french girl namesFrench girl names range from the so familiar we don’t notice them – think Nicole and Danielle – to current favorites, like Josephine, Charlotte, and Claire.

Others, like Antoinette and Blanche, belong to another era. They’re French baby names, but seem more like vintage choices than fresh imports.

Overwhelmingly, French names for girls occupy a special spot for American parents. Many of them are accessible, but feel just a little different. They often read as sophisticated choices.

If you’ve followed names for years, chances are many of these French choices are on your radar already. Some might be new. Others are very popular in France – but not necessarily French. A trip to Meilleurs Prénoms reveals that names like Emma and Alice occupy the most popular French girl names … just like they do in the US.

Pronunciation will be straightforward for many of these choices. And while the less familiar French girl names might post some challenges, most could work in American English, with a little bit of repetition.

Beyond the Top 100, some of these might feel dated in France today. Others might seem more French to Americans than they do to native speakers. A few of these might seem like unique French girl names, at least by American standards – even though Capucine and Albane are the equivalent of Genesis in Quinn, at least in terms of popularity ranks.

If you’re looking for something that says Paris, while you live in Pittsburgh? These French girl names might satisfy.



A gemstone topping the charts.


Traditional French favorite.


Amber topped the US charts in the 1980s and 90s. Today the French form, Ambre, is big in the Francophone world.


In Spanish and Italian, Alba means dawn. In Latin, it means white or bright. Both meanings have plenty of appeal, and this brief name is near the very top of the French girl names.


Popular across much of Europe, all of the English-speaking world, and many Spanish-speaking countries, too.


Traditional floral favorite.


Alice sounds English, but it actually evolved in French, from the Germanic Adelais. Now it’s widely used in both countries.


We named our daughters Audrey and Ava and Harlow for glamour girls from midcentury American cinema. Born in Austria, Romy Schneider became a French film icon in the 1970s. In her case, Romy is short for Rosemarie, but it’s a nickname that now stands on its own.


Classic name with an enduring meaning: grace.

10. LINA

Originally short for names ending with -lina and -line, now it may be the most popular name for girls, if all spellings are combined.

11. LÉNA

A cousin to Lina, though this spelling is strongly associated with Helen and Elena.

12. MIA

Popular in much of the world, Mia is a relatively recent arrival to France, but powerfully popular.

13. LOU

A sweet mini name, Lou was boosted by French model and actress Lou Doillon, daughter of French film director Jacques Doillon and British actress and singer Jane Birkin. (Yes, that Birkin, like the iconic Hermès handbag.)


Timeless Julia was once always translated as Julie in French. Today, though, it’s the form with the extra syllable considered most stylish.


French author Boris Vian used this name in his 1947 novel, L’Écume des jours. The name had been used prior to the story’s publication, but it slowly helped boost the name’s profile in France.

16. ALMA

Like Alba, a pan-European name with more than one possible origin and meaning, and style to spare.


Agatha is stuck in fashion limbo in the English-speaking world, but in France – and, to a lesser extent, Quebec and Belgium, Agathe is on the rise. The meaning is straightforward and appealing; Agathe comes from a Greek word meaning “good.”

18. IRIS

Elegant flower name catching on across much of Europe.


From an Arabic word meaning “care,” Inaya points to the multicultural nature of modern France. It’s the first of many Arabic-influnced names on the Top 100 list.


In French, -ie endings tend to be feminine. But so many international figures make Charlie familiar as unisex in France, too. (Think Charlie Chaplin and Charlie Brown.) That said, the spelling Charly ranks in the US Top 100 for boys.


Strictly speaking, Juliette is a diminutive form of Julie. But this romantic, Shakespearean-tinged choice is nearing the top of popularity charts now.

22. LÉA

Lea is a pan-European form of Leah; add the accent, and it’s decidedly French.


Worn by saints and royals across the century, Victoire and Victoria have swapped places in France over the years. This is the more conventionally French form.

