France in the Eurovision Song Contest

France has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 62 times since its debut at the first contest in 1956. France is one of only seven countries to be present at the first contest, and has been absent from only two contests in its history, missing the 1974 and 1982 contests. Along with Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, France is one of the "Big Five" who are automatically allowed to participate in the final because they are the five biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). France has won the contest five times.

Member stationFrance Télévisions (1993–present)
National selection events
Participation summary
First appearance1956
Best result1st: 1958, 1960, 1962, 1969, 1977
External links
French broadcaster page
France's page at
Song contest current event.png For the most recent participation see
France in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020

France first won the contest in 1958 with "Dors, mon amour" performed by André Claveau. Three more victories followed in the 1960s, with "Tom Pillibi" performed by Jacqueline Boyer in 1960, "Un Premier Amour" performed by Isabelle Aubret in 1962 and "Un jour, un enfant" performed by Frida Boccara, who won in 1969 in a four-way tie with the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. France's fifth victory came in 1977, when Marie Myriam won with the song "L'oiseau et l'enfant". France have also finished second four times, with Paule Desjardins (1957), Catherine Ferry (1976), Joëlle Ursull (1990) and Amina (1991), who lost out to Sweden's Carola in a tie-break.

After reaching the top five in 24 contests in the 20th century, France has had less success in the 21st century, only making the top five twice, with Natasha St-Pier fourth in 2001 and Sandrine François fifth in 2002. France finished last for the first time in 2014, when Twin Twin received only two points. France have failed to reach the top 10 in 15 of the last 17 contests, the exceptions being Patricia Kaas, who was eighth in 2009, and Amir, who was sixth in 2016.


Several French broadcasters have been used to present Eurovision in the country, formerly RTF (1956–64), ORTF (1965–74), TF1 (1975–81) and Antenne 2 (1983–92). Since 1993, France Télévisions has been responsible for France's participation in the contest, with the final being broadcast on France 2 (1993–98, 2015–present) and France 3 (1999–2014), and the semi-final which France votes in broadcast on France 4 (2005–10, 2016–present) and later France Ô (2011–15). The semi-final in 2004 was not broadcast. The viewers which were close enough to Monaco, were able to see the semi-final via TMC Monte-Carlo. Radio coverage has been provided, although not every year, by France Inter from 1971 to 1998 and since 2001, France Bleu (also 1976). In 1982, RTL Radio transmitted the contest due to the country's absence that year.

France has often changed the selection process used in order to find the country's entry for the contest, either a national final or internal selection (occasionally a combination of both formats) has been held by the broadcaster at the time.

Contest historyEdit

France is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision, winning the contest five times, coming second four times and coming third seven times. However, France has only hosted the Eurovision contest three times (1959,1961, 1978).[1] France was ranked first in number of victories (either alone or tied with other countries) without interruptions from 1960 to 1993. Moreover, Amina was close to victory with the song "Le Dernier qui a parlé..." in 1991, when she finished in joint first place (with the same number of points as Sweden). Therefore, the 'countback' rule applied, but both countries had an equal number of twelve points (four lots), but the victory went to Sweden, when France had fewer 10-point scores. Today, with the new rules, France would have won the competition, because they received points from more countries than Sweden. One year before, France was also close to winning with Joëlle Ursull performing Serge Gainsbourg's song "White and Black Blues". The song finished in equal second place with Ireland's entry.

However, in recent years, the French results have been somewhat disappointing. Since 1998, when the televoting was invented, France has almost always been in the bottom-10 countries in the final, coming 18th (2003 and 2008), 19th (1999), 22nd (2006, 2007 and 2012), 23rd (2000, 2005 and 2013), 24th (1998) and 25th (2015). France finished in last place, for the first time in their Eurovision history, in 2014 with only 2 points.

