The first French band that grabbed my attention was Les Rita Mitsouko in the ’80s.
Upon listening to my random YouTube mix today, a French band that I had never heard before called Manceau popped up in the mix and I was instantly transported away:
This reminded me and sounded like another unheralded and brilliant French pop band a have always loved: Tahiti 80:
Both bands share a love of highly-compressed, radio-friendly tunes driven by jangly guitars, punchy bass, dance grooves and tuneful hooks.
I think these French bands love disco as much as they love British guitar bands of the 60s. You get the tunes, and you get the beat. You can sing along, and you can dance.
The apotheosis of this type of music outside of France has been the music of Phoenix.
Why did Phoenix make it when Tahiti 80 or Manceau are relatively unknown?
Better marketing or management? More extensive touring? All I know is all of these bands are unmistakably French and they all sound great.
Some other French bands to explore: