Happy Bastille Day, and vive la France! Many of us use this revolutionary holiday as an excuse to celebrate all things French — which is to say, we drink lots of wine. But sometimes we need some eye candy to go with our drinks. So, while we’re paying tribute to our refined European friends, we present to you 10 sexy French guys who have made legitimate cultural contributions — because we could all stand to learn something while we ogle.
Writer: J.M.G. Le Clézio The United States finally caught on to Le Clézio in 2008, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. But he’s long been among France’s most respected literary figures, with over 40 books under his belt. After starting out in the ’60s as a brash, young, postmodern experimentalist, he transitioned to a more straightforward, inviting style. And back in his 20s, with features like those, Le Clézio could have been a model.Check out:
Director: Michel Gondry We once sat next to Gondry in a cafe on New York’s Lower East Side, and the curly-headed visionary may have been even more adorable in person. After creating gorgeous music videos for everyone from Björk to Daft Punk to The White Stripes, he graduated to making fantastical, intricately designed features.Check out:Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind , Block Party
Chef: Eric Ripert Is there anything dreamier than a good-looking man who knows his way around a four-star kitchen? We think not. The Le Bernardin chef/co-owner has been at the top of his game for over 20 years — and looks no worse the wear for it. We certainly don’t mind seeing his distinguished silver hair every week on Top Chef, where he recently became a regular judge.Check out:
Painter: Yves Klein Klein died tragically young in 1962, at age 34. But the singular artist, who also branched out into sculpture, photomontage, installation work, and music, managed during his short life to help bridge the gap between the modernist and postmodernist movements. He also looked kind of like Chuck Bass…Check out:Anthropometries, The Void
Fashion Designer: Nicolas Ghesquière If you haven’t seen the face behind Balenciaga’s luxurious gowns, have we got a treat for you. The brand’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière is a classic French looker, a little bit preppy with some sexy five o’ clock shadow. He was also something of a prodigy: Ghesquière has been working in fashion since he was 14 and took the reins at Balenciaga only slightly more than a decade later.
Image via LoreniaMusician: Thomas Mars There’s a long-running myth that France is incapable of producing a great rock band — a myth that Thomas Mars and his pals in Phoenix have totally shattered. We adore his shaggy good looks and infallible sense of melody. We also can’t get over what an adorable couple he and his baby mama, Sofia Coppola, make.Check out: “Lisztomania,” “Run Run Run”
Actor: Jean-Pierre Leaud France has never lacked for good-looking leading men. But perhaps our favorite — and a true classic — is Truffaut alter ego Jean-Pierre Leaud, who portrayed Antoine Doinel in four films featuring the character over two decades. The quintessential French actor went on to star in movies by a slew of New Wave directors. And at 66 years old, he’s still working.Check out:The 400 Blows , The Mother and the Whore , Last Tango in Paris , Irma Vep
Athlete: Tony Ramoin The obvious choice here would be someone from the French World Cup team. Let’s be honest with ourselves, though: Is anyone satisfied with their “cultural contribution” after their bratty, disastrous showing at this year’s competition. So our cradle-robbing pick is Ramoin, the 21-year-old snowboard cross competitor who took home a Bronze medal several months ago in the Vancouver Olympics.
Philosopher: Jacques Derrida The ultimate rebel with a cause and the father of deconstruction, Derrida’s contributions to philosophy are immeasurable. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t nice to look at, with that wild white hair and those intense, piercing eyes.Check out:
Photographer: Henri Cartier-Bresson Photojournalists can thank this fine Frenchman for their careers. Although he spent much more of his life behind the camera than in front of it, we might have mistaken Cartier-Bresson in his prime for a mid-century cinema idol.Check out:
, the catalog from a recent MoMA retrospective