If you are expecting a baby, and are looking for French boy names that are unique as well as popular in France, you’ve come to the right place! Even if you are not, who doesn’t love reading a list of names and their meanings?
If you’ve missed my post for girls and the issues we had to think about there, here is the link for French Baby Girl Names. I’ve also put together a list of gender-neutral French names to give even more ideas. In both lists, I’ve gone for ones I love, that are a bit popular, a bit unusual, and most of all, pronounceable in English and in French.
I always wonder, what is it too late to change my own kids’ names? (Hint: it is. In France, you only have 5 days to decide. An administrative hell will descend upon you if you don’t register the birth within that time-frame.)
Besides the French bureaucracy that comes with giving birth, there are so many questions to think about when naming a kid. Especially across cultures.
Does the name mean something to both parents? Will all the grandparents be able to pronounce it? Is it a bit unusual, but not too unusual? A popular name, but not too popular? Is the kid is going to blame you if he hates his given name? It’s a lot of pressure!
☞ READ MORE: Giving birth in France: Oh Baby!
There are several French baby names for boys that are tried and true classics. A lot of names originate from latin and the bible, and so are similar to the English versions of their name. There is no mistaking their parentage, however!
The list of classic baby names in France actually includes a lot of the same names as American lists, eg. Michael. The name, however, is pronounced completely differently in English, while the French version has two possible pronunciations that you could go with.
- Michael – pronounced Mi-shel or Mi-kaël – meaning: Who is like God
Other names, like Ryan, took me a few minutes to figure out how it was spelt when I heard it in French, because it didn’t sound anything like the North American pronunciation of Ryan.
- Ryan – pronounced Ryy-a(n) – meaning: Little King
- Adam – pronounced Ad-a(n) – meaning: To Make
The name Adam is number 2 in Paris, but the French pronunciation is with the “m” turning into an “n”. I haven’t included these types of names in my list, because while they may be popular in France, you would be hard-pressed to get people to pronounce them with a French accent!
|Classic French Boy Names||Meaning in English||Famous People with that name|
|André||manly and strong, French form of Andrew||André Agassi (American tennis player)|
|Antoine||priceless one, French version of Anthony||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (French author of “Le Petit Prince”)|
|Claude||from the name Claudius, stuttering||Claude Francois (French musician)|
|Edouard||wealthy guardian, French version of Edward||Edouard Philippe (French politician)|
|Harvey||old Breton name meaning blazing||Harvey Fierstein (American actor and writer)|
|Jacques||French version of Jack or Jacob||Jacques Cousteau (French ocean explorer)|
|Julien||youthful. Jove’s child.||Julien Doré (French musician)|
|Louis||famous warrior||King Louis of France, Prince Louis of England, Louis Armstrong (American musician)|
|Maurice||dark or swarthy||Maurice Ravel (French composer), Maurice Gibb (British Musician from Beegees)|
|Nicolas||victory of the people||Saint Nicolas (Santa Claus in French), Nicolas Sarkozy (French politician), Nicolas Anelka (French football player)|
|Pascal||relating to Easter, Passover||Pascal Dupuis (Canadian hockey player)|
|Serge||durable woolen fabric||Serge Gainsbourg (French musician)|
|Thierry||ruler of people||Thierry Henry (French football player)|
|Victor||conquerer||Victor Hugo (French writer)|
|Yves||yew wood||Yves St. Laurent (French designer)|
These French names ebb and flow in popularity, but they are all undeniably very French.
☞ READ MORE: French Nursery rhymes for baby
Popular names in France
Names that are classic may not always be the most popular today in France, so I put together a list of names that au courant today in Paris and the hexagon. The top popular names for baby boys in France have been chosen based on anecdotes as well as local French birth statistics.
So I have to at this point, add a caveat. I’m not trying to discourage you but in French, boys’ names can be more difficult to pronounce for English speakers. In general, boys’ names end in a consonant, while girl names end in a vowel. If you look at my list of French girl names, almost every single one ends with an “e”. (This is not on purpose, those are just the names I picked!)
But because the girls’ names end with a vowel, the last syllable is pronounced in both English and French. For boys’ names, we pronounce the last letter in English, but in French, it is very subtle.
- Adrien – pronounced Ad-ri-e(n) – meaning: Wealthy
For example, in Adrien, the “n” at the end is barely audible. This is the case with a lot of French boy names, so you will have to go through the list and decide for yourself.
