50 French tattoo ideas, symbols, & quotes for men and women

French tattoos: french pigeon with Eiffel tower

When it comes to French tattoos, you’ll never be short of ideas! Here are 50 fabulous French-themed tattoos to get your juices flowing, including 25 French symbols and imagery and 25 French quotes and phrases with their meanings.

Tattoos that make you think of France

When you think of France, what comes to mind? 

The Eiffel tower? A French baguette? Perhaps something less obvious like a sprig of lavender, a French quote or phrase?

Sylvain Helaine: Freaky hoody: Most tattooed man in France
Photo source: freakyhoody

Chances are, you wouldn’t think of someone who looks like Sylvain Helaine, aka Freaky Hoodythe most tattooed man in France and former French kindergarten teacher. 

His entire body is covered in tattoos from head to toe, including his palms, the bottom of his feet, tongue, gums, and even his eyeballs are surgically inked black. 

Sylvain lost his job teaching kindergarten at the Docteur Morere Elementary School in Palaiseau, a suburb of Paris, because “some” parents complained that he scared the children.

Oh well, c’est la vie.

You don’t have to tattoo your entire body like Sylvain, but if you’re interested in getting a tattoo inspired by France and French culture, here are 50 ideas for you. 

French Map tattoos

1. Map of France Tattoo

French tattoos: French map tattoo

Photo source: nicklesg

A cartographer’s dream tattoo if (s)he loved France. A tattoo of a map of France is not only a fun way to show your love for the country but also your wanderlust heart. It’s not overly obvious like the Eiffel tower’s tattoo– most non-Europeans might not even recognize the famous hexagon shape, which all Children in France learn at a very young age. But that’s OK because it’s a great conversation starter.

2. French Flag Tattoo

French Flag Tattoo

Photo source: j_ed3n_art79

Tattoo of the French flag on a man's leg

A tattoo of the French flag is perfect for anyone with French ancestry who wants to show off their patriotism or for Francophiles who love everything French. It’s one of the most recognizable flags in the world, so no one will have to guess its meaning. The number of different flag designs to make your ink look unique are endless. Here are a few ideas. I especially like the French flag on the lips. Get it, French kiss

French flag tattoo ideas

French-inspired bird tattoos

3. Swallow tattoo

French inspired sparrow tattoo photo source unknown

Swallow tattoos were initially made popular by British sailors of the past. French fashion designer Coco Chanel incorporated it in her designs, making it a chic fashion symbol.

coco chanel sparrow tattoo

Coco Chanel  swallow necklace Tattoo Photo unknown

French Perfume Tattoo

4. Chanel N5 tattoo

French inspired Coco Chanel no 5 perfume tattoo

photo source of Chanel no 5 tattoos via Nyki Bell

Chanel No 5, Guerlain Shalimar, Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne- are just some of the classical French Perfumes that have long been synonymous with wealth, class and, of course, elegance! A tattoo of your favourite French perfume or even a generic photo of a perfume bottle is a classy way to elevate your tattoo style.

French plant and flower tattoos

5. French Lavender Sprig Tattoo

lavendar tattoo

Photo source: nothingwildtattoo

Provence France is known for many things, but the most recognizable might be the colour, the texture and the scent of its world-famous lavender fields.

6. Lily Of The Valley Flower Tattoo: “Muguet.”

lilly-of-the-valley-flower

Photo source: leehumphs_tattooer

The Lily of the Valley, known as “Muguet” in France, has a very special place in French culture.

On May 1st, for la Fête du Muguet, it’s customary to offer a sprig, bouquet or potted Lily of the Valley plant to friends and loved ones to wish them happiness, luck and prosperity in celebration of the arrival of spring.

Watch out, Lily of the valley is poisonous if ingested, even the water in the vase.

You should read more about the French custom of giving lily of the valley flowers (Muguet):

7. French Fleur De Lis Tattoo

Fleur de Lis means "flower of the lily" French tattoo ideas

photo source: lyxy666

Fleur de Lis means “flower of the lily” and is a lily composed of three petals bound together near their bases. French monarchs first used this classical French emblem on their shields. English kings later used the symbol on their coat of arms to emphasize their claims to France’s throne. It’s also on the official flag of the Canadian province of Quebec, which is called Fleurdelisé (with the fleur-de-lis.)

French animal tattoos

8. French coq tattoo aka Gallic Rooster tattoo

Classic French rooster tattoo coq gaulois- gallic rooster tattoo

Coq tattoo photo source via David Hale

“Le Coq Gaulois” or the “Gallic rooster” is one of France’s most widely recognized and identifiable symbols. It has been used intermittently since medieval times on French engravings and coins and has become the hallmark of French country design. French brands that incorporate the coq in their logo include sports brand giant “Le Coq Sportif” and “Pathé” cinemas in France.

