10 French Quotes to Inspire You in 2021

Although you hopefully had a few bright spots over the past twelve months, 2020 hasn’t been the easiest year, to put it mildly.  And of course, as we get to the end of any year, it can feel exhausting and overwhelming to make bonnes résolutions (New Year’s resolutions).

So, with that in mind, here are ten French quotes to inspire you in 2021. As you’ll see, some might just motivate you to start or keep on going with your goals, while others will hopefully remind you how strong and beautiful you are!

10 inspiring French quotes

Two girls stand with their arms up, making thumbs up signs to the city below them.

Les grands ne sont grands que parce que nous sommes à genoux : levons-nous ! – Pierre Victurnien Vernigaud

Translation: Big men are only big because we’re on our knees : rise up!

Cet homme ira loin car il croit tout ce qu’il dit.  – le comte de Mirabeau

Translation: This man will go far because he believes in everything that he says.

The last two quotes date to the French Revolution. There are many famous quotations from this time that might stir you into just the right amount of action (though hopefully not Terreur-level action!) . So if those aren’t enough, check out the link in this paragraph, or do an online search for “French Revolution quotes”.

A man in silhouette stares up at a composite image of a starry night sky.

Le courage, c’est d’aller à l’idéal et de comprendre le réel. – Jean Jaurès

Translation : Courage means at once reaching for the ideal and understanding reality.

Il y a des jours, des mois, des années interminables où il ne se passe presque rien. Il y a des minutes et des secondes qui contiennent tout un monde. – Jean d’Ormesson

Translation : There are interminable days, months, years, where almost nothing happens. There are minutes and seconds that contain an entire world.

So, don’t let boring or hard times get you down; one of those amazing moments could be coming sooner than you think!

yellow flowers reach towards the bright blue sky.

Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été. – Albert Camus

Translation: In the middle of winter, I discovered within me an invincible summer.

Pour réaliser de grandes choses, il faut d’abord rêver. – Coco Chanel

Translation: To achieve great things, we must first dream.

A woman in a mid-length white eyelet skirt and black sandals walks across a dark room. On the floor, light comes in from a window or doorway, setting her strangely shaped shadow in the center of it. The shadowl curls a bit like a handkerchief, imperfect yet beautiful

Le beau est toujours bizarre. – Charles Baudelaire

Translation: The beautiful is always bizarre.

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It makes us think about how even ideals may contain imperfections, and how “imperfections” can make someone or something unique and beautiful. It’s a great way to look at the world – and also to boost your morale on days when you don’t feel like you look your best!

Le cœur n’a pas de rides. – Madame de Sévigné

Translation: The heart has no wrinkles.

A woman in profile holds her hands cupped in front of her on a nighttime street. She looks like she's about to blow into her hands, where we see sparkly glitter or light is beginning to fly into the air.

Fort heureusement, chaque réussite est l’échec d’autre chose. – Jacques Prévert

Translation: It’s a very good thing that each success means failing at something else.

Il est grand temps de rallumer les étoiles. – Guillaume Apollinaire

Translation: It’s high time to relight the stars.


Whatever your New Year’s resolutions, and whatever challenges you’ve faced in 2020 and might be facing now, I hope that 2021 will be a year of good health, happiness, and inspiration for you and yours!

Bonne année (Happy New Year) from all of us at French Together!

Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.