Maybe your family is of French origins, or maybe you just like the sound of a French name for your girl or boy.
You’ll find many French name lists out there: mine is special because it comes with audio recording of the French names. This way, you won’t only see how the French name looks, but actually hear how it sounds!
First I’m going to tell you a bit about names in French, then I’ll lists common French names.
All About French Names
let’s see the vocabulary we use in French to talk about names: first name, last names etc…
How do You Say Name in French ?
Please press on the player to hear my audio recording of the French name terms.
The generic way to say name in French is “le nom”. If you wanted to be precise, then:
- “le prénom” is the first name (the given name),
- “le nom de famille” is the last name, the surname, the family name.
- “le nom de jeune-fille” is the maiden name.
- “le nom d’usage” – the name you go by.
Note that it is not very common in France for a married woman to keep her maiden name, nor to juxtapose it to her husband’s. A French married woman usually takes her husband’s last name.
I didn’t though… My maiden name was important to me. My name is Camille Chevalier-Karfis. Chevalier is my maiden name, Karfis my husband’s name.
Our daughter’s goes by Leyla Chevalier-Karfis, although in France, her official last name is only Karfis. Chevalier-Karfis is accepted, it’s the last name she goes by, but we have to make a special request for it each time we renew her ID….
Also, in France you can create a name for your child but it will be controlled by a law officer who may refuse the name if s/he thinks it’s against the interest of the child (read the law here in French)… So if traditional French and foreign first names are allowed, and so may be a shorten or slightly modify version, French officers are unlikely to let you call your child “voiture” in France (car). But don’t worry, I’m sure we have our share of Khaleesi…
Then I’ve heard that officially changing your name in France was rather complicated. You have to go to a juge!
What About Nicknames in French?
Watch out! “Un surnom” in French is not a surname but a nickname. How confusing!
It’s quite common in French to shorten some longer first names:
- Véronique becomes Véro
- Caroline becomes Caro
- Delphine becomes Delph
- Thomas becomes Tom
- Stéphane becomes Steph
But it is far less common though than in other countries.
Also, we don’t have first names that totally change such as Robert into Bob or Richard into Dick… This way to change first name is actually very weird for a French person!
French people sometimes have nicknames that have to do with their personal story, but it’s not super common.
Several First Names in France
In France, it’s common to give your child several first names. At least that’s what you do officially, on their ID.
For example, on my ID, my names are:
- Camille (main first name, the one I go by),
- Anne (my mother’s and grandmother’s name),
- Hélène (the name of a great grand mother),
- Marie (because I come from a Catholic family).
Nobody ever called by by any of my other names, but it’s not uncommon for people who don’t like their first name to switch to another one of their names…
One of my grandmother’s name was actually Camille. She didn’t like it an renamed herself Suzanne, one of her other first names…
Composed First French Names
As you can see form my first names, it’s very traditional in French Catholic families to name their children “Marie”, boys and girls alike.
“Marie” can be the main first name, and if it isn’t, it’s usually part of the list of the other ones!
It’s also very, very common in French to add Marie to another first name, hence creating a composed name:
Anne-Marie, Jean-Marie, but also Marie-Pierre, Marie-Claude….
Although traditionally France is a Catholic country, not that for some reason “Jésus” is not a common French name at all, unlike it is in Spanish speaking countries.
So now let’s see some common French names.
9 French Name For a Boy and a Girl
Some French first names are unisex: they would work for both a boy and a girl. Please press on the player to hear my audio recording of these French names.
Other French names will change spelling but be pronounced the same
So what are the common, traditional French names? Let’s start with the French girl names.
20 Traditional French Girl Names
Some French names never go out of style. Here is my own top twenty of French names for girls that have “always” been around.
Since they don’t really go out of style, naming your daughter this way is a safe bet if you want her name to sound French – press on the player to hear my audio recordings of the French girl names.
22 Traditional French Boy Names
Just like with the girl names, some French boy names are always around. They are called “les prénoms classiques”. Here is my own top 20.
20 Popular French Names For Girls
According to this site, here are the top 20 most popular French names for girls in 2020.
For a few years now, we’ve seen the return of traditional, even old-fashioned French names such as “Louise” or “Jeanne”, which were typically a grand-mother’s name for my generation (I was born in 1971).
This traditonal French names are mix with new comers, such as “Lina, Léa, Léna” that have been fashionable for a few years now.
So without further ado, here is the top 20 French names for girls
And now, let’s see the popular French names for boys!
20 Popular French Names For Boys
According to the same site, here is the list of popular French names for boys. Again, many traditional French names, vintage French names one could venture to say (Gabriel, Raphaël, Louis, Arthur, Jules, Paul…), and some newcomers, some with an Irish twist to it like Liam and Ethan.
You may enjoy this song by Zazie “Tout le monde il est beau” – you’ll hear many more names pronounced the French way – some are of French origin, others are foreign. The song is a political statement agains the extreme right political movement of Jean-Marie le Pen.
Would you like to suggest more French names? I won’t record them but you are welcome to add them to the comment below so that other viewers may find them.