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France's favourite Frenchman

Rather impertinently, IFOP asks, on a fairly irregular basis, the same question: 'from this list of 50, which 10 do you find the most sympathique? (As every schoolboy knows, it is well nigh the Everest of French ambition to be considered sympa).

From 1988 to 1999 the laureates were either Jacques Cousteau or Abbé Pierre. The former had world renown, but Pierre needs a little explanation - he was in the Resistance (really, not like so many Frenchmen d'un certain age) and later was well known for his charitable works.

And from explorers and doers of good works to judo exponent David Drouillet in 2000/2001, with Pierre making a comeback for 2001/2003. November 2003 marked a new ascendancy, and Yannick Noah and Zindedine Zidane have been duelling for the nation's affections ever since. Noah is this year's winner.

Drilling down a bit further, Ifop also gives favourites by gender, age and broad political inclination, and notes the meteoric rise of Dany Boon, not rated in 2007 but second this time. He is a comic actor / director, and crafted 'Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis', as has been discussed - obliquely - previously. Zidane drops to third and their rather more militant equivalent of David Attenborough, Nicolas Hulot is up one place at fourth. The glory that is google discloses that Mimie Mathy is a dwarf comic actress and Sister Emmanuelle is a nonagenarian nun. Many, many of those named will be unknown outside France etc to all except the most ardent francophiles. Actors and sporting types predominate, with Trot postie Besancenot the leading politician. Sarko beats Royal, at 44th to 49th. The divine Mrs Sarkozy is 50th, having ditched her homeland for France. I expect her to do better next time.

Zidane is the leader among French males, and Noah leads among women. The youth opt for Jamel Debbouze - my wild guess is that he is un rapper. Erm, no, he is a comic actor and only has one arm. The old like National Hero of Armenia Charles Aznavour, lefties go for Noah and righties for the nun.

Alas there is no list of Gauls deemed far from sympa.

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