136+ French Boy Names that are fantastic (and ones to avoid)

136+ French Boy Names that are fantastic (and ones to avoid)

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!

sailor baby illustration

Classic names

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
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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 NamesMeaning in EnglishFamous People with that name
Andrémanly and strong, French form of AndrewAndré Agassi (American tennis player)
Antoinepriceless one, French version of AnthonyAntoine de Saint-Exupéry (French author of “Le Petit Prince”)
Claudefrom the name Claudius, stutteringClaude Francois (French musician)
Edouardwealthy guardian, French version of EdwardEdouard Philippe (French politician)
Harveyold Breton name meaning blazingHarvey Fierstein (American actor and writer)
JacquesFrench version of Jack or JacobJacques Cousteau (French ocean explorer)
Julienyouthful. Jove’s child.Julien Doré (French musician)
Louisfamous warriorKing Louis of France, Prince Louis of England, Louis Armstrong (American musician)
Mauricedark or swarthyMaurice Ravel (French composer), Maurice Gibb (British Musician from Beegees)
Nicolasvictory of the peopleSaint Nicolas (Santa Claus in French), Nicolas Sarkozy (French politician), Nicolas Anelka (French football player)
Pascalrelating to Easter, PassoverPascal Dupuis (Canadian hockey player)
Sergedurable woolen fabricSerge Gainsbourg (French musician)
Thierryruler of peopleThierry Henry (French football player)
VictorconquererVictor Hugo (French writer)
Yvesyew woodYves 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

ring toys for baby illustration

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 NamesMeaning in English
Alricwise ruler
Arnaudeagle power
Arsènemale, virile
Basileroyal, kingly
Bastienvenerable, revered.
Cesarhead of hair, Julius Caesar
Corentintempest, hurricane
Cyrillordly, masterful
Didierdesire or longing
Édouardguardian, protector
EmmanuelGod with us
Étiennecrown (French form of Stephan)
Eugènewellborn, noble
Fabriceworks with his hands
Gabrieldevoted to God
Gaspardguest, man from Gascony
Gastonguest, man from Gascony
Gillesshield bearer
Guillaumeresolute protector (French version of William)
GustaveGod’s staff
Hugoheart, mind, spirit
Jeromeof Sacred name
JohanGod is gracious
Loïcfamed warrior
Lorislaurel, winner
Luclight, illumination
Marinof the sea
Mariusmale (name from Provence, in the South of France)
MathieuGift from God
MathisGift of God
Noahrest, repose
Olivierolive tree
Patricenoble or patrician; French version of Patrick
Quentinthe fifth
RafaelGod has healed
Régisruler, kingly
Renéborn again
ThéodoreGod given
Thibaultbold, brave
Timothéehonoring God
Valentinstrong, healthy
YanisGift of God
YoannYAHWEH is gracious
baby's first panda bear illustration

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 NamesMeaning in English
AchilleGreek warrior and leader in the Trojan War (the famous Achilles heel)
Aldericold ruler
Armansounds indian, but is quite popular in France. Meaning of the army
Baudouinbrave friend
Egonform of the German name Eginhard
Emericwork and ruler
Fénélonnamed after François Fénélon, a famous 17th century priest and writer
Javierborn in january
Lievinform of the Dutch name Leobwin
Lothairefamous warrior, army
Morandthe sea
Nestorone who returns from travels
Percevalpierce or valley
PhilibertMuch brightness; much fame
Rochbounteous (Canadian singer Roch Voisin)
Tanguyname 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
Albininnocence of the heart
Alphonsenoble, rapid
Auguste, Augustavemajestic
BalthazarGod protect the King
Barthélemyson of Tolomé
Benjaminson of fortune
Crispinnamed after Saint Crispin
Dagobertold-fashioned name that has fallen slightly out of style because of the french kids’ song “le bon roi dagobert
Damienfrom the latin name Damia
Dimitriwho appeared to Déméter, the sister of Zeus
Frédéricpower of peace
Gauthiercommander, governor
Gilbertdecendant of a “high race”
Hervéstrong, named after Saint Hervé
Isaacto laugh
Marcelgreen of the sea
Octavienof eight
ABC blocks for baby illustration

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-AntoineFelix meaning happiness, and Antoine meaning priceless one
François-XavierFrançois meaning free, and Xavier meaning new house. Nickname is FX
Jean-LucFrom the Bible, John the Baptist and Luke. Jean-Luc Picard (the fictional captain on Star Trek Enterprise)
Jean-MarieFrom the Bible, John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. Jean Marie Le Pen (infamous French politician)
Jean-PaulFrom the Bible, John the Baptist and Paul.
Léo-PaulPaul meaning little, and Léo meaning lion
Louis-ThomasLouis meaning famous warrior and Thomas meaning twin
Pierre-LouisPierre meaning Peter from the Bible or stone and Louis meaning famous warrior.
Pierre-OlivierPierre 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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136+ French Boy Names that are fantastic (and ones to avoid)

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