Peers in France were somewhat different from their English counterparts. The original peers were 12, being the most important of the king of France's vassals in the Middle Ages. They were the archbishop-duke of Reims, the bishops-dukes of Laon and Langres, the bishops-counts of Beauvais, Châlons, and Noyons, the dukes of Burgundy, Normandy, and Aquitaine, and the counts of Toulouse, Flanders, and Champagne.

By the end of the Middle Ages, however, the non-ecclesiastical peerages had died out or been absorbed by the French crown. Eventually, new peerages began to be created. First, all princes of the blood were peers, and all noblemen holding peerages as conferred by the Crown. Peers ranked above all others, except for the royal family and princes of the blood. Most of them were dukes. In addition to various honorific privileges, they were automatic members of the Paris Parlement, and in case of criminal accusations, could be tried only by that body.

Peerages were abolished during the Revolution.