173+ French Girl names: Chic & Unique (plus ones to avoid)

173+ French Girl names: Chic & Unique (plus ones to avoid)

Expecting a baby and looking for French girl names that are popular, pretty, and unique, and that also works in English? Easy Peasy. Until you put it into practice, it is. You want to find a name that is not too common, love the meaning, but have something that is still beautiful. A name that both parents like, and that all the grandparents can pronounce.

Expecting a baby in France may be somewhat different, but the worries of parents all over the world are the same. You are picking a name that is for life. Your kid may end up hating you, so the pressure is on! (Don’t worry, we cover French boy names as well.) And I’ve also put together a list of gender-neutral French names to give even more ideas.

☞ READ MORE: Giving birth in France: Oh Baby!

ABC blocks for babies illustration

Classic French Names

Now if you are looking for classic French names, you may be surprised by how many names you already know. French and English are closely intertwined (centuries of war and intermarriage between France and England will do that!).

So there are a lot of classic names that have already infiltrated anglophone culture.

Classic French Girl NamesMeaning in EnglishFamous people with this name
Adrienne, Adrienefrom city of HadriaAdrienne de La Fayette (wife of Marquis La Fayette), Yoga With Adriene (actress and yoga teacher)
AudreynobleAudrey Tatou (French actress)
Annettegracious and mercifulAnnette Funicello (American actress)
AntoinettepraiseworthyMarie-Antoinette (Queen of France)
Avrilmonth of April in FrenchAvril Lavigne (Canadian singer)
Béatriceshe who makes me happyPrincess Beatrice of the U.K., Béatrice Martin aka Coeur de Pirate (Quebecois singer)
Brigittethe high one, strengthBrigitte Bardot (French actress)
CélineheavenlyCéline Dion (Canadian singer), Céline (French fashion house)
ChloébloomingChloé (French fashion house)
Chantalold Occitane word cantal, meaning “stone.”Chantal Kreviazuk (Canadian singer)
Charlottefemale version of Charles, French origin meaning “free man” or small.Charlotte Gainsbourg (French actress and singer), Princess Charlotte of the U.K.
Gabrielleable-bodied one of GodGabrielle (Coco) Chanel
Giselebright pledgeGisèle Bündchen
Isabellemy GodIsabelle Huppert (French actress)
JeanneGod Is GraciousJeanne d’Arc (French icon and saint)
JoséphineGod Will IncreaseJosephine Bonaparte (wife of Napoleon)
Juliettefrom the Latin name Julius, or “son of Jove”Juliette Binonche (French actress)
LéadelicateLéa Sedoux (French actress)
Mariondiminutive of Marie, wished-for childMarion Cotillard
SimoneGod has heardSimone de Beauvoir (French writer and philosopher)
Sylviespirit of the woodSylvie Vartan (French singer)
Valériestrong, valiantValérie Pécresse (French politician), Valerie Bertinelli (American actress)

One thing to keep in mind however is that a name might be French but is actually completely out-of-style in France.

For example, I loved the name Simone, but for my French husband, it was the name of someone over the age of 70. I thought it was just him until we checked a French popularity site (link in French) which said the average age of the name-bearer was 87 years old.

Equally out-of-style is Gisèle, which stopped being popular in France and flatlined around 1975, before the (Brazilian) supermodel Gisèle Bündchen was even born.

Everything old does become new again, so don’t let that stop you from giving the name you fall in love with!

☞ READ MORE: Giving birth in France: Oh Baby!

soother for baby illustration

Popular Names in France

If you are looking for names that are a bit more au courant, here is my curated list of top popular baby girl names in France today, that French parents tend to lean towards.

Now, there are French names that just won’t be pronounced properly by English Speakers: eg. Manon. I love this name, but I can imagine it being said with an English accent: Man-on. As opposed to the French: Ma-no(n), with the last “n” being almost silent.

  • Manon – Wished for child

I’ve tried to leave these sorts of names off of my list. If you do manage to find a name that is pronounceable, you then have to check that it doesn’t actually mean something else. These names sound French, but there’s a problem:

  • Madeline – a type of cake that all young kids eat in France after school
  • Brie – a type of soft cheese from the French region of Seine-et-Marne

I’ve also left out the names of my own friends and family since I’m obviously biased!

French Girl Names
Meaning in English
Aliénorlight, torch
Alinebeautiful, shining
Alizenoble one
Apollinestrength, named after the Greek God Apollo
AstridGodly, strength
Auroregolden, Goddess of dawn
Camilleserving at the alter
Capucinea cloak with deep collar
Clarisseshining and gentle
Clothildefamous in Battle
Colettepeople of victory
Corinnebeautiful maiden
Cosettevictorious, small and tiny
Delphinefrom the Greek Delphi or Dolphin
Edwigefemale warrior
Éléonorenamed after Aliénor of Aquitaine
ÉliseMy God is abundance
Elodiemight, strength
Esméebeloved, esteemed
Fabiennebean grower
Faustinefortunate one
FrédériquePeaceful Ruler
GéraldineOne who rules with a spear
HuguetteBright In Mind And Spirit
InèsPure or Holy
JoelleGod be willing
JosetteGod will increase
Laetitiajoy, happiness
Lénashe that allures
Léonielion, force and courage
LisetteGod Is My Oath, diminutive of Elisabeth
Lucielight, illumination
MaëlleChief, Leader
Marlènecombination of Mary And Magdalene
MargueriteDaisy or Pearl
Mathildemight, strength
Ninettegrace, diminutive of Anne
Noémiepleasant and lovely
Odetterich and wealthy
Paulinelittle or younger
Rochellelike a rock
Romanea Roman
Salomépeace, tranquil
Sidoniefrom ancient Phoenician city of Sidon
Sybilleseer, oracle
teddy bear for child illustration

☞ READ MORE: Top French Nursery Rhymes for your little one

Now, if you are not French, but live in France, there are certain popular Anglosaxon-American names that you should stay away from.

