70 Michel de Montaigne Quotes (On Life, Happiness, Death)

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

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michel de montaigne quotes wisdom

70 Michel de Montaigne quotes.

And you’ll love them.

3 things you’ll learn:

  • The importance of staying humble and skeptical
  • The importance of embracing imperfections (in yourself, others, and the world)
  • And the importance of embracing uncertainty

I discovered this French philosopher (1533 – 1592) back in 2004 in a book called “La Petite Gallerie de Grands Esprits” (or The Small Gallery of Great Minds).

I was hooked.

Montaigne talked about:

  • Inner peace
  • Friendship
  • How to live
  • Self-knowledge
  • Belonging to oneself
  • Being present
  • Simplicity

All topics I care deeply about.

I hope you’ll learn and enjoy them as much as I do.

500 years later, these quotes are still gold.

Top 10 Michel de Montaigne Quotes

michel de montaigne quotes most certain sign cheerfulness wisdom

The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness. Michel de Montaigne

A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. Michel de Montaigne

A man is not hurt so much by what happens, as by his opinion of what happens. Michel de Montaigne

The beautiful souls are they that are universal, open, and ready for all things. Michel de Montaigne

Not being able to govern events, I govern myself, and apply myself to them if they will not apply themselves to me. Michel de Montaigne

Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness. Michel de Montaigne

michel de montaigne quotes greatest thing world know onself wisdom

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself. Michel de Montaigne

On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom. Michel de Montaigne

Every man has within himself the entire human condition. Michel de Montaigne

There is no knowledge so hard to acquire as the knowledge of how to live this life well and naturally. Michel de Montaigne

Only the fools are certain and assured. Michel de Montaigne


Michel de Montaigne Quotes On Life

michel de montaigne quotes only thing certain wisdom

The only thing certain is nothing is certain. Michel de Montaigne

No wind favors he who has no destined port. Michel de Montaigne

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened. Michel de Montaigne

Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. Michel de Montaigne

To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it. Michel de Montaigne

Kings and philosophers defecate, and so do ladies. Michel de Montaigne

Few men have been admired by their own households. Michel de Montaigne

A man must be a little mad if he does not want to be even more stupid. Michel de Montaigne

Ambition is not a vice of little people. Michel de Montaigne

michel de montaigne quotes greatness soul limit oneself wisdom

Greatness of soul consists not so much in soaring high and in pressing forward, as in knowing how to adapt and limit oneself. Michel de Montaigne

Life itself is neither a good nor an evil: life is where good or evil find a place, depending on how you make it for them. Michel de Montaigne

Don’t discuss yourself, for you are bound to lose; if you belittle yourself, you are believed; if you praise yourself, you are disbelieved. Michel de Montaigne

Every other knowledge is harmful to him who does not have knowledge of goodness. Michel de Montaigne

He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak. Michel de Montaigne

I am afraid that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and that we have more curiosity than understanding. We grasp at everything, but catch nothing except wind. Michel de Montaigne

We should beware of clinging to vulgar opinions, and judge things by reason’s way, not by popular say. Michel de Montaigne

michel de montaigne quotes stubborn clinging opinion wisdom

Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity. Michel de Montaigne

Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know. Michel de Montaigne

It is easier to sacrifice great than little things. Michel de Montaigne

No noble thing can be done without risks. Michel de Montaigne

I quote others only in order the better to express myself. Michel de Montaigne

One should always have one’s boots on and be ready to leave. Michel de Montaigne

I consider myself an average man, except in the fact that I consider myself an average man. Michel de Montaigne

My art and profession is to live. Michel de Montaigne



Michel de Montaigne Quotes On Friendship

michel de montaigne quotes friendship highest degree wisdom

Friendship is the highest degree of perfection in society. Michel de Montaigne

There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees. Michel de Montaigne

If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship rather than love. Michel de Montaigne

