Astrid Herrenschmidt, 45, was found hanged at their home in Boulogne-Billancourt by her mother, police sources said.
"Luc Chatel confirms the personal tragedy that occurred this morning," said a statement issued by the head of Chatel's office.
"He asks that the privacy of his family, his children and himself be respected."
Herrenschmidt, who hailed from a family of industrialists from the Alsace region, married the US-born Chatel in 1991. The couple have four children.
Her body will undergo examination on Monday.
Chatel, 47, has been minister of education since 2009 after serving as secretary of state for industry and a government spokesman.