Yet, France have had some good results during the 21st century. In 2001, Canadian singer Natasha St-Pier came 4th for France with her song "Je n'ai que mon âme", being the favourite to win the contest by fans and odds. This good result was carried into the 2002 contest, when Sandrine François came 5th with "Il faut du temps" and received the Marcel Bezençon international press award for the best entry of that year. Finally, the positive experience with Sébastien Tellier in 2008 created considerable interest among the French show business for the contest, which resulted in the fact that Eurovision is seen now in the French media as a great advertising campaign and it has been decided that big names will represent France in the future. With these ambitions, the French superstar Patricia Kaas represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow, Russia. Kaas is one of the most successful French-speaking singers in the world and she has sold over 16 million records worldwide.[2] She ended in 8th place. Kaas received the Marcel Bezençon artistic award, which was voted on by previous winners and presented to the best artist. In the 2016 Contest in Stockholm, Sweden, Amir with his song, "J'ai cherché", ended in 6th place and broke a 40-year record by scoring the most points in France's Eurovision history, by scoring 257 points in the final. France did not have the opportunity to compete in Eurovision 2020 in Rotterdam because the contest was cancelled due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.[3]


Since their debut in 1956 France has only missed two contests, in 1974 and 1982. In 1974, after selecting a singer and song to represent them at the contest, France withdrew after the President of France Georges Pompidou died in the week of the contest.[4] If they had participated in the contest, France would have been represented by Dani with the song "La vie à vingt-cinq ans".

In November 1981, TF1 declined to enter the Eurovision Song Contest for 1982, with the head of entertainment, Pierre Bouteiller, saying, "The absence of talent and the mediocrity of the songs were where annoyance set in. Eurovision is a monument to inanity [sometimes translated as "drivel"]."[5] Antenne 2 took over the job due to public reaction of TF1's withdraw, hosting a national final to select their entry as well, from the 1983 contest.

France and the "Big Five"Edit

Since 1999, four particular countries have automatically qualified for the Eurovision final, regardless of their positions on the scoreboard in previous Contests.[6] They earned this special status by being the four biggest financial contributors to the EBU. These countries are the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain. Due to their untouchable status in the Contest, these countries became known as the "Big Four". Italy returned to the contest in 2011, thus becoming part of a "Big Five".[7][8]


Table key
Second place
Third place
Last place
Entry selected but did not compete
Year Artist Language Song Final Points Semi Points
Mathé Altéry French "Le temps perdu" 2[a] N/A No semi-finals
Dany Dauberson French "Il est là" 2[a]
Paule Desjardins French "La belle amour" 2 17
André Claveau French "Dors, mon amour" 1 27
Jean Philippe French "Oui, oui, oui, oui" 3 15
Jacqueline Boyer French "Tom Pillibi" 1 32
Jean-Paul Mauric French "Printemps, avril carillonne" 4 13
Isabelle Aubret French "Un premier amour" 1 26
Alain Barrière French "Elle était si jolie" 5 25
Rachel French "Le chant de Mallory" 4 14
Guy Mardel French "N'avoue jamais" 3 22
Dominique Walter French "Chez nous" 16 1
Noëlle Cordier French "Il doit faire beau là-bas" 3 20
Isabelle Aubret French "La source" 3 20
Frida Boccara French "Un jour, un enfant" 1 18
Guy Bonnet French "Marie-Blanche" 4 8
Serge Lama French "Un jardin sur la terre" 10 82
Betty Mars French "Comé-comédie" 11 81
Martine Clemenceau French "Sans toi" 15 65
Dani French "La vie à vingt-cinq ans" Withdrew X
Nicole Rieu French "Et bonjour à toi l'artiste" 4 91 No semi-finals
Catherine Ferry French "Un, deux, trois" 2 147
Marie Myriam French "L'oiseau et l'enfant" 1 136
Joël Prévost French "Il y aura toujours des violons" 3 119
Anne-Marie David French "Je suis l'enfant soleil" 3 106
Profil French "Hé, hé M'sieurs dames" 11 45
Jean Gabilou French "Humanahum" 3 125
Guy Bonnet French "Vivre" 8 56
Annick Thoumazeau French "Autant d'amoureux que d'étoiles" 8 61
Roger Bens French "Femme dans ses rêves aussi" 10 56
Cocktail Chic French "Européennes" 17 13
Christine Minier French "Les mots d'amour n'ont pas de dimanche" 14 44
Gérard Lenorman French "Chanteur de charme" 10 64
Nathalie Pâque French "J'ai volé la vie" 8 60
Joëlle Ursull French "White and Black Blues" 2 132
Amina French "C'est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison" 2 146
Kali French, Antillean Creole "Monté la riviè" 8 73
Patrick Fiori French, Corsican "Mama Corsica" 4 121 Kvalifikacija za Millstreet
Nina Morato French "Je suis un vrai garçon" 7 74 No semi-finals
Nathalie Santamaria French "Il me donne rendez-vous" 4 94
Dan Ar Braz & L'Héritage des Celtes Breton "Diwanit Bugale" 19 18 11 55
Fanny French "Sentiments songes" 7 95 No semi-finals
Marie Line French "Où aller" 24 3
Nayah French "Je veux donner ma voix" 19 14
Sofia Mestari French "On aura le ciel" 23 5
Natasha St-Pier French, English "Je n'ai que mon âme" 4 142
Sandrine François French "Il faut du temps" 5 104
Louisa Baïleche French "Monts et merveilles" 18 19
Jonatan Cerrada French, Spanish "À chaque pas" 15 40 Member of "Big 4"
Ortal French "Chacun pense à soi" 23 11
Virginie Pouchain French "Il était temps" 22 5
Les Fatals Picards French, English "L'amour à la française" 22 19
Sébastien Tellier English, French "Divine" 19 47
Patricia Kaas French "Et s'il fallait le faire" 8 107
Jessy Matador French "Allez Ola Olé" 12 82
Amaury Vassili Corsican "Sognu" 15 82 Member of "Big 5"
Anggun French, English "Echo (You and I)" 22 21
Amandine Bourgeois French "L'enfer et moi" 23 14
Twin Twin French "Moustache" 26 ◁ 2
Lisa Angell French "N'oubliez pas" 25 4
Amir French, English "J'ai cherché" 6 257
Alma French, English "Requiem" 12 135
Madame Monsieur French "Mercy" 13 173
Bilal Hassani French, English "Roi" 16 105
Tom Leeb French, English "Mon alliée" Contest cancelled[b] X


