France Best Selling Albums Ever:
All-Time Ranking (2016)

Male Albums

01 Michael Jackson Thriller (1982) : 3 760 000
02 Francis Cabrel Samedi Soir Sur La Terre (1994) : 3 385 000
03 Andrea Bocelli Romanza (1997) : 2 855 000
04 Patrick Bruel Entre Deux (2002) : 2 230 000
05 Patrick Bruel Alors Regarde (1989) : 2 195 000
06 Michael Jackson Dangerous (1991) : 2 180 000
07 Renaud Boucan D’Enfer (2002) : 2 135 000
08 Florent Pagny Savoir Aimer (1997) : 2 070 000
09 Stromae Racine Carrée (2013) : 2 065 000
10 Johnny Hallyday Sang Pour Sang (1999) : 2 020 000
11 Francis Cabrel Sarbacane (1989) : 1 980 000
12 Garou Seul (2000) : 1 970 000
13 Francis Cabrel Hors-Saison (1999) : 1 905 000
14 Bob Marley Legend (1984) : 1 905 000
15 Manu Chao Clandestino (1998) : 1 825 000
16 Michael Jackson Bad (1987) : 1 795 000
17 Jean-Jacques Goldman Chansons Pour Les Pieds (2001) : 1 785 000
18 Jean-Jacques Goldman Singulier (1996) : 1 760 000
19 Johnny Hallyday À La Vie, À La Mort (2002) : 1 750 000
20 Jean-Jacques Goldman Non Homologué (1985) : 1 745 000

This ranking is easily the most consistent category with as much as 77 million selling albums despite exclusions of instrumental artists a la Jean-Michel Jarre, Richard Clayderman or Andre Rieu.

If we ignore cult Legend compilation album of Bob Marley, only three English albums feature inside this Top 20, including the chart topper. Those albums, Thriller (#1), Dangerous (#6) and Bad (#16) have several things in common but especially one – they are all Michael Jackson albums. His absolute dominance among foreign artists is completed by History which is the fourth foreign male studio album at #22 on this list. The only other purely foreign artist with more than one million seller is Phil Collins at #48 with …But Seriously and #54 with Serious Hits… Live.

Not fully local, not fully foreign are both Manu Chao and Julio Iglesias. The former had a mind blowing era with Clandestino (#15) and sits at #67 with Proxima Estacion Esperanza. The latter has two albums lower on charts, A Vous Les Femmes (#44) and Sentimental (#73).

But the big deal about male artists relates to local singers. Several of them registered insane results. Jean-Jacques Goldman already had two albums in the Bands list plus one related album in the Various artists list thanks to Génération Goldman covers. He also wrote two of the Top 3 female albums ever plus various others over a million. Just like it wasn’t enough, the man also rockets an unreal seven albums past 1 million as a solo artist. He is #17, #19, #20, #24 (Entre Gris Clair Et Gris Foncé), #33 (En Passant), #43 (Positif) and #61 (Minoritaire). A good challenge for him could be to the release of an instrumental album, just to see if he still pulls a million!

Francis Cabrel is also one of a kind. His Samedi Soir Sur La Terre is runner up to Thriller while his remaining albums are at #11 (Sarbacane), #13 (Hors-Saison), #30 (77-87), #49 (Fragile) and #63 (Les Chemins De Traverse).

Various artists had three million sellers. Patrick Bruel is one of them with two giga sellers (#4 & #5) plus Juste Avant at #28. Florent Pagny is #8, #27 (Bienvenue Chez Moi) and #66 (Ailleurs Land). Renaud results are similar as he is #7, #31 (Morgane De Toi) and #45 (Mistral Gagnant). So did Yannick Noah despite a dropping market with his #23 debut, Pokhara at #50 and #51 with Charango. The last owner of a triple crown is Michel Sardou. If all his million sellers barely did it – he owns albums #62, #69 and #70 – he is also the one with three more albums just under the mark.

As we mentioned all all-time best selling artists minus the absolute #1, it is time to mention Johnny Hallyday. The immortal rocker has two albums inside the Top 20 at #10 and #18. Lower down the rankings he has two more million sellers with Rock ‘N’ Roll Attitude and Gang, but he has also an accountable number of albums ranging from half a million to a million.

With two albums a piece are also Alain Souchon, Calogero and Jacques Brel.

Giving the competition and the current market, Stromaé achieves the unreal position of #9 with his terrific smash Racine Carrée. He is still climbing the list.

14 thoughts on “France Best Selling Albums Ever:
All-Time Ranking (2016)”

  1. Hello Guillaume,
    Although ‘ABBA Gold’ should be No.3 in your ‘Hits’ Albums List, you have accidentally
    given it a joint No.2 place – with ‘Legend’.

    You also have no No.8 Album in the List – and that should be the Francis Cabrel Album.
    That becomes No.8, when you give ABBA the No.3 Position & move the next 5 Albums
    down a place.

    Very Best Wishes


  2. Hi Luca & Colin!

    Thanks a lot both, I knew I could count on you to fix typos 😉

    I think most are fixed now! I’ll keep checking to make sure everything is ok!

  3. Hi MJD! Great job as usual! I have a question for you, do you have a list of the best selling non-French/French-Canadian female artists in France (in terms of total album sales)? Madonna might be #1, but I’m not sure about the rest. I’d love to see how international acts like Madonna, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Adele, Britney Spears, Barbra Streisand, etc. rank! Thank you for your time!

    1. Hi Trish!

      Well 4 of those have already been covered by France Album Sales articles. No doubt I’ll continue posting several of them in the near future with Whitney Houston coming out soon 🙂

  4. MJ, are you planning to do Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson this year?

    I’m starving for those articles!

    Love your site 😉

  5. Wow. I thought Madonna was freaking huge in France. I guess she was very consistent, but she never had one great album that is like super monster big in France. I also thought she was bigger than Michael Jackson or at least as big, but clearly here Michael Jackson beat her by a long shot.

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