9. French Poodle tattoo

french poodle tattoo

photo source: daisybelletheheadtiltingpoodle

Despite its name, French poodles are technically not a French breed; however, the French were responsible for helping develop the breed and boost their popularity, which may be why most people associate them with France.

10. French Bull Dog tattoo

French bull dog tattoo

photo source: skinnysinktattoo

French bulldog tattoo on ankle

If you love Frenchies, there’s nothing cuter than a French bulldog tattoo “Bouledogue.”  

French art tattoos

11. French painting tattoo

Edgar Degas tattoo of ballerina

French painting tattoo: recreation of painter Edgar degas ballerinas Edgar Dégas ballerina tattoo photo source via Angie Leaf

If you’re into French art from Famous French painters like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, there are thousands of tattoo ideas out there waiting to be discovered. Just crack open an art book for inspiration.

Be sure to look for a tattoo artist who has the artistic ability to recreate the French work of art.

12. Tattoos of famous cartoons and comics in France

Tattoos of famous cartoons in France

Asterix tattoo photo source from LTW tattoo studio

If you’re into comics and cartoons, you have quite a few to choose from.

There’s Astérix et Obelix, Les Aventures de Tintin, Lucky Luke and Les Daltons, to name a few.

Although many classic French cartoons are from Belgium cartoonists, they are extremely popular in France and recognizable by all French people.

I bet you didn’t know that the Smurfs was also a Belgium creation by the Belgian cartoonist Peyou. They’re called “Les Schtroumpfs” in French.

Did you know there is a French amusement park near Paris called Parc Astérix based on the French language comic book.

French Landmarks and Tourist Attractions

France is filled with famous buildings and beautiful structure.

All good tattoo artists should be able to draw any of these French monuments onto your body in any style and size of your choosing.

13. Paris city skyline tattoo

Home is where your ink is. If your love for Paris goes beyond any one thing or you can’t get enough of Paris, then a Paris skyline tattoo is a straightforward way to say it.

Paris city skyline tattoo

Paris city skyline tattoo photo source via Tatto.com

14. Eiffel Tower tattoo

If you love Paris, what about a tattoo of the Eiffel tower, one of the most recognizable monuments in the world. 

The style, design and even color combinations are endless.

Eiffel tower wrist tattoo

Eiffel tower wrist tattoo photo source via Travel Each Day

Eiffel tower thigh tattoo

photo source: lamarink

15. Notre Dame church tattoo

Notre Damne Church tattoo on chestphoto source: Black Ink Story

Tattoos for budding French chefs

Forget the stuffy clean-cut image you have of French chefs. Yes, they exist, but there’s a new breed of tattoo-wearing chefs these days.

Tattoos have become a sort of status symbol amongst professional French chefs . Just take a look at the famous French chef Ludo Lefebre who is covered in meaningful tattoos- like little badges of memory.

16. Butchers cut tattoo:

A quaint way to express your inner chef is an antique-looking butcher cut tattoo.

Take your pick, beef, chicken or pork.

Classic beef cut tattoo idea like the great French chefs

photo source of beef cut tattoo: Juanita Mac Photographer

diagram of pork cuts tattoo

photo source: tattoosalonen

17. Chef Knife

chef knife tattoo

photo source: summerfaith96

A chef knife is the perfect tattoo for home chefs and professional chefs with mad chopping skills.

Take it a step further with French cooking term such as “Mise en place”- which means “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” It’s the preparation of dishes and ingredients before the beginning of service.

French food and wine tattoos

From famous French dishes, to French wine and  stinky French cheese, the possibilities are endless for you French foodies when it comes to French cuisine inspired ink tattoos.

18. French macarons

French macaron tattoo

photo source: Raptorazor

The French macaron, not to be confused with a coconut macaroon, are sweet meringue-based confections that come in a rainbow of colours which always matches the ffilling.

Get a tattoo in every flavour and in full colour to show your love of French confectionery.

Brown ones are usually chocolate or coffee, red ones are strawberry, blue ones are blueberry.

19. Red Wine or Champagne tattoo

red wine glass tattoo idea

photo source unknown

No explanation is needed here. The French consume more wine per capita than any other nation of people- possible designs are endless.

Have a favorite bottle of wine or champagne? Dom Perignon, veuve clicquot, Tattinger?

20. Tattoo of a Croissant

croissant tattoo on leg

croissant umbrella tattoo

photo source: danetattoo

21. French baguette tattoo

French baguette tattoo

Photo source: bitchinkworldwide

22. French Cheese tattoo

French cheese tattoo

Photo source: jadee.ellen

wine and cheese tattoo

The French produce hundreds of different types of cheese. Pick one- anyone for your next tattoo.

Don’t forget stinky French cheese

23. Escargot tattoo (snails) YUMMY!

escargot snail tattoo idea

photo source: bradywillmott

When it comes to French cliches, escargot (edible snails) should be at the top of the list along with the French better and stopped shirts. 

