To check out the latest trends in French baby names—-and see what the future holds– we turn once again to our favorite French correspondent, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms 2011, the latest edition of which is available on French Amazon.
Here is my forecast for the Top 20 French baby names of 2011 based on statistical data from Insee, the national institute of statistics in France. The names displayed in italics are variant spellings which have been given to more than 500 babies this year.
|1. Emma||1. Lucas, Luca, Luka(s)|
|2. Jade||2. Mathis, Mathys, Matis|
|3. Chloé, Cloé||3. Noah, Noa|
|4. Sarah, Sara||4. Nathan|
|5. Léa||5. Mathéo, Matteo, Mateo|
|6. Manon||6. Enzo|
|7. Louna, Luna||7. Louis|
|8. Inès, Ynès||8. Raphaël, Rafaël|
|9. Lilou, Lylou||9. Ethan|
|10. Camille||10. Gabriel|
|11. Clara||11. Jules|
|12. Maëlys||12. Maxime|
|13. Zoé||13. Yanis|
|14. Louise||14. Théo, Téo|
|15. Lola||15. Arthur|
|16. Lina, Lyna||16. Tom|
|17. Lily, Lilly, Lili||17. Hugo|
|18. Eva||18. Timéo|
|19. Louan(n)e, Lou-Ann(e)||19. Thomas|
|20. Lucie||20. Kylian, Killian|
This year, Gabriel, Samuel and Louis have shown unexpected gains in the rankings. On the other hand, Marie has plunged to 37th place, down almost 20 spots in one year. Marie was the most common name from the 15th to the 20th century in France, but although more than 1.3 million French women are still named Marie, it has finally had to let new names take over.
The rise of Old Testament names like Nathan, Gabriel, Raphaël and Noah (Noé) comes in striking contrast to the decline of Marie. The fact that the country is largely Catholic has, for centuries, resulted in the choice of traditional names such as Paul, Pierre, Luc, Jean, Mathieu or Anne, Marie, Jeanne, Catherine.
Americans might ask: What about our consistent champion Jacob ? Well, this name has never made it into the limelight here; over the 20th century, it has never been given to more than 50 French babies in any year. In 2010, Jacob has been given to only 25 boys, so that it doesn’t even register in the top 1000. Unlike Joshua, with its dual dimension as a Protestant and Jewish name, (Joshua appears in the top 200 this year), Jacob tends to be considered as a very religious Jewish name, a tag shunned by most other parents in this increasingly secular society.
Stephanie Rapoport created MeilleursPrenoms.com with her husband Stuart in 2000, frustrated because “it had been so hard to choose the names of our children and the web at that time did not provide great sites such as Nameberry and MeilleursPrenoms” Her first book, “Officiel des prenoms” was published in 2002 and she has been enriching it with new name statistics analysis every year since.