5 Amazing French Women Who Helped Change History

Bonjour !

We have Jeanne d’Arc (or Joan of Arc), Marie Curie, and a few other famous women who have helped shape the French history. Great scientists, influent thinkers, talented artists or fierce war leaders, they left us their timeless legacy.

Let me tell you the story of a few of these amazing figures and how they made their mark.

Et toi ?
Have you heard about these people?
Which other famous French women do you know of?
Who are the most amazing women from your country’s history?

Bonne journée,


Join the conversation!

  • I am going to marry French man. Does it make me French? Marie Skłodowska-Curie was Polish for God’s sake and stop saying this crap. If you knew Polish history and the family that she came from, you would understand how very Polish she was.

  • L’auteur Marguerite Yourcenar, qui a ecrit “Mémoires d’Hadrien” (quel livre !) Elle fut la première femme élue à l’Academie française.

  • Very often, on meeting French people, and discovering that I’m British they blame me for Joan of Arc – Big Peas & Jelly!
    I would have added Brigitte Bardot to your list ( as a 15 year old boy I was madly in love with her!) however now that she admires the FN & supports one of France’s terrible Women Marine Le Penn, I’m glad you didn’t include her!

  • Excellent video! We went to Rouen when we were in France in October. The Joan of Arc museum was very well done and very moving. She is definitely a heroine. It was appauling how they could put such a holy person to death. She was innocent. I am so glad she was declared righteous later, but it is very sad that she was taken from this earth at such a young age. So brave.

  • Love your videos.
    But I wish that this type of video you could do in french with english subtitles.

  • We named a School House ‘Curie’ at a school in Surrey in the UK, as she was a giant in her field- the theme. I believe she is the only woman interred at Le Panthéon?
    I have visited Rouen many times and Jeanne d’Arc is fascinating. Makes me embarrassed to be English though…
    I am currently reading a biography of Edith Piaf and adore her music- such powerful lyrics. I have visited her grave at Père Lachaise.
    France has a proud history of amazing women who have been born there or chosen to live there and exuded the Joie de vivré.

    Great post Geraldine. Bravo!

  • En Grande Bretagne, parmi les femmes celebres on peut noter :

    Octavia Hill qui a aidé les pauvres dans le herbergement social et qui a developpé le National Trust, un societé qui protege les maisons historiques et importantes.

    Emmeline Pankhurst
    Une activiste politique qui a aide dans le lutte pour le vote pour les femmes

    Margaret Thatcher

    Le première Première ministère femme en Royaume Uni

    Florence Nightingale

    Celebre pour sa travail dans le monde infirmiere

    Elizabeth Fry

    Connu pour sa réforme des prisons pour les faire plus humaines.

  • Pour moi, je pensé que n’importe d’où soient les héroïnes,célèbres, des artistes et des pioniers dan leurs domaines, la cosa important est qu’elles nous ont montré un exemple pour nous de savoir que tout peut être realisé avec l’effort et la determination.
    Elles sont formidables….et nous aussi ????

  • Merci Géraldine for this fabulous episode … so many French women who I have admired hugely since I was very young [all of those you mentioned] … others I have read include Colette and Françoise Sagan … through their writing/stories and their experience/s they have been great role models for me and have very much helped to shape my attitudes and values. Some extra-ordinary Australian women include: Caroline Chisholm, Alice Kitchen [a WWI nurse in France and on the Turkish Peninsula], Vivian Bullwinkel, Nancy Wake and Quentin Bryce, among a host of others. These are all wonderful, inspiring stories for girls and women everywhere. ????