For example, you should stay away from names that begin with an “H”. Names like Hailey or Heather don’t quite work, since French people have trouble pronouncing the “H”. You will end up with Ea-ley or Ea-zther, and not what you were actually intending.

Unique, Unusual, & Rare names

In France, all names have to be approved by the local town hall of the city that the parents live in, so it should be noted French people cannot get too creative. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1966 that French names could stray from being religious, and not until 1993 that baby names could be a bit more “unique”, as long as they were not offensive.

For names that are a bit more unique and avant-garde, but still classically French, I have put together the following list. These names don’t make the top 100 lists in France (as in they are not over-used), but are still much loved.

French Girl Names
Meaning in English
Abriellediminutive of Gabrielle
Audettea bird
Claretteclear and bright
Elaynelight (variation of Elaine or Elena)
Fleurinelittle flower
Garcellelittle spear
Nadeleineray of hope
Odilewealthy, fortunate
Paulettehumble, diminutive of Pauline
Solangesolemn or religious

For fun, you can check out my top names for cats and dogs as well, lots of unique names there. But I must admit, I’m not sure you will want to name your baby that!

Vintage & Old-fashioned Names

As I mentioned above, until 1966, French baby names for boys and girls, had to be religious. Typically, the baby was named according to the Saints’ day calendar, which had the name of whichever saint was associated with the particular name that the baby was born.

Since the laws around baby-naming have loosened up, some of these vintage names fell out of style, before finding popularity again.

Even today, you will find most traditionally French names on the saint’s calendar, where parents and family members will remember to wish the person “bonne fête du prénom” meaning “happy name day”.

French Girl name
Meaning in English
Abigaïlmy joy is with God
Agathegood, brave
Albertinecelebrated, brilliant
Alidanoble, old
Béréniceone who brings victory
Bernadettebrave like a bear
Bernadinebrave like a bear
Berthebrilliant, illustrious
Bettinevariation of Elisabeth
Charlènepetit, feminine
Christellefollower of Christ
Dolorésfrom french word douleur meaning pain
Eglantinefrom the flower, a type of wild rose
Elianesun, God
Fannyversion of Frances, Françoise, meaning freeman
Félicecorsican name meaning great happiness
Françoisefemale version of François meaning freeman
Genevièveyoung woman
Hortenseone who comes from the garden
Ingridthe beauty
Jacinthehyacinthe flower
Justynetrue, just
Laurencefrom the masculine “Laurent”, meaning winner
Lilianefrom the royal flower, the lys
Lorrainewarrior maiden, place in France
Lyonnettelittle lion
MarcelineGod of war
Marthethe mistress of the home
Martinesmall mars, warrior
Maxinethe biggest
Maud, Maudestrong in war
Mélaniedark, the color black
Mélisandenamed after the mermaid Mélusine
Mirabellea great beauty
Nicolettepeople’s victory
Octavieof eight
Ombelinebright spirit
Philomèneloved one
Pierrettefemale version of Pierre, meaning stone
Tiphaneappearance of the Lord on earth
Véroniquewho brings victory, variation of the name Bérénice
Yvonneceltic and breton name, meaning shrub

Hyphenated and Compound Names

Hyphenated or compound names (prénoms composé) are quite popular in France, going back generations. The names are usually Christian, where most common one is “Marie” added to the baby name after the Virgin Mary, or Anne after the Virgin Mary’s mother Saint Anne.

Even boys in France may have Marie added to it, such as Jean-Marie.

baby undershirt with eiffel tower on it (illustration)
French Girl name
Famous People with that name
Anne-SophieAnne-Sophie Lapix (French journalist)
Anne-LaureAnne-Laure Bondoux (French writer)
Lily-RoseDaughter of French musician Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp
Marie-AntoinetteFormer Queen of France
Marie-ClaireMarie Claire magazine
Marie-ClaudeMarie-Claude Pietragalla (French dancer and choreographer)
Marie-FranceMarie-France Pisier (actress and director)
Marie-JoelleMarie-Joëlle Guillaume (French journalist and writer)
Marie-LouMarie Lou (Marilu) Henner (American actress)
Marie-ThérèseDaughter of Marie-Antoinette, Princess of France

Get the Look: The New French Nursery: 14 Chic Furniture and Decor Ideas

So if you or anyone you know are expecting a baby, and are inspired by one of the names on this list, let me know! If you are looking for a list of French baby boy names, find it here: Top French boy names.

So comment below, I’d love to know if I’ve helped name someone else’s little one 🙂 And for some fun baby-related French-English flashcards head over to our Free Printables section. A bientôt!

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173+ French Girl names: Chic & Unique (plus ones to avoid)

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