French Names We Need To Borrow
French baby names are a rich source of inspiration, whether you need a name that works across cultures or just want something with a fresh, sophisticated sound.
So many of the names we love have French origins. Some, like Charlotte and Louis, are so well-established that it’s easy to forget they’re French at all, while more recent favorites like Amelie and Beau are more self-conscious imports.
What are real French parents naming their children, though? As the 2019 statistics show, they share some of their top names with the rest of the world, starting with the most popular girl name, Emma (now number 2 in the USA). Other common favorites include Liam, Noah, Ethan, Olivia and Luna.
But you don’t have to scroll far down the list to find distinctly French names, which either rank much lower in the States — Louise, Hugo — or not at all, like Manon and Jules. We could go on… and we will!
Every new year, French news sites are packed with reports on the most popular names in France, with data on dozens of towns and cities across the country. We’ve scoured them to find the most up-to-date name trends in our favorite hexagonal country.
Popular baby names in Paris
Let’s start in the capital. The top Parisian names of 2020 included absolute classics like Jeanne and Joseph, and vintage returns such as Arthur and Victor. Parisian parents love biblical names for boys, plus Mohamed from the city’s large Muslim community. Alma is fast becoming the hottest girl name in Europe: it’s at number one in Denmark, and also ranks highly in Norway, Sweden, Germany and Spain.
Popular names across France
What’s big in Paris is also popular elsewhere in the country, but a wide variety of other names crop up on local name charts. Names starting with A, E, L and M are la mode for both sexes, as are short names with three and four letters, and simple two-syllable sounds. There are several his-and-hers pairs of names with fashionable sounds, like Léon and Léonie, Milo / Milan and Mila, Théo and Théa.
Here are 100 names — 50 for girls, 50 for boys — that rank highly in towns and cities all over France.
Rare and standout French names
The most interesting local news stories are the ones that report not just the most popular baby names in the area, but also the most unusual — which are often hidden treasures.
French parents love grand, romantic names as much as the rest of us. These antique names from ancient mythology, history and literature were all given to 2020 babies.
French word names
These word names stand out on French babies, and would work well in the English-speaking world too, following in the footsteps of Soleil.
Just for fun, let’s turn it around. These names are familiar to English ears, but were noteworthy on French bébés.