If you pay any attention to the news you know the last year has been big for women. Our
voices seem louder than ever and our achievements ever greater. But women making waves
in history is nothing new. Lancôme knows this as we celebrate women every day! Not just
our beauty and creativity, but everything that comes our way in the pursuit of happiness. So in
that spirit, I thought Women’s Day this March 8th would be a great opportunity to shine a light
on some of the most amazing women in the history of France. While you may know names like
Bardot and Deneuve from the movies, there are many more French women who are household
names for achievements far and wide. Here are a few worth knowing…
Marie Curie — Glass ceilings are something scientist Marie Curie became accustomed to
breaking. As a pioneer of radioactivity, she was the first women to win a Nobel Prize, and the
first person ever to win one twice! For her extraordinary achievements in science which are still
paramount today, she became the first woman buried in the Panthéon on her own merits.
Simone Veil — After surviving the holocaust at Auschwitz as a child, Simone Veil developed an
humanist view of the world she would bring to her political achievements. As a lawyer, then
Minister of Health, and eventual President of the European Parliament, she is one the most
prominent feminists of all time. She fought for the rights of women, the poor, and the
handicapped until her death last year when she became the second woman to be buried in the
Panthéon on her own merits for her extraordinary contributions to France.
George Sand — Famous French author and journalist, George Sand, was indeed a woman
writing under a man’s pseudonym. She was one of the first women to break through gender
roles in dress, manners, and more, leading an unapologetically provocative private life which
inspired her prolific achievements in literature, as did her frequent travels. She went on to
become a prominent advocate for women’s rights and the poor, which many believe should
have earned her a place in the Panthéon.
Simone de Beauvoir — This Simone was also a groundbreaking feminist intellectual, writer,
and philosopher. Her book The Second Sex detailed women’s oppression of the time and went
on to become foundational to modern feminism, challenging society to adopt more fluid
definitions of gender and a woman’s right to live an unconventional life not limited to domestic
Bonus fact! The first woman to be buried in the Panthéon is actually Sophie Berthelot, wife of
scientist and politician Marcellin Berthelot. The couple passed away of natural causes the very
same night in their sleep. Along with the request of the couple not to be separated in death, it
was decided that Sophie should be buried next her husband in the Panthéon.
Happy Women’s Day to the women of France, the United States, and beyond!