16 Perfect French Baby Names
Browse through a charming selection of unique French baby names that will leave you uttering "Mais, oui!"
Whether your spouse hails from France or you're a Francophile interested in all things European, giving your baby a French name is a great introduction to cultural exploration and conversation. Whether you're interested in monikers that are chic and modern or you favor something a bit more traditional, French baby names fit the bill.
Old French names "such as Celestine or Constance are good choices," says French tutor Sneza Stone, the founder of Exercise Your French. "They allow parents to give a nod to old-fashioned values, while retaining a bit of a sophisticated air." Either way, looking beyond the more well-known choices such as Madeline or Juliette yields an interesting selection of French baby names that sound worldly and distinctly French. When selecting names, Stone recommends that parents do a little research into the meaning of the name, adding that, "as in many cultures, names may have more cultural significance than just the dictionary definition."
Naming your child is a monumentally personal and important task -- choosing a label that's going to be a part of you and your child's lives forever is no small consideration. Alexandre de Chambure, the founder of Monprofesseur online French learning school, points out that sometimes parents from differing cultural backgrounds look for French baby names that have meaning or varying pronunciations in two different languages. "I know a family in Los Angeles in which the mom is French and the dad is from the Czech Republic," he says.
In such cases, de Chambure explains that parents may want to use a name like "Gabriel, which is a biblical name that is popular in both French and Czech cultures." Names that are trendy and heard commonly throughout France, according to de Chambure, include the following:
French Baby Names for Girls
- Lola (LOW-lah)
The diminutive of the name Dolores, this sweet and traditional name means "lady of sorrow."
- Chloe (KLOH-ee)
Signifying "green shoot," this name symbolizes the new growth of spring.
- Manon (ma-NOH)
Related to Marie, Manon means "bitter," but this simple name won't leave a bad taste in your mouth.
- Annick (AH-nik)
This pretty name is the diminutive of Ann and Annika, both of which mean "grace."
- Garance (GAR-rawns)
Named for the garance flower, this was the moniker of the main character in the French film "Les Enfants du Paradis."
- Apolline (AH-po-leen)
This is the French form of the name Appollonia, named for the Greek god of the sun, Apollo.
- Cunegonde (koo-nee-GUWN-de)
This strong name is taken from the Germanic "kunni," meaning "clan, family" and combines it with the word "gund," which means "war, fight."
- Jacqueline (zhawk-LEEN)
The feminine form of Jacque, this classically chic name means "supplanter."
French Baby Names for Boys
- Gabriel (GAY-bree-el)
Signifying "God is my strength," this religious name also harks to the archangel Gabriel.
- Timeo (tee-MAY-oh)
A form of the ancient Greek name Timaeus, which means "honor," this is a top 100 name in France, according to Nameberry.
- Enzo (EN-zoh)
You might be surprised to learn that this popular name is a variant of the name Henry, which means "estate ruler."
- Gaspard (GESS-par)
The French form of Jasper, Gaspard means "keeper of treasure" in Persian.
- Augustin (ah-goos-TEN)
Related to August, this name denotes a "majestic" or "venerable" spirit. It may also refer to Saint Augustine of Hippo, a fifth-century Christian theologian and author from North Africa.
- Thierry (tyeh-REE)
Meaning "ruler of the people," this name is a fun twist on the Americanized Terry.
- Alban (AHL-bahn)
This masculine name can mean "white," or, taken literally, "man from Alba," which could refer to locations in ancient Rome or Scotland.
- Gael (GAH-el)
Meaning "wild," this short and sweet name is growing in popularity in the U.S. and abroad.
De Chambure advises that "parents should be clear on the pronunciation of the names in both languages" before making a final decision. That being said, it's perfectly acceptable to choose a name because you like the sound of it or to simply agree with the suggestion of your spouse or another family member. Choosing a French name just because you're fond of its sound may very well open the door to an interest in learning a foreign language in your little one. At the very least, it may encourage a lifelong curiosity or fondness for the culture.
Tisha Berg has been a freelance content writer and desktop publisher since 1997, with articles on family life, healthy living and parenting appearing on Working Mother, AboutOne, Lifescript and United Way. Tisha holds a bachelor's degree in theater history from Hunter College in New York City and is also certified hypnotherapist.