As with the girls’ list, I have left out the names of family and friends, to avoid being biased!
|Popular French Boys Names||Meaning in English|
|Cesar||head of hair, Julius Caesar|
|Didier||desire or longing|
|Emmanuel||God with us|
|Étienne||crown (French form of Stephan)|
|Fabrice||works with his hands|
|Gabriel||devoted to God|
|Gaspard||guest, man from Gascony|
|Gaston||guest, man from Gascony|
|Guillaume||resolute protector (French version of William)|
|Hugo||heart, mind, spirit|
|Jerome||of Sacred name|
|Johan||God is gracious|
|Marin||of the sea|
|Marius||male (name from Provence, in the South of France)|
|Mathieu||Gift from God|
|Mathis||Gift of God|
|Patrice||noble or patrician; French version of Patrick|
|Rafael||God has healed|
|Yanis||Gift of God|
|Yoann||YAHWEH is gracious|
Read more about French Parenting:
- La Rentrée: The French version of Back to School
- The New French Nursery Decor: 14 Chic Furniture Ideas
- 34+ French Unisex baby names that you will love
- French Education System: Demystifying Schools in France
- 10 Popular French Songs for Kids (lyrics and audio)
- 12 Adorable French Nursery Rhymes (lyrics & audio)
Unique, Unusual, & Rare names
Beyond the classic and popular names are the names that are a bit rarer, but still easily recognized in France.
It should be noted that in France, all names have to be approved by the local town hall of the city that the parents live in. Creativity in naming your baby is not encouraged.
In fact, it wasn’t until 1966 that French names could be something other than religious biblical names, and not until 1993 that baby names could be a bit more “unique”. As long as they were not considered offensive that is.
|Unique French Boy Names||Meaning in English|
|Achille||Greek warrior and leader in the Trojan War (the famous Achilles heel)|
|Arman||sounds indian, but is quite popular in France. Meaning of the army|
|Egon||form of the German name Eginhard|
|Emeric||work and ruler|
|Fénélon||named after François Fénélon, a famous 17th century priest and writer|
|Javier||born in january|
|Lievin||form of the Dutch name Leobwin|
|Lothaire||famous warrior, army|
|Nestor||one who returns from travels|
|Perceval||pierce or valley|
|Philibert||Much brightness; much fame|
|Roch||bounteous (Canadian singer Roch Voisin)|
|Tanguy||name of character in famous French movie|
☞ READ MORE: Top Popular French songs for kids
Old-Fashioned & Vintage Names
In the past, French babies used to be named after saints. The simplest way to do that, was to name the child after the Saints’ day when the baby was born.
You might think that this is ancient history, but even today, French calendars will track the Saint’s day, and parents and family members will wish the person “bonne fête du prénom”!
Laws around baby-naming may have loosened, but vintage names are making a comeback. Everything old does become new again!
French Boy names
|Meaning in English|
|Albin||innocence of the heart|
|Balthazar||God protect the King|
|Barthélemy||son of Tolomé|
|Benjamin||son of fortune|
|Crispin||named after Saint Crispin|
|Dagobert||old-fashioned name that has fallen slightly out of style because of the french kids’ song “le bon roi dagobert“|
|Damien||from the latin name Damia|
|Dimitri||who appeared to Déméter, the sister of Zeus|
|Frédéric||power of peace|
|Gilbert||decendant of a “high race”|
|Hervé||strong, named after Saint Hervé|
|Marcel||green of the sea|
Hyphenated and Compound Names
Hyphenated or compound names (prénoms composé) are also quite popular in France, going back generations. They often combine the names of grandparents and/or Biblical characters.
French Boy names
|Meaning in English|
|Félix-Antoine||Felix meaning happiness, and Antoine meaning priceless one|
|François-Xavier||François meaning free, and Xavier meaning new house. Nickname is FX|
|Jean-Luc||From the Bible, John the Baptist and Luke. Jean-Luc Picard (the fictional captain on Star Trek Enterprise)|
|Jean-Marie||From the Bible, John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. Jean Marie Le Pen (infamous French politician)|
|Jean-Paul||From the Bible, John the Baptist and Paul.|
|Léo-Paul||Paul meaning little, and Léo meaning lion|
|Louis-Thomas||Louis meaning famous warrior and Thomas meaning twin|
|Pierre-Louis||Pierre meaning Peter from the Bible or stone and Louis meaning famous warrior.|
|Pierre-Olivier||Pierre meaning Peter from the Bible or stone and Olivier meaning olive tree.|
☞ Get the Look: The New French Nursery: 14 Chic Furniture and Decor Ideas
So let me know if I’ve inspired you, comment below. And for some fun baby-related French-English flashcards head over to our Free Printables section. A bientôt!
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