French baby names offer a rich source of inspiration for new parents as these names sound elegant and chic. While there is plenty of cultural overlap, both the US and France have a whole bunch of little boys named Lucas today. However, there some different attitudes towards certain names that you find in France today but scarcely hear in the US. Thanks to the country’s long history tied to the Catholic church, baby names in France were deeply influenced by the names of saints and other religious figures until the 1960s. Today, baby names are much more varied and reflect a more diverse population.
We decided to take a look into the most popular names around France to get a better understanding of which names are favorites there and what appellations American parents might want to adopt. While quintessential French names like Louis are very commonplace in the US, others like Gabin have never crossed the pond and we would like to shine a spotlight on names like it to broaden your baby naming horizons. Here are 25 popular yet unique names for baby boys that French parents love!
If you are after the most French way possible to get to Timothy, you have found it in Timothée. Pronounced TI-mo-tay, Timothée probably looks familiar to you thanks to the popularity of rising actor Timothée Chalamet who has dual citizenship to the US and France. Timothée has Greek origins and it means “honoring God.”
Amir is an attractive Arabic name that is a top 50 option in France and a top 500 pick for parents in the US. Amir means “king” and “ruler” from Arabic. In Hebrew, the name means “treetop.” Outside of the Middle East, Amir is one of the most popular names for boys in Europe second to other favorites like Mohammed.
Malo, the name of an important sixth-century Breton saint who founded St. Malo, the charming port town in Brittany, Malo has emerged as a popular name for boys in France today landing just outside the top 50. The name has Breton origins and means “shining hostage.” If you’re after a very unique alternative to Milo, this one is your’s for the taking.
Baudoin is the French answer to the German surname Baldwin. Thus, the name takes its meaning from those German origins that give us: “brave friend.” A somewhat rare French name that would be home here thanks to its similarity to the well-regarded Baldwin form.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother had the name Lucien, a French form of Lucian that means “light.” England, Germany, and France are home to most of the world’s boys named Lucien today. However, the name was very popular in the US until the 1950s. Do as the French did and bring this luscious name back!
A top 50 pick for boys in France last year, but rarely found outside its borders, Marceau is the charming French form of Marcel meaning “little warrior.” French mime Marcel Marceau was definitely in on the joke. Marceau would make for a great alternative to Marshall here in the US.
Noé is the decidedly French-looking form of the Hebrew name Noah. However, you will find this as a surname and given name across Latin America as well. Gaspar Noé is one such example as he is from Argentina but lives and directs films in Paris, France today. With Noah’s prevalence today, Noé could make for a chic alternative.
A top 20 pick in France that may or may not translate can be found in French name Gabin. Gabin comes from Latin Gabinus a name that means “from Gabium.” It’s an ancient name with an upbeat vibe. As you might imagine, this one is a rare find outside of France.
Mathis is one of the most popular names for boys in France today. The name is pronounced Mah-tees exactly like the painter, Henri Matisse’s surname. Unfortunately, this name has never made it in the US and we think the time for that to change is now. With the ubiquity of Matthew names like Matteo and Mathias, etc, there is room for Mathis to join this class and really stand out.
Elio is a Spanish, Italian, and Greek name that comes from the Greek god named Helios. However, the country the name is most popular in today is France where it ranks in the top 100. This name simply means “the sun” and who could be made about that?
Eden finally entered the US top 1000 in 2008 and has since climbed to the top 500. Last year in France, it was the 22nd most popular pick for baby boys. It is considered a unisex option there and here. Eden has Hebrew origins as a biblical place name that means “paradise” or “delight.” Let’s keep momentum behind this gorgeous name, parents!
Maël was the tenth most popular name for boys in France today. Although the name comes from Breton and was present in a number of Celtic traditions for decades (including a name of a King of Scotland and a legendary son of Roycol in Wales), the name is primarily only used in France today. This Breton name means “chief” or “prince.”
Enzo has traditionally been considered a shortened form of Italian names Vincenzo and Lorenzo but it is a standalone name that’s another form of Henry. Today, the name is most popular in Italy, Spain, and France but it has also been sliding up the charts in the US. Since 2003, the name has been climbing here and last year it was the 218th most popular choice for boys. In France, it’s a top 50 pick.