24. LUNA

Also spelled Louna, this moon goddess name fits with traditional Louise, but also feels very twenty-first century.


The Italian spelling of Julia.


American parents prefer Adeline, but Adele reigns in France. Credit to François Truffaut’s 1975 film, The Story of Adele H. Based on the life of Victor Hugo’s daughter, the historical drama earned 20-year old newcomer Isabelle Adjani an Oscar nomination. More recently, the singer Adele has raised the name’s profile.


The French feminine equivalent of John, Jeanne is an enduring classic. (Think Elizabeth in English.) Heroes like Joan of Arc – Jeanne d’Arc – help keep this name in steady use.

28. NINA

With several possible origins and meanings, Nina is an international name recently in favor in France.

29. EVA

A vintage name that’s made a comeback.


In the English-speaking world, Oliver is following Olivia up the popularity charts. In France, Olivia followed Olivier.

31. ZOÉ

Another ancient name enjoying a renaissance.


Leonie looks French, but it developed as a German feminine form of Leon.


A feminine form of Roman, this name was boosted in France by actress Romane Bohringer.


Borrowed from the winged Roman goddess of victory, as well as the long-reigning queen, Victoria is heard in France, along with Victoire.

35. NOUR

An Arabic name meaning light, Nour is popular in several European countries.

36. INÈS

In Spanish, Agnes becomes Inés. Inès is the Italian equivalent, and the spelling most popular in France today.

37. LYA

A mini name in the key of Lea and Mia.


The -ie ending is preferred in French, so Lucie is the equivalent of Lucy.


Fast-rising modern favorite.

40. LOLA

Dolores has never really caught on in France, but Lola is a recent style star.

41. ALIX

It looks like a feminine form of Alex, but Alix actually comes from Alice. And while it sounds like that masculine favorite, Alexander doesn’t feature in the current Top 100 French boy names, suggesting that any little Alix you meet is almost certainly a girl.


A Top Ten favorite in much of the English-speaking world, Charlotte is widely known thanks to a fictional spider in a classic American children’s story, and a little princess. Charlotte evolved from the French pronunciation of Charles.

43. MILA

A Slavic and Spanish import, Mila is catching on internationally.


Sophie is the French equivalent of Sophia, but Sofia is used in many languages, too – and is a favorite in France.


Spelling of Luna often seen in France.

46. AVA

A mini name similar to Eva.


Margot comes from the French form of Margaret, meaning pearl. This spelling emerged thanks to actress Margaux Hemingway, granddaughter of author Ernest Hemingway.


Nicely international form of Helen.

49. EMY

An Em- name that makes sense in the age of Emma.

50. MYA

A name in the key of Mia, Mila, and Lya.


It’s the name Alexandre Dumas, fils, gave to a courtesan with a heart of gold in his 1848 novel. Greta Garbo played the part in a 1936 movie adaptation, earning an Oscar nomination.

52. AYA

This mini name claims multiple, international origins, but is particularly popular with Muslim French parents.

53. ALYA

Another name with Arabic roots, meaning sky or heaven.


Like Eva and Lea, a Biblical name recently popular in France.


Margaux is the more popular spelling, but this Margaret name is also used.

56. THÉA

Short form of Theodora that logically follows names like Lea and Mia.


In English, the flower is known as the nasturtium – which isn’t name-like at all. Capucine refers to the way the flowers resemble the hoods of Capuchin monks’ robes. In the 1960s, a famous French model-turned-actress adopted Capucine as her stage name, and it slowly became a favorite.


Originally a Marie nickname, Manon has featured in French culture across the years, from an opera to a popular song to a movie. It’s one of the most obviously French female names.

59. LYNA

An alternative spelling for Lina, or possibly a borrowing from the Welsh Lynn, meaning lake. But the L–a pattern dominates the French Top 100, including favorites like Luna and Lola.


A cousin to the more popular Alba.


As quintessentially French as the Eiffel Tower, Gabrielle features across French culture and history. It’s also ranked in the US Top 100 as recently as 2010.