Year Location Venue Presenters
1959 Cannes Palais des Festivals Jacqueline Joubert
1978 Paris Palais des Congrès Denise Fabre and Léon Zitrone


Marcel Bezençon AwardsEdit

Year Category Song Composer(s)
lyrics (l) / music (m)
Performer Final Points Host city Ref.
2002 Press Award "Il faut du temps" Rick Allison (m), Patrick Bruel (m&l), Marie-Florence Gros (l) Sandrine François 5 104   Tallinn
2009 Artistic Award[c] "Et s'il fallait le faire" Anse Lazio, Fred Blondin Patricia Kaas 8 107   Moscow
2011 Composer Award "Sognu" Daniel Moyne (m), Quentin Bachelet (m),
Jean-Pierre Marcellesi (l), Julie Miller (l)
Amaury Vassili 15 82   Düsseldorf
2018 Press Award "Mercy" Émilie Satt (m&l), Jean-Karl Lucas (m&l) Madame Monsieur 13 173   Lisbon

Winner by OGAE membersEdit

Year Song Performer Final Points Host city Ref.
2016 "J'ai cherché" Amir 6 257   Stockholm

Related involvementEdit

Heads of delegationEdit

Year Head of delegation Ref.
20022012 Bruno Berberes
20132015 Frederic Valencak
20162018 Edoardo Grassi
2019 Steven Clerima
20202021 Alexandra Redde-Amiel

Commentators and spokespersonsEdit

Since their debut in 1956 French television have sent their best television presenters and entertainers including Pierre Tchernia, Léon Zitrone, Robert Beauvais, Olivier Minne, Michel Drucker, Patrick Sabatier and Laurent Boyer. Every year until 1979 Monaco shared the French commentary.

