What are the most popular French baby names in 2024?
What’s in a name? Plenty if you understand the parental psychology or the convoluted etymology of names. As language learners, we’re more interested in French names and learning a little about their background. Here are 20 popular names for baby boys and girls, all utterly Gallic in origin and sound.
What are the most popular names in France?
French Girls’ Names
The name rolls off the tongue and evokes images of flowers. Or perhaps, frothy Italian coffee. If you thought flower, you were right. The name is French for the colorful nasturtium plant.
Capucine is 100% French origin. And a popular among French names for decades, although reports suggest it has fallen out of favor in recent years.
Chloé / Chloë
With the confusingly accented é/ë and a Parisian fashion empire marketing the name globally, you would think Chloé is utterly French. In fact, Greece was first with Khlóe.
The English version, sans accent, was likely imported into the language via France. Chloé remains the fourth most popular female French name according to a 2016 book.
Another accent, another megastar name. Québec native Céline Dion is huge in France, she even made our pick of French Hits You’ll Love, and you’ve got to wonder why it’s not more popular.
An old French name that translates to heavenly, yet it’s nowhere to be seen in the top 10 French names for girls.
The name topping the 2021 data for new babies in France places Jade top of French names for girls.
In English, we think of precious stones. Jade gets its name from Spain, where the bright mineral was once used to treat colic. Piedra de la ijada means “stone of the colic”. The practice has fallen out of use. The name, on the other hand, is sweeping across France.
Inès is a name that endures. A French spin on the Portuguese Agnes, there was a Saint Agnes martyred in Roman times. The name still sits in the top 10 French names for girls.
Meaning pure or virginal, it’s a name that’s never gone out of fashion.
Manon is an intriguing name, making something of a comeback according to the stats.
Also used in Welsh and Dutch, in France Manon was a nickname for Marie or Marianne, yet has been a popular name from birth for decades.
The beloved cinema classic Manon des Sources may have given it a boost. Which was probably needed, as some sources claim Manon means “Sea of bitterness.” Although the biblical Mary is a more recognized association.
Another French name in the top 20 for new babies (2019) is a net lesson in the similarities between English and French. Ambre means amber, and the beautiful imagery has made the name popular on both sides of the Atlantic for generations.
Interestingly, Charlotte is derived from the male French name Charles.
For both genders, it means “free man.” Yet its origin may have come from King Charles II across the Channel, who named his daughters Charlotte and ultimately fled to France to avoid his father’s fate.
Which is why today, Charlotte also means “petite.” But that hasn’t stopped it from falling out of favor in France, even though it remains exceedingly popular in the UK and the States. Not least among royalty.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” wrote Shakespeare. It suggests old English and was popular throughout Europe in the middle ages. But the Normans coined the name from a far less floral name, the Germanic Hrodheid.
For the Normans of old, it would have meant “famous type.” For everyone else, a pretty flower, which keeps it among the top ten French names for girls.
Romeo and Juliet offer a convenient segue into our last French name for girls. And one that has remained popular for centuries.
Taken from the name Julie, meaning young, the irrepressible Juliette is still in the top 20 French names. Conversely, wherefore art thou Romeo in the French names for boys. Not in our ten favorites below, that’s for sure.
French boys’ names
Sixteen kings took the name, Louis. Yet, despite the unfortunate outcome for number 16, the unmistakably French name remains top five for new babies in France.
Louis is spun from Clovis, the first king of France. The widely-accepted interpretation is that it meant “famous warrior.” The name has had quite a ride, from first to last king and onto monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage. And shows no sign of losing its appeal as a French name for boys.
Gabin is an oddity. Not any particular individual, but the etymology. It’s a family name that has gained popularity as a first name for boys in France.
Said to refer to an ancient city in Italy, Gabii, the pronunciation sounds totally French. And very much in vogue across France.
Gérard sounds about as French as it gets. Just about every famous Gérard comes from France. And there’s a lot!
Like many other French names, the origins trace back to the Germanic and Romance languages. Combining the word “spear” and “hard,” it’s another one that suggests warriors had a sizeable influence on ancient parents to be.
And another name that appears as a family and first name in France.
The masculine and feminine intricacies of the French language mean there are many common gender-neutral names. Sometimes spelled a little differently, often pronounced precisely the same.
Jules, a diminutive of Julien and Juliette, is rapidly becoming a boy’s name only. Number 6 for boys in 2019, but nowhere to be seen among the French girls’ names.
Forever linked to the science fiction great legend Jules Verne, this name means “youthful,” like Juliette.
Sports fans may recognize the altogether French-sounding Antoine. Superstar rugby and soccer players bear the name.
Antoine is of Latin origin (Antonius), meaning “highly praiseworthy.” Which seems an appropriate name for sports stars. It is also a variation on two more complete French names for boys, Danton and Titouan.
We couldn’t leave the current president of France off this list, Monsieur Macron, AKA Manu (not that he’s cool with the nickname).
Still, the name may have a French twist but is sourced from the Biblical Hebrew, Immanuel.
Although we couldn’t resist this name as its female counterpart, Emmanuelle, was immensely popular a couple of generations ago.
Mathis, a favored French name for boys, is a curiosity with French-German origins. Unsurprisingly, the derivation of Matthew emerged from Alsace-Lorraine, those oft-disputed lands sandwiched between the neighboring countries.
Mathis remains popular on both sides of the border. Meaning “gift of God,” it’s easy to see why this French name gained ground with earlier generations. Now it is firmly embedded in the top 10 French names for boys.
You won’t find many parents naming their newborn Pierre these days. But the French version of Peter was once so popular that the name became shorthand for a Frenchman.
In old French, Pierre means “stone” or “rock.” Pierre has stuck around as a surname, but you’ll have to warp back to 1900 to see it in the most common French names for boys.
Marcel is another name evocative of bygone France. Icons like Marcel Proust and Marcel Marceau ensured it would remain a name that screams French.
The name can be traced back to the Latin Marcellus and gained a foothold in the Occitan region stretching from Provence into Catalonia. Unlike poor Pierre, Marcel has retained some popularity in France.
Perhaps meaning “belonging to Mars,” it’s also interpreted as “little warrior” in France. A delightful name and nickname that kids would love.
We end our flick through French names of interest with an eye-catching name from the top 10 of 2020.
A name once common throughout the 6 Celtic nations, Maël entered the French language via Brittany.
Meaning “prince” or “chief,” it’s a name any boy would wear with pride. The equally evocative Maëlys is a fashionable French name for girls, and both sound quintessentially French, even if you might find the odd Maël in Scotland, Ireland, or any other Celtic nation.