  • Salut Geraldine!
    Merci, c’est le sujet tres interessant pour notre TV 🙂
    J’ai deja entendu des choses sur les premieres quatres femmes grace a l’ecole secondaire (physique, chimie – Marie Curie, histoire – Jeanne d’Arc) et musicale (George Sand et son affaire avec Chopin), Simone de Beauvoir aussi mais pas at first hand, c’est ma soeur qui a lu son oeuvre et m’en a parle. Cependant, j’ai entende rien de Louise Michel. Les autres femmes celebres francais que j’ai souvenues sont une chanteuse Pauline Viardot et son affaire avec un ecrivain russe Tourgaenev, Mireille Mathieu, Audrey Tautou, Coco Chanel, Marion Cotillard, Milene Farmer, Juliette Binoche.
    Les femmes celebres ukraniennes sont Lesya Ukraїnka (Larissa Kossatch), Olga Kobylianska, Marko Vovtchok (Mariya Vilinska), Olena Teliga, Lina Kostenko – les ecrivaines, Katerina Bilokour, Mariya Primatchenko – les peintres, Solomiya Krouchelnitska, Klavdia Chulzhenko, Nina Matvienko, Ruslana Lyzhitchko, Jamala – les chanteuses, Ada Rogovtseva, Lyudmila Gurtchenko – les actrices.
    I wonder if in France you remember the princess Anne Yaroslavna from the Kyiv Rus, 11th century who married the French prince. She brought the Holy Scripture to France and since then all the French kings made their vows with their hand on this holy book.
    Bisous, Veronique

      • J ‘ai curiosité) I wonder if in France you learn on history class about the princess Anne Yaroslavna from the Kyiv Rus, 11th century who married the French prince. She brought the Holy Scripture to France and since then all the French kings made their vows with their hand on this holy book.

  • Inspirational !
    Loads here for us to think about and look
    into ..
    Jeanne d’Arc d’Orléans .. heroine. How could
    the English treat a nineteen year old girl so
    badly ? They absolutely deserved to be booted
    out of France !
    I’ve recently started to read Un Cri dans le
    Silence by Brigitte Bardot. In it she expresses
    her thoughts on modern France and the
    world around her. Her strong opinions are
    worth thinking about ..
    And on a humourous note –
    Marie Curie was good friends with
    Albert Einstein. He once took her sailing
    in his boat on a lake in Geneva. Apparently,
    they went a long way out and she said to him,
    “I didn’t know you were a good sailor” to which
    he replied “neither did I”. She then said to him,
    “What if the boat overturns ? I can’t swim.” And
    he said “Neither can I.”
    It isn’t very scientific, but it is funny 🙂

    A fabulous lesson Géraldine ..
    thanks so much

  • Maria Curie-Skłodowska was Polish. You should have rather said: “She was born in Poland, she was Polish. Then she married Pierre Curie and she became a French citizen.” I always ask my French friends if they know that Maria Curie-Skłodowska was actually Polish ;).

  • Maria Curii Sklodowska was Polish not French. She just married French man. I’m a USA citizen married to an Irish man but I’m Polish not only because I decided to keep my name (my husband’s name is Pauls ). I enjoy your lessons a lot , thanks ????

  • Bonjour Géraldine,
    j’ai beaucoup aimé ce vidéo , une très bonne idée.
    En France vous en avez nombreuses, Françoise Sagan, Françoise Hardy, Simone Veil. Edith Piaf .Nous en Grande Bretagne, Margaret Thatcher , Marie Reine d’Ecosse, Florence Nightingale et Princess Diana !

  • Bonjour Géraldine,
    Je m’intéresse énormément a l’histoire des femmes de couleur (en anglais: women of color). J’aimerais bien me renseigner sur les contributions des femmes noires, musulmanes ou magrébines à la culture française. Par exemple, Joséphine Baker est devenue citoyenne française et elle a reçu la croix de guerre en France après la deuxième guerre mondiale.

  • Oui, oui – Marie Curie s’appelait Skłodowska 🙂 Elle est également très célèbre chez nous, et souvent mentionnée à l’école polonaise. Moi, j’ai suivi une formation en sciences humaines et j’ai peur de chimie ou physique – c’est pourquoi j’ai toujours admiré Marie Curie-Skłodowska… 🙂

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