French baby names for boys have always felt chic for American parents. In fact, some of the most popular baby names for boys today originated in France. Charles, Louis, Jean, and Jacques are all in the US top 1000 most popular baby names for boys today. These beloved appellations are often storied with namesakes that bring each name esteem. We absolutely J’adore French baby names and wanted to discover which names new parents are overlooking today.
We found a trove of popular French baby names for boys from 100 years ago to help us discover some forgotten monikers that deserve a comeback today. Each of these baby names sound decidedly vintage with a splash of antique patina. If you are searching for a baby name for your son that feels undiscovered, you have come to the right place! Check out these 25 rare French baby names for boys that are scarcely used today but have enough vintage charm to merit your attention. They are hidden treasures!
Aurelien is the French preferred form of Aurelius, a name with Latin origins meaning “golden one.” Aurelien is a rare French baby name that remains undiscovered by many American parents. Despite it sounding slightly like Orwellian, this name has a lot going for it!
The French baby name Gaetan is scarcely heard today, even in Europe. The name has an Italian counterpart in Gaetano. Both names mean “from Gaeta.” Today, Gaeta is a coastal Italian city but it has historically been a significant military stronghold dating back to the ancient Romans. In 1495, king Charles VIII of France conquered the city and sacked it. Then, Frederick I of Aragon regained it with a tremendous siege. Then, France regained it once more. This prompted a huge wall to be built to keep the city safe from French invasion.
Basile, pronounced BA-ZEEL, is the French form of Basil. Basile is a delightful French baby name that manages to shake Basil’s pesto baggage. Basile is a top 100 name today in France and we would love for it to be adopted by more American parents.
Surname of the French architect Jean Nouvel, Nouvel became a given name when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie used it as the middle name of their daughter Shiloh. We fancy this name for baby boys as it sounds so lively and fresh. This French baby name means “new.”
Few names have crossed the pond from the Breton region! Kavan might be the most attractive candidate of this genre. Katan has Breton origins and means “battle.” As much as we love this name, we must warn you it will be likely confused with Kevin.
Alain is a French baby name that gives the classic Alan name a Gallic twist. Popular across France today, this name pales in comparison to Alan’s popularity in the states. Alain means “handsome.”
Emilien is a French baby name that means “rival.” It’s simply another form of Emil, a name that was once very, very popular in the US. Émilien of Nantes from Burgundy was a religious leader who was canonized over 1,000 years after his death.
Traditionally used by the religious, the French baby name Baptiste comes from the Greek word meaning “to dip.” This name is a top 50 choice in France today. You are likely more familiar with this one as a surname, but we think it works great as a given one too.
Jasper is an internationally-popular name that takes many forms, among them Casper, Gaspar, and the French version Gaspard. Practically unknown in the US, Gaspard is one of the top 100 Boy Names in France. Gaspard is French but it comes from Persian origins meaning “bringer of treasure.”
A cute vehicle to get to Max, Maxence was the name of a sixth century saint. Maxence is the French form of the Latin family name Maximus. Thus, this French baby name means “greatest.”
Even with American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, this name has never favored well in the US. This French surname works great as a given name. It’s related to the names Terry, Thierry, Theodore, and Thor, which can mean “ruler of the people.”
Clovis was a mildly popular baby name for boys in the US until the 1940s. This distinct, French baby name comes from Teutonic origins and shares the same root with Ludwig and Louis. Thus, this spicy baby name means “renowned warrior.”
Sylvain is proof that saying names in a French accent instantly makes them better! Sylvain comes from the Roman god of wood’s name, Sylvanus. Sylvain is the French form of the name and it means “forest.” We have no idea why this name has not caught on in the US and we expect it to explode once new parents discover it.
Nael originated as a short form of names ending in -nael, such as Nathanael and Gwenael. Nael is a Breton name that was a minor hit in 1970s France. It has come to be more popular as an independent name, and currently ranks within France’s top 50. Nael shares Nathanael’s meaning, “gift of God.”
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Marceau is a French baby name, an alternative form of Marcel. Marceau was a top 50 name in France last year! Marceau means “little warrior.” So, while it sounds soft, it carries a very macho meaning.
Devere is a French baby name that is absolutely perfect if you live near the sea or have fishermen connections. Devere means “of the fishing place.” Devere has a subtle sound and we find it very approachable for American parents.
Name to an early French saint, Didier is still widely used for boys today. This French baby name is pronounced dee-DYAY which can trip some folks up. Didier is essentially the male equivalent of Desiree. Didier means “beloved.”
Aubin is a top 500 French baby name in France today. It’s much more handsome than its English counterpart, Alban. Both names mean “white” or “blond.” We think parents searching for an alternative for Aubrey could be very happy with Aubin.
Pronounced TEE-bow, this form, which is also a very common surname in France, has a lot more charm than the name it stems from: Theobald. This charming French baby name means “courageous people.”
Very popular in France, Mathis is pronounced mat-tees, like the surname of the painter Matisse. This French baby name could make an appealing alternative to Matthew for American parents. Mathis has German and Hebrew origins that mean “gift of God.”
The name of a fifth-century Breton saint, Mael is a popular French baby name in contemporary France. Mael is pronounced with two syllables, MY-el. However, many Americans will mistake this name for Miles of Male. Be ready to protect this one’s pronunciation if you choose it!
Pronounced flor-AHN, Florent could be another excellent choice if not slightly inaccessible for some. Florent is a steady classic in France, booming there in the 1980s. Like Florence, which is historically a gender-neutral name, Florent has been used for both boys and girls. This not-so-subtle nature name means “flowering.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt inspired a brief fashion for this as a first name in the 1940s, but it is rarely heard in the US today. Although it looks Italian, Delano is a French baby name meaning “from the forest of nut trees.”
Pronounced kwah, this unusual name was chosen by Cedric the Entertainer for his son. Croix is a French baby name that means “cross.” An unfortunate association that your child could encounter today, is that Croix is featured in the name of a popular bubbly drink, La Croix.
The French-accented Pascal has historically been used for sons born at Easter and can make an interesting choice for a boy with Gallic roots arriving around that holiday. This French baby name means “Passover.” This name was popular in the US in the early twentieth century but it has been out of rotation for far too long.
There you go! We hope you enjoyed these rare French baby names for boys with plenty of distinguished charm. We hope you feel inspired by their sounds and meanings. These baby names deserve attention from new parents even though they may not be popular in the US today. Happy baby name hunting!
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. Aurelien
- 2 24. Gaetan
- 3 23. Basile
- 4 22. Nouvel
- 5 21. Kavan
- 6 20. Alain
- 7 19. Emilien
- 8 18. Baptiste
- 9 17. Gaspard
- 10 16. Maxence
- 11 15. Thoreau
- 12 14. Clovis
- 13 13. Sylvain
- 14 12. Nael
- 15 11. Marceau
- 16 10. Devere
- 17 9. Didier
- 18 8. Aubin
- 19 7. Thibault
- 20 6. Mathis
- 21 5. Mael
- 22 4. Florent
- 23 3. Delano
- 24 2. Croix
- 25 1. Pascal
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