Montanier has signed a two-year contract at the City Ground.
The club have been without a permanent man in charge of first team affairs since Dougie Freedman was sacked on March 13.
Coach Paul Williams stepped up and took over on a temporary basis until the end of the season, aided by Andy Reid and Gary Brazil.
But the supporters’ wait has ended following an announcement by current Reds chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi on Twitter.
It read: “I am delighted to announce we have completed the appointment of Philippe Montainer as head coach #NFFC”
Montanier made more than 300 appearances during his playing days with clubs including Toulouse, Nantes and Saint-Etienne.
The Frenchman made the step into coaching with Boulogne in 2004 and in his final season secured promotion to Ligue 1 for the first time in the club’s history.
Time at Valenciennes followed before he was appointed head coach at Spanish side Real Sociedad in 2011.
During the 2012/13 season, he guided the club to a fourth-place finish in La Liga and qualification for the Champions League.
After the expiration of his contract with Sociedad, Montanier took over at French club Rennes in 2013 and steered them to the Coupe de France final in 2014.