Ancient Livia isn’t realted to Olivia, but this has followed the longer name into wider use.


Rare outside of the French-speaking world, Clemence is the feminine form of Clement. Actress Clemence Poesy helped expand the name’s reach.


More popular than Marie in France today.

65. LANA

One more L-a name.

66. ELLA

A borrowing from the popular English name.


A feminine form of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun – along with many more responsibilities.


Pretty, traditional French name associated with the sky, and now quite popular, too.


A unisex name meaning bravery, but long associated with the saint and February 14th.


Another form of Claire, currently the more popular choice for French parents.


In Islamic traditiona, Assia – or Asiya – was the pharoah’s wife who cared for the infant Moses.


A Greek name tied to the ancient world, the story of the courtesan Thais inspired a nineteenth century novel and then an opera. As the decades passed, this name slowly caught on. It’s pronounced with two-syllables: TA EES.

73. LILA

Another L-a name, Lila can be an Arabic import, if it’s a cousin to Layla, an Indian name with Sanskrit roots, or a twist on Lily.


Inspired by a French saint, Zelie is similar to the French word for azalea, as well as older forms of Adelaide.

75. LILY

The flower name, popular internationally.

76. JOY

A happy mini name, borrowed from English.


Jasmine is more popular in the English-speaking world, while Yasmine is more consistent with the name’s Arabic heritage.

78. MAYA

A nicely international choice, Maya was boosted by popular German children’s book Maya the Bee. 


Delightfully old school take on Eloise, similar to Louise as well as the Greek helios, meaning sun. It’s forever tied to the medieval writer, philospher, and later, nun, Heloise, whose tragic romance with Peter Abelard remains a source of fascination centuries later.


Perhaps inspired by the love interest in Cyrano de Bergerac, connecting this name to a literary classic.


Borrowed from the Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt, Diane is a traditional choice on the upswing.


A medieval name with history to spare, it’s a throwback that returned to prominence in the 1990s.


A feminine form of Valentine.


Another form of Alice, not traditionally French, but trending along with names like Olivia and Sofia.

85. LISE

A short form of Elisabeth, more popular than the original now.


A virtue name with a classic sound, Constance has been worn by two queens of France.


Amelia’s French cousin.

88. ARYA

Along with Aria, a musical name succeeding internationally.

89. NORA

With more than one origin and meaning, Nora is popular across Europe – and beyond.


A nickname for traditional Madeleine.


An elaboration of classic Anne, made famous by author Anais Nin. It’s pronounced ah nah EES. While this name is quietly gaining in the US, it’s falling among French baby girl names in France, Belgium, and Quebec.

92. ARIA

Perhaps because it’s phonetically clearer, Arya is the preferred spelling France.


Josephine combines the romance of the French Empire with a healthy dose of jazz age swing.


Lilou relates to Lily, but it was Milla Jovovich’s character in the 1997 sci-fi flick The Fifth Element, Leeloo, that put this name on the charts. Director Luc Besson is a favorite in his native France.


The French feminine form of a Welsh name, inspired by a Breton hermit.


A New Testament name with plenty of style, immortalized in countless works of art.


Susan had her day in the sun in the US, but now the traditional French form is gaining in France after years of hibernation.


Cecilie isn’t particularly popular at the moment, but the similar Celia is trending.


French form of the Arabic Aisha.

100. LISA

A cousin to Lise, though currently less popular.



The French form of Amelia, Amelie sounds a little closer to another American chart-topper, Emily. 2001 movie Amelie brought it to American parents’ attention, and it has ranked in the US Top 1000 since 2003.


Discovered in the US in the 1960s, Angelique recently left the US Top 1000. It tracks with our adoption of the English form of the name: Angelica.


Arielle is the French feminine form of Ariel, a Hebrew name meaning “lion of God.” Of course, it’s also the given name of a certain mermaid …


Canadian singer Avril Lavinge made her name, the French form of month name April, internationally known.


