from all other countries, Gustave Eiffel is cherished among the French community for having built the exemplary Eiffel Tower. He wasn’t exactly born in Paris, France but he lived his whole life here and left his mark in history for a lifetime. Born in Dijon, France he then moved to Paris to study arts and manufacturing and took an interest in metal construction. He was set out to help with the construction of the statue of liberty that was given to the U.S. as a gift by the French. He built the inner metal skeletal area of the structure. After a couple of years, he then designed the Eiffel Tower and from there it all became history, he even built himself a small room up in the tower and until today it is still intact. There is even a live classical concert held on certain days within the second floor of this historical masterpiece. If you have time this event could be a great opportunity to enjoy Gustave Eiffel’s work of art while listening to Mozart in the background. His accomplishments have inspired many writers to create playwrights about his life whether it being fiction or non-fiction, letting their imagination take over. Sky’s the limit, a comedy play displays the story of two young engineers who try to come up with the brilliant idea of creating an architectural design that will attract visitors from far and wide. The idea was to create a tower so tall it seemed as if it were about to reach the sky, they’re referring to the iron lady of course. Their only problem now is finding a way to pitch their idea to Gustave Eiffel. This is actually where the design of the landmark came from, though Gustave Eiffel gained all the glory because it was he who funded the project and the tower was named after him.

Book tickets to The Eiffel Tower Concert Series

marie

Marie Antoinette

There is a love-hate feeling for one of the most talked-about queens of France, Marie Antoinette that is. Movies, plays, and knick-knacks have been made to remember her. Born in Vienna, Austria Marie Antoinette was then arranged to be married to King Louis XVI at only 15 years old. Both Antoinette and King Louis got married in the third most visit landmark in Paris, Château de Versailles. Château de Versailles also became the queen’s home, though presently it is an extravagant historical monument with an enormous garden found all over the internet and the interior part of the castle consisting of 2,300 rooms. One of its most distinguished room is Opéra Royal, used for exhibiting ballet recitals such as Preljocaj’s Gravity, classical concerts, and operas. Though Marie Antoinette lived a life of luxury, she was not happy and to add everything up she was also blamed for poverty in France. She was sent to prison by the people of France and died at the age of 37 by the guillotine.

Book tickets to Preljocaj's Gravity

garnier

Charles Garnier

Similar to Gustave Eiffel, Charles Garnier too was a talented architect and left behind along with his name the greatest landmark in the history of France. Charles Garnier designed and helped build Opera Garnier, or as most folks know it, the opera house where the eminent Phantom of the Opera is hidden. Opera Garnier was Garnier’s perfect achievement designed in a Beaux style. He has even left his mark in Monte Carlo, Monaco where he designed the popular Casino, Italian Villas in Bischoffsheim and the panorama in Théâtre Marigny here in Paris when it was being reconstructed in 1833. His designs were inspired by the Italian and French Renaissance elegance. Garnier might have passed away as one of the best architects in Paris, nowadays millions of people still visit Palais Garnier and are left astonished by its beauty inside and out.

Reserve tickets to a show in Opera Garnier

hugo

Victor Hugo

Internationally known for his novels Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), Victor Hugo was and still is a famous French poet and novelist from the romantic era. Most people aren’t aware that he was also a general in Napoleon’s army! There is a man who knew how to spend his time wisely. Like Charles Garnier, Victor Hugo too was set out to study law but later in life realized writing poems were his passion, he published his very first book of poems in 1821 when he was 19 years old and later in 1823, he published his first novel. If you know Paris well, then, of course, you know that there is a street in the city named after him. That lets you know how important he is to the people of this country. His poems and novels were a reflection of his social ideas, they were moving and caused a revolution. His novel about a man’s last day caused a controversy against the death penalty back in the day.

verlaine

Paul Verlaine (Rimbaud Verlaine)

A talented Parisian poet who had an audacious life filled with unexpected events. Paul Verlaine lived a life that was far from his time. During his time on earth he was judged for his actions, but today he is considered a rare writer who wrote deep poetry about different events from his life. His most beloved poems were written while he was imprisoned. The adventurous life of Verlaine became a play called Rimbaud Verlaine. Arthur Rimbaud was indeed his lover, another famed poet with incredible philosophies when it came to literature. Sadly, the affair led to the separation of Verlaine and his wife. After his death, Verlaine was buried in Batignolles cemetery here in Paris.

Book tickets for Rimbaud Verlaine

baker

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was not born in Paris, she was born in the United States in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906. Though she wasn’t French, she spent most of her life in Paris running away from discrimination in the United States. She was everything you could think about in a woman, intelligent, brave, and a skilled dancer. She gained fame in Paris as a can-cann dancer performing in Folies Bergére, she was remembered for one of her most viewed performances where she wore a short skirt decorated with bananas. The dance was named “The Banana Dance”. From here she landed herself a role in the famous 1934 film called Zou-Zou where and Princess Tam-Tam. During World War II Josephine worked in the red cross and worked for the French Resistance during the time where German Nazis were trying to take over France. She was a spy, she would conspicuously hide secret messages in order to uncover the Nazi’s plans. This won her the military’s most prestigious awards, the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour for her bravery. Josephine Baker also returned to the U.S. to participate in the march that supported Martin Luther King Jr’s idea of equal rights. She was not only a sexy cabaret dancer, but she was also so much more than that. You might find some of Baker’s dance moves within the choreography of some of today’s cabaret dancers in various cabaret clubs in Paris.

Reserve tickets to a Parisian Cabaret

Molière 

Another talented soul was Jean- Baptiste Poquelin, also known for his stage name, Molière. Born in Paris, France Molière was a French playwriter who dedicated his life to creating captivating plays consisting of comedy and drama. Til this day, his plays are still being exhibited in different playhouses in Paris such as The Misanthrope, The Miser, and Dom Juan. Molière wasn’t just a writer, he was also an actor in his own plays such as in The Misanthrope where he and his wife played the role of the main characters. Some facts people might not have known about Molière is the fact that he was imprisoned twice due to debts, He did not gain fame until 1658 at the age of 36 where he presented his work on an improvised stage place in the Louvre, and his complete work was not published until 10 years after his death.

Book tickets to Molière's The Misanthrope

Want more hidden secrets of Paris?

* indicates required
Welcome to Paris, tell us more about yourself
By signing up you agree to our Privacy Policy.