Viewers of France 2 TV, the main state network, picked a top-10 list heavy with modern celebrities, and excluded historic figures like Napoleon and Joan of Arc, The Times of London said Wednesday.
De Gaulle, who died in 1970, is revered for leading resistance from London during the Nazi occupation, ending the Algerian War and making France a superpower with nuclear weapons in the 1960s.
Second place went to Louis Pasteur, the 19th-century scientist, followed in third by Abbe Pierre, a 92-year-old monk who helps the poor. Marie Curie, the discoverer of radium, was the top woman in fourth place.
Rounding out the top 10 were the comedian known as Coluche, who died in 1986, author Victor Hugo, actor-singer Bourvil, who died in 1970, playwright Moliere, underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau and singer Edith Piaf.