Year Commentator Spokesperson Ref.
Final Semi-final
1956 Michèle Rebel No semi-finals No spokesperson
1957 Robert Beauvais Claude Darget
1958 Pierre Tchernia Armand Lanoux
1959 Claude Darget Marianne Lecène
1960 Pierre Tchernia Armand Lanoux
1961 Robert Beauvais
1962 Pierre Tchernia André Valmy
1963 Armand Lanoux
1964 Robert Beauvais Jean-Claude Massoulier
1965 Pierre Tchernia
1966 François Deguelt
1967 Pierre Tchernia
1971 Georges de Caunes No spokesperson
1972 Pierre Tchernia
1974 Did not participate
1975 Georges de Caunes Marc Menant
1976 Jean-Claude Massoulier
1977 Georges de Caunes
1978 Léon Zitrone, Denise Fabre Patrice Laffont
1979 Marc Menant Fabienne Égal
1980 Patrick Sabatier
1981 Denise Fabre
1982 Andre Torrent Did not participate
1983 Léon Zitrone Nicole André
1985 Patrice Laffont Clémentine Célarié
1986 Patricia Lesieur
1987 Patrick Simpson-Jones Lionel Cassan
1988 Lionel Cassan Catherine Ceylac
1989 Marie-Ange Nardi
1990 Richard Adaridi Valérie Maurice
1991 Léon Zitrone Daniela Lumbroso
1992 Thierry Beccaro Olivier Minne
1993 Patrice Laffont
1994 Laurent Romejko
1995 Olivier Minne Thierry Beccaro
1996 Laurent Broomhead
1997 Frédéric Ferrer & Marie Myriam
1998 Chris Mayne, Laura Mayne Marie Myriam
1999 Julien Lepers
2001 Marc-Olivier Fogiel, Dave Corinne Hermès
2002 Marie Myriam
2003 Laurent Ruquier, Isabelle Mergault Sandrine François
2004 Laurent Ruquier, Elsa Fayer No broadcast Alex Taylor
2005 Julien Lepers, Guy Carlier Peggy Olmi Marie Myriam
2006 Michel Drucker, Claudy Siar Peggy Olmi, Eric Jean-Jean Sophie Jovillard
2007 Julien Lepers, Tex Peggy Olmi, Yann Renoard Vanessa Dolmen
2008 Julien Lepers, Jean-Paul Gaultier Cyril Hanouna
2009 Cyril Hanouna, Julien Courbet Yann Renoard
2010 Cyril Hanouna, Stéphane Bern Audrey Chauveau
2011 Laurent Boyer, Catherine Lara Audrey Chauveau, Bruno Berberes Cyril Féraud
2012 Cyril Féraud, Mireille Dumas Amaury Vassili
2013 Marine Vignes
2014 Cyril Féraud, Natasha St-Pier Elodie Suigo
2015 Stéphane Bern, Marianne James Mareva Galanter, Jérémy Parayre Virginie Guilhaume
2016 Marianne James, Jarry Élodie Gossuin
2017 Stéphane Bern, Marianne James, Amir
2018 Stéphane Bern, Christophe Willem, Alma Christophe Willem, André Manoukian
2019 Stéphane Bern, André Manoukian Sandy Héribert, André Manoukian Julia Molkhou


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b The full results for the first contest in 1956 are unknown, as only the winner was announced. The official Eurovision site lists all other songs as being placed second.
  2. ^ The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. ^ Voted by previous winners.


  1. ^ "History by Events". Eurovision Song Contest.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Eurovision 2020 in Rotterdam is cancelled". Eurovision Song Contest.
  4. ^ History - Eurovision Song Contest 1974
  5. ^ 1982 Eurovision source in French
  6. ^ O'Connor, John Kennedy (2005). The Eurovision Song Contest 50 Years The Official History. London: Carlton Books Limited. ISBN 1-84442-586-X.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2009-05-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Fulton, Rick (2007-05-14). "The East V West Song Contest". Daily Record. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  9. ^ "Marcel Bezençon Awards". Archived from the original on 16 July 2019. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  10. ^ Klier, Marcus (18 May 2009). "The Eurovision 2009 Marcel Bezençon Awards". Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  11. ^ "Winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards". 16 May 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Here are the winners of the Marcel Bezençon Awards 2018!". 12 May 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  13. ^ Cobb, Ryan (21 April 2017). "Analysing ten years of OGAE voting: "Underneath the fan favourite bias is a worthwhile indicator"". Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  14. ^ Jordan, Paul (28 January 2018). "Find out who is on Germany's global team for Eurovision 2018". Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  15. ^ Granger, Anthony (24 September 2019). "France: Edoardo Grassi new Head of Delegation". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  16. ^ a b Farren, Neil (4 October 2018). "France: Steven Clerima Revealed as New Head of Delegation". Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  17. ^ Farren, Neil (6 December 2019). "France: Steven Clerima Steps Down as Head of Delegation".
  18. ^ Jiandani, Sanjay (22 June 2020). "France: France 2 confirms participation at ESC 2O21 with national final". ESCToday. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  19. ^ "FRANCE 2019 : Stéphane Bern, André Manoukian et Sandy Héribert aux commentaires". (in French). 20 March 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  20. ^ Herbert, Emily (26 April 2019). "France: Julia Molkhou Revealed as Eurovision 2019 Spokesperson". Retrieved 6 December 2019.