Photo: via Wikimedia

Culture The Best French Authors  

Ranker Books
3.5k votes 547 voters 9.9k views

List Rules Top French writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and plays

A list of the best French authors that have provided works of nonfiction, poetry, and fiction that have become classics. Authors such as Victor Hugo, Albert Camus, and Alexandre Dumas may be familiar names of French authors that are added to the list, along with others that may not be as best-selling. This list of French writers includes playwrights and philosophers 

This list will answer the question, "who are the best French authors?" Whether someone is looking for classic writers, more contemporary writers, poets or a new author to add to their reading list, this is a perfect place to start.

The list is changed based on the ranking from voters, and since it does not include all French authors ever, you can add any that are missing.
Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page. Prices & inventory are accurate as of publish date.
list ordered by

1
142 45
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best French Authors
Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

2
117 43
Honoré de Balzac is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best French Authors
Le Père Goriot, Eugénie Grandet, Cousin Bette

3
105 38
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best French Authors
The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers

4
141 62
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best French Authors
The Plague, The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus

5
78 24
Molière is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best French Authors
Tartuffe, The Miser

6
81 26
Gustave Flaubert is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best French Authors
Madame Bovary

7
71 20
Émile Zola is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best French Authors
Nana, Germinal, Thérèse Raquin

8
91 33
Charles Baudelaire is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best French Authors
Les Fleurs du Mal, Le Spleen de Paris

9
101 41
Marcel Proust is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best French Authors
In Search of Lost Time

10
62 18
Guy de Maupassant is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best French Authors
Bel Ami, Une vie, Pierre et Jean

11
97 41
Jules Verne is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best French Authors
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, A Journey to the Center of the Earth

12
117 56
Louis-Ferdinand Céline is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best French Authors
Jean-marieGerard added Journey to the End of the Night, Death on Credit, Œuvres de Louis Ferdinand Céline

13
60 20
Arthur Rimbaud is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best French Authors
Illuminations

14
86 39
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best French Authors
Candide

15
48 13
René Descartes is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best French Authors
nietzschescode added Meditations on First Philosophy, Discourse on the Method, Rules for the Direction of the Mind

16
66 26
Stendhal is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best French Authors
The Red and the Black, The Charterhouse of Parma, Spicy food

17
56 21
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best French Authors
The Little Prince

18
39 12
André Gide is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best French Authors
The Counterfeiters, The Imoralist

19
32 7
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best French Authors
Phèdre, Alexandre le Grand, Les Plaideurs

20
44 17
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best French Authors
Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus

21
67 35
Michel Houellebecq is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best French Authors
Platform, Whatever, H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World

22
26 6
François Villon is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best French Authors
Mollevangsvagen added Œuvres, Die lasterhaften Balladen und Lieder, Le grant testament Villon et le petit Son codicille. Le jargon. Les balades

23
22 5
François-René de Chateaubriand is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best French Authors
Mollevangsvagen added Atala*, Travels in Greece, Palestine

24
7 0
Stéphane Mallarmé is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best French Authors
ΙωάννηςΠαπαδόπουλος added Poésies, Nachmittagstraum eines Fauns, Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard

25
21 5
Jean Raspail is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best French Authors
Mollevangsvagen added The Camp of the Saints, L' anneau du pécheur, Qui se souvient des hommes ...