After failing his college exams, Noiret turned to the stage and toured with the Théâtre National Populaire between the ages of 23 and 30. He also toured local cabarets as part of a political comedy duo.
Noiret made his French film debut with a bit part in 1949, at the age of 19, before returning to the genre full time in 1960.
He was a star by the late 1960s and has received 5 Best Actor César Award nominations for:
- The Old Gun (1975) (won the César),
- Pile ou face (1980),
- Coup de torchon (1981),
- My New Partner (1984) and
- Life and Nothing But (1989) (won the César).
He appeared in more than 135 feature films through 2007.
Noiret married the actress Monique Chaumette in 1962 and their daughter, Frédérique Noiret (b. 1966) was an assistant film and television director in the 1980s and early 1990s. Their granddaughter is the actress Deborah Grall.
He died of a cancer in Paris, in 2006, at the age of 76.