I look upon all men as my compatriots. Michel de Montaigne

I listen with attention to the judgment of all men; but so far as I can remember, I have followed none but my own. Michel de Montaigne

Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself. Michel de Montaigne

michel de montaigne quotes silence modesty qualities conversation wisdom

Silence and modesty are very valuable qualities in conversation. Michel de Montaigne

The most fruitful and natural exercise for our minds is, in my opinion, conversation. Michel de Montaigne

If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than it was because he was he, and I was I. Michel de Montaigne

Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own. Michel de Montaigne

I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly. Michel de Montaigne

Wise people are foolish if they cannot adapt to foolish people. Michel de Montaigne


Michel de Montaigne On Happiness

michel de montaigne quotes rejoice things present beyong wisdom

Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee. Michel de Montaigne

The soul which has no fixed purpose in life is lost; to be everywhere, is to be nowhere. Michel de Montaigne

I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself. I will be rich by myself, and not by borrowing. Michel de Montaigne

I conceive that pleasures are to be avoided if greater pains be the consequence, and pains to be coveted that will terminate in greater pleasures. Michel de Montaigne

A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom. Michel de Montaigne

Experience has taught me this, that we undo ourselves by impatience. Michel de Montaigne

Men are nothing until they are excited. Michel de Montaigne

Don’t be afraid to say what you are not afraid to think. Michel de Montaigne

The pleasantest things in the world are pleasant thoughts, and the great art of life is to have as many of them as possible. Michel de Montaigne

I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself. Michel de Montaigne

michel de montaigne quotes mind maketh good ill rich poor wisdom

It is the mind that maketh good or ill, that maketh wretch or happy, rich or poor. Michel de Montaigne

I turn my gaze inward. I fix it there and keep it busy. I look inside myself. I continually observe myself. Michel de Montaigne

Children’s games are hardly games. Children are never more serious than when they play. Michel de Montaigne

I speak the truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older. Michel de Montaigne

When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind. Michel de Montaigne

Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy, inquiry the progress, ignorance the end. Michel de Montaigne

Take care that old age does not wrinkle your spirit even more than your face. Michel de Montaigne

We cannot fail in following nature. Michel de Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne Quotes On Death

michel de montaigne quotes trouble our life death wisdom quotes

We trouble our life by thoughts about death, and our death by thoughts about life. Michel de Montaigne

We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave. Michel de Montaigne

I want death to find me planting my cabbages, but careless of death, and still more of my unfinished garden. Michel de Montaigne

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. Michel de Montaigne

Let us permit nature to have her way. She understands her business better than we do. Michel de Montaigne

To philosophize is nothing else than to prepare oneself for death. Michel de Montaigne



When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep; yes, and when I walk alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts drift to far-off matters for some part of the time for some other part I lead them back again to the walk, the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, to myself. Michel de Montaigne

michel de montaigne


Key Takeaways From Michel de Montaigne’s Quotes

  • Stay in the present: Montaigne reminds us of the importance of being present, not worrying too much about the future, and regretting the past. By doing this, you’ll be able to face and accept reality more easily.
  • Stay calm: Montaigne reminds us of the uncertainty of life. But the best part is that we should accept this uncertainty. Your focus should be on the process, not the outcome. Remember that you only control your effort, not the results.
  • Stay up-to-date: Montaigne emphasizes the importance of intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness. So stay receptive to new ideas and information. Learn from various sources. Learn from fields outside your main one. You’ll stay ahead of the ever-changing landscape.
  • Stay close to your friends: Montaigne reminds us of the vital contributions friends can have in our lives. Friends can give you emotional support, a counterbalance to solitude, and a sense of belonging.
  • Stay foolish: Montaigne reminds us to stay foolish and lighthearted sometimes. To not take ourselves too seriously. This way, you’ll avoid being a perfectionist and alleviate a certain anxiety. This will lead to a more relaxed and authentic way of living.

Further Readings

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

You can find him on X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Last update

February 6, 2024

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