He has seen his fortune grow by 56% over the past year due to stock market changes.
He tops the annual 500 richest people list by Challenges magazine. The past year alone has seen the wealth needed to gain entry to the list rise by €30millon to reach €130m.
Mr Arnault overtook L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who has €35.8bn, ahead of Hermès owners the Dumas family on €30.85bn, who beat the Mulliez family, owners of Auchan, Décathlon and Leroy- Merlin, who sit on €30bn.
Foreign investments were the major factor behind the surge in valuations and Challenges said the wealth of the top 500 fortunes list had grown by 350% since it was started in 1996 and in that time the gross domestic product of France as a country only doubled. The increase in wealth for the top 10 was startling, growing 12 times and by 35% from last year.
One new entry on the list was Free Mobile founder Xavier Niel, who came in at No10 with a net worth of €9.4bn. He trails fellow telecoms boss Patrick Drahi, head of SFR and Altice, who has €14.7bn.