Pronounced, YAH-nees, Yanis sounds like a far cry from John, but both names come from the same Hebrew root that means “gift of God.” The name has never been popular in the US, but it has landed in the top 1000 in the UK recently. In France, where it is most popular, it is in the top 50.
A popular name in the Muslim community, Kaïs has Arabic origins and means “strong” or “firm.” Last year in France, it was the 63rd most popular name for boys. We would love for this name to journey to the US as it truly is beautiful and breezy.
Sacha is the French form of Sasha which means “defending warrior.” Unfortunately, this name has never found a home in the US. In France, it has been a top 20 pick for years. For most Americans, this name is familiar thanks to Sacha Noam Baron Cohen.
A vintage classic, Yves might not be as popular in France today as it once was, but it is a truly remarkable name that has not gotten much play in the US. We chalk that up to the fact that it sounds identical to the popular name for girls, Eve. Yves has French origins and means “yew wood.” Yves Henri Donat Mathieu (Saint Laurent), Yves Klein, and Yves Chauvin are just a few notable examples with this name.
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Léonie is considered a unisex name in France where it is the third most popular name for boys and 29th for girls. Sadly, the name has never been popular in the US and when it has been given to a baby they have more often than not been girls. Léonie is a French name with Latin origins that means “lion.” If you are looking for an alternative to Leo with a bit more body, Léonie would be perfect.
Marin is a masculine name in France and Romania, as well as several Slavic countries. It is easily one of the most popular names for boys in France and has been for decades. This French name also has Latin origins and it means “of the sea.”
Gaspard is the French preferred form of the Persian name, Jasper. Gaspard is pronounced, GAS-PAHR and essentially will sound to English-speakers like Jasper with a G. The Persian origins of this name means “bringer of treasure,” a reference to one of the three wise men from the nativity. In France, Gaspard is a top 50 name but here you will scarcely find it.
Another top 50 name in France, Maxence is the French form of Maximus, a Latin name that means “greatest.” If you are looking for a creative way to get to Max, this would be an ideal option. While Max is prevalent in the US you never hear Maxence and we think that should change!
With the pronunciation, VAL-UN-ton, Valentin might mix a few Americans up. This name is used widely around Europe and is currently most popular in the France and Austria where it’s a top 50 in both countries. Valentin had one of its better years in the US last year ranking at 840. This appellation means “strength.”
Tiago is a shortened form of Santiago, a name that means “Saint James.” It was the fifteenth most popular name for baby boys in France last year. Rhythmic and playful, Tiago is a name found in just about all of the Romantic languages today. While it is most popular in France, you will widely hear it in Portugal, Argentina, and Mexico. Santiago is an established name in the US we would love for parents to cut straight to the chase and start using Tiago here as well.
Very, very, old French Provençal and Old Occitan form of Aloysius, Aloïs has been a favorite name around Europe for centuries. It predates the name Louis we all know and love. Alois was a popular name in the US until the 1930s. The Latin name Aloysius means “famous warrior.” Today, you will find this name in France and you will encounter it even more in Germany and the Czech Republic.
Though Jules hasn’t been on the US popularity list in fifty years, it is a current hit in its native France where it is currently ranked in the top 10. Jules is the French form of Julius, a Latin name that means “youthful.” We certainly hope this beautiful moniker makes its way over to the US as it is such a romantic option.
There you go! We hope you enjoyed these popular names in France that new parents there have been choosing over the last several years. We gave you a mix of currently popular and classic options that are not being enjoyed as much in America today. Each one of these baby names has so much to offer and we hope that maybe, just maybe, you might have found the perfect name for your son.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Timothée
- 2 24. Amir
- 3 23. Malo
- 4 22. Baudoin
- 5 21. Lucien
- 6 20. Marceau
- 7 19. Noé
- 8 18. Gabin
- 9 17. Mathis
- 10 16. Elio
- 11 15. Eden
- 12 14. Maël
- 13 13. Enzo
- 14 12. Yanis
- 15 11. Kaïs
- 16 10. Sacha
- 17 9. Yves
- 18 8. Léonie
- 19 7. Marin
- 20 6. Gaspard
- 21 5. Maxence
- 22 4. Valentin
- 23 3. Tiago
- 24 2. Aloïs
- 25 1. Jules
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