See also: Weird French foods

Tattoos of French Inventions

A little-known fact about the French is that they’re responsible for many important inventions and technological advances, including movies, the hot air balloon, the bicycle and the bra!

Which French invention tattoo do you like?

24. French HotAir Balloon & Submarine Tattoo:

Hot air balloon: Tattoos of French inventions

Photo source: sarahktattoo

Two French brothers were the first to successfully attempt a manned hot-air balloon ascent in 1783.

25. Bicycle tattoo:

Bicycle tattoo, a French invention. Not the tattoo, just the bike

Photo source: small.tatoo

25 tattoo ideas using French words, quotes and phrases: 

French quote tattoo c'est la vie: That's life 

The beauty of getting a tattoo of a French quote, French word or French phrase is that there are thousands to choose from.

The quote can be a French phrase from a favourite book, song or movie. For instance, if you’re a Star Trek fan and love its opening credit matra, “Space: the final frontier”,  you could get it translated and inked on your body. In case you’re interested “L’espace, l’ultime frontière.”

Another great tattoo idea is to get inked with a loving word dedicated to a loved one such as “AMOUR”, French for love or “BELLE”, French for pretty. 

The length and number of words in your tattoo will determine the best placement.

If you’re going with a longer quote, the back or along your thigh is a good place. Go with a shorter French quote if you want to put a quote on your inner arm, foot, wrist or collar bone. And then there are of course, chest tattoo quotes which can be as big or as small as you like. 

For those that want to be a little more discreet, you can always put your tattoo in a private place where no one can see it unless you let them. 

On to the list of French phrases that would make great French tattoos.

I’ve translated their meaning from French to English.

26. C’est la vie:

That’s life.

For all you Pulp fiction fans, “C’est la vie” is the Chuck Berry song that John Travolta and Uma Therman did that wild dance to.

27. Je t’aime:

I love you.

French quote tattoo je t'aime: I love you

28. Il était une fois:

Once upon a time.

“Once upon a time” is a great literary tattoo not only because it’s the first line of most fairy tales; it also reminds us not to dwell too much on the past because there are always new beginnings. Getting it in French adds even more magical elegance to it. 

French tattoo quote idea: Il était une fois: once upon a time

29. La vie est belle:

Life is beautiful.

30. Non, Je ne regrette rien:

No, I regret nothing.

Non, Je ne regrette reien” is the name of a song, sung by French singer Edith Piaf.

31. Crois en toi

Believe in yourself.

32. Tout ce dont tu as besoin c’est l’amour:

All you need is love.

33. J’aime mes parents.

I love my parents.

34.  Il y a toujours de l’espoir:

There is always hope.

35. Nourris ta foi:

Feed your fait.

36.  Vis tes rêves:

Live your dreams.

37. Le monde est à mes pieds:

The world is at my feet.

38. Rien n’est impossible:

Nothing is impossible.

39. Rien n’est éternal:

Nothing is eternal.

40. L’amour ne manque jamais:

Love never fails.

41. Tout arrive pour une raison:

Everything happens for a reason.

42. Rien à prouver:

Nothing to prove.

43. Je veux aimer et être aimé:

I want to love and be loved.

44. Un amour, une vie:

One love, one life.

45. L’amour c’est ma vie

Love is my life.

46. Joie de vivre:

Joy of living.

47. Mon bonheur ne dépend que de moi:

My happiness depends only on me.

48. C’est La Vie, C’est L’Amour.

That’s life, that’s love.

This is also the name of a song sung in 1959 by Jane Morgan.

49. Croire en l’impossible:

Believe in the impossible.

50. Jamais plus jamais:

Never ever again.

“Jamais plus jamais” is also the French movie title for the James bond movie “Never say Never Again.”

And Much More

Featfrench-pigeon-tattoo

French smoking pigeon with Eiffel tower, wine and baguettes tattoo: created by Shaw Hebrank

The more you delve into French culture, the greater the chance of getting even more fabulous French tattoo ideas.

If you’re still short of ideas after looking through this blog post, inspiration is never far away, with thousands of books, magazines and French websites just waiting to light your imagination.

Remember, though – tattoos are for life. Make sure you’re certain that you want something inked onto your body forever, and make sure you take care of your new tattoo as best as possible to ensure it looks beautiful for as long as you live.

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 Thanks to Authority Tattoo for co-authoring this post with me. 

Photo of Annie André: www.AnnieAndre.com

Annie André

About the author 

I’m A Bilingual North American With Thai And French Canadian Roots Who's Been Living In The South Of France For Over 10 Years. I Love Writing Weird, Wonderful, Interesting, Forgotten, And Fascinating Articles For Intellectually Curious People Amazed By France, French Culture, And World Travel.

 

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