The French are said to be the most romantic folk around and, apparently, also excellent lovers. I mention this because if you are looking into marrying someone for their money, France is the place to start.
Join us as we count down the 10 richest people in France, otherwise known as 10 excellent potential suitors for you.
10. Carrie Perrodo
Who Is She? Carrie Perrodo was born Ka Yee Yong in Singapore, where she met French entrepreneur Hubert Perrodo and married soon after. Hubert went on to found the independent oil and gas company Perenco, which is involved in onshore and offshore operations in Australia, Congo, Peru, Turkey and Venezuela, among others. He tragically died in a 2006 hiking accident in the French Alps and his fortune was split between Carrie and their three children: Francois, Nathalie and Bertrand.
How Much Is She Worth? $6.3 billion (£4.86 billion)
Fun Fact: Perrodo is, unsurprisingly, a former model. Before moving to France, she even ran her own modelling agency in her native Singapore called Carrie’s Models.
9. Xavier Niel
Who Is He? Niel is a technology entrepreneur and founder of Iliad, an internet service provider and mobile operator. It is the parent company of Free Mobile which is France’s fourth largest mobile operator. Niel started his career at the age of 19, when he started – and subsequently sold – a Minitel service company which provided sex-oriented chat services. He is also a co-owner of the newspaper Le Monde and the sole owner of Monaco Telecom, the main telecommunications provider in Monaco which he bought a 55 per cent stake in for a reported $445 million (£343.8 million).
How Much Is He Worth? $8.1 billion (£6.25 billion)
Fun Fact: Niel is the co-owner of the rights to the Frank Sinatra song ‘My Way’, which he purchased in 2009.
8. Emmanuel Besnier
Who Is He? Besnier, 46, is the youngest billionaire on the list. He and his brother Jean-Michel and sister Marie are heirs to Lactalis, the largest dairy products group in the world and second largest food products group in France. Besnier graduated from the ISG Business School in Paris and, in 1995, was appointed Director of Development of the family company. Following the death of his father in 2000, he took over as CEO.
How Much Is He Worth? $11.3 billion (£8.73 billion)
Fun Fact: Besnier is known as ‘the invisible billionaire’ as shuns publicity, so much so that only a handful of photos of him exist.
7. Gerard Wertheimer
Who Is He? Along with his older brother Alain, Gerard Weirtheimer is the co-owner of French luxury brand House of Chanel, which is known for the ‘little black dress’, the Chanel No 5 perfume and the Chanel Suit. They inherited the company from their grandfather Pierre who partnered with Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, better known as Coco Chanel, in the late 1920s to form Parfums Chanel of which he owned 70 per cent.
How Much Is He Worth? $11.8 billion (£9.11 billion)
Fun Fact: Wertheimer and his brother are both enthusiastic equestrians and are the owners of a thoroughbred horse racing business which they also inherited from their father. Their horses have won races at the French Derby as well as the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the US.
6. Alain Wertheimer
Who Is He? Alain Wertheimer owns Chanel with his younger brother Gerard. He assumed control of the company in 1974 and was responsible for turning Chanel No 5’s dwindling sales around by removing the fragrance from drugstore shelves in order to provide it with a greater sense of scarcity and exclusivity. Coupled with the fragrance’s endorsement by stars like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, No 5 became ‘olfactory heritage’ (as proclaimed on the company website). Wertheimer and his brother, meanwhile, are both oenophiles and own several vineyards in France and the US.
How Much Is He Worth? $11.8 billion (£9.11 billion)
Fun Fact: It was Wertheimer who persuaded German fashion designer Karl Lagerfield to end his contract with French fashion house Chloé and join Chanel in 1983. Lagerfield has since become the public face of Chanel.
5. Patrick Drahi
Who Is He? Drahi is the founder of Altice, a Netherlands-based multinational telecommunications company and the second-largest telecoms company in France behind Orange. He was born in Morocco to Jewish parents and moved to France when he was 15 years old where he went on to obtain an engineering degree from the École Polytechnique in Paris. He is also the owner of i24news, an Israeli 24-hours news and current affairs TV channel.
How Much Is He Worth? $13 billion ($10.04 billion)
Fun Fact: He holds both French and Israeli citizenship, and lives in Switzerland.
4. François Pinault
Who Is He? A high school dropout, Pinault is the founder of Kering (previously PPR), a French luxury goods holding company which he founded in 1963. Kering’s portfolio includes top brands like Alexander McQueen, Gucci and Saint Laurent Paris, while Pinault purchased a majority share of Christie’s auction house in 1998. His son François-Henri is married to Academy Award-nominated actress Salma Hayek.
How Much Is He Worth? $15.7 billion (£12.13 billion)
Fun Fact: Pinault owns one of the largest collections of contemporary art worldwide, estimated at some 3,000 pieces. He plans to open a private museum in Paris in 2018 to display his collection which includes works by Damian Hirst and Pablo Picasso.
3. Serge Dassault
Who Is He? Serge Dassault is the son of Marcel, the founder of the Dassault Group, which he inherited after his father’s death in 1986. The group has many subsidiaries, including Dassault Aviation (an aircraft manufacturer of military, regional and business jets) and Le Figaro Group (a multimedia publisher whose publications include France’s oldest national daily newspaper Le Figaro).
How Much Is He Worth? $16.1 billion (£12.43 billion)
Fun Fact: Dassault is a member of the Union for a Popular Movement political party. He became a senator in 2004 and, responding to Ayrault government's plan to legalise gay marriage, controversially said: ‘We'll have a country of homosexuals. And so in 10 years there'll be nobody left. It's stupid’.
2. Lilian Bettencourt
Who Is She? Liliane Bettencourt is the oldest person to appear on this list. She also happens to be the wealthiest woman in France – and the world. Born in 1922, the 94-year-old is one of the principal shareholders of L’Oréal, a French cosmetics company she inherited from her father Eugène Schueller.
How Much Is She Worth? $39.5 billion (£30.51 billion)
Fun Fact: Together with her late husband André and their daughter Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Betterncourt founded the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation in 1987. The Foundation benefits from assets of €150 million (£128.5 million) with an annual budget of €15 million (£12.8 million) and devotes 55 per cent of its funds to scientific education and research, 33 per cent to humanitarian and social projects and 12 per cent to culture and arts.
1. Bernard Arnault
Who Is He? Arnault is the chairman and CEO of LVMH, a multinational luxury goods conglomerate which was formed in the merger of fashion house Louis Vuitton with Moët Hennessy (itself a company formed with the merger of champagne producer Moët & Chandon and cognac producer Hennessy). He graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1971 with an engineering degree, and is currently the richest person in France and 11th in the world.
How Much Is He Worth? $41.5 billion (£32.05 billion)
Fun Fact: Like Pinault, Arnault is a noted art collector. His contemporary art collection includes works by Picasso, Yves Klein and Andy Warhol.
Can you believe how much money these people have? Collectively, they’re worth $175.1 billion (£135.2 billion), which is, naturally, a lot more money than all the readers of this article will ever see combined! That is, of course, unless one of us does marry one of these 10 richest individuals in France. I’m joking, obviously – or am I? Alternatively, you might want to consider one of the 10 jobs likely to make you a billionaire.
Do you have anything you’d like to add? Join the conversation below and let us know!
Individual fortunes are based on data compiled and published by Forbes. US Dollar-Sterling Pound and Euro-Stirling Pound conversions are based on rates from 17 May 2017.
This article was originally published in March 2015.