Bernadette might be in the early stages of a comeback in the US. While masculine form Bernard is all German, Bernadette is the French feminine form. The image is reinforced by Bernadette Soubirous, the young woman whose visions at Lourdes became famous.


Brigitte sounds French, and controversial screen legend Brigitte Bardot reinforces that image.


It’s a mom name In France today, but was popular in the late 1970s.


Cecilia is popular in the US right now, but it’s far from the only form of the name. Trim and tailored Cecile is one French form, along with Cecilie


Claire comes from the Latin clarus – clear and bright. Chaira Offreduccio became an early follower of St. Francis, and she’s a saint in her own right, too. The Italian Chiara became Clara in Latin, Clare in English, and Claire in French – though Clara, Clare, and Claire all appear in the current US Top 1000, and Clara is more popular in France today.


Add an -ette to Nicole, and it becomes Nicolette. Drop the first syllable, and you’ll arrive at Colette. Impeccably French, but easily spelled and pronounced in English, Colette feels familiar, but not too common.


The French form of Dominic, it’s used for both boys and girls in France.


A slimmed-down form of Heloise, now a rising favorite in the US.


The patron saint of Paris, Genevieve is pronounced very different in French than in English. But it’s broadly familiar in the US, and Saint Genevieve is famous for protecting the city of Paris from an invading army in the fifth century.


The ballet Giselle makes it more popular, as does supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and Amy Adams’ character in Disney live action princess pic Enchanted. In France, it’s more commonly spelled Gisèle. This name has an intriguing meaning: pledge


Lucille feels thoroughly American, thanks to the comic genius of Lucille Ball. But Lucille is a French form of the enduring and Latin Lucia.


Jacques is the French form of James, via Iacobus. Jacqueline has been a style star internationally, particularly thanks to the former first lady and fashion icon Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.


The most popular spelling of this name in the US is Madelyn. But the more authentically French versions, Madeline and Madeleine, are heard in the US, too. The children’s storybook character spells it ending with -line. Only nickname Maddy ranks in the current French Top 100.


Among the most classic of girl names, Margaret belongs to saints and queens. The same is true for the French form, Marguerite. While it’s familiar in the US, it’s seldom heard.


Strange but true: name your daughter Mary today, and she may never meet another girl her age with the name. That’s even more true for the French form, Marie.


Marion emerged as a Marie nickname in the Middle Ages, in France as well as England. Marianne also claims French roots. But Marianne makes this list especially because it’s the name given to the female figure serving as a symbol of the French Republic.


French feminine form of the saintly Monica.


A Rose name with French roots.


The French feminine form of Simon feels sleek and sophisticated. It’s also musical, thanks to Nina Simone.


A traditionally French choice, Sophie means wisdom.


Sylvia peaked in the US In the 1930s, and while it’s still used, it’s faded quite a bit from those heights. French Sylvie feels fresher and more stylish today.


The French form of Theresa, which comes from a Greek name meaning harvest. Saint Therese likely inspired some parents to choose the name.


Ever since the youngest Jolie-Pitt daughter arrived in 2008, parents have considered Vivienne. It’s still far less popular than the English Vivian, but a number of high profile birth announcements have kept it in the spotlight.



A cousin to Aimee, Amance means loving. It’s unisex, and several early saints answered to the name. However, it’s quite rare in France today.


Amanda topped US popularity charts in the 1980s. Amandine takes it in a different direction.


A rarity spotted in New Orleans, it’s possible Amenaide wouldn’t be heard in France itself. But it appears in a Rossini opera, and feels French in style.


The Roman goddess of the dawn, popular in English as Aurora, but rare in France.


Marie-Azélie was the mother of the future Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, and she’s now considered a saint in her own right. Azelie might come from the azalea plant, or it might be cousin to all those Adelaide names.


Vintage, quirky Clementine is trending in the US. French form Clemence remains obscure, but sophisticated.


If you’re looking for a formal name for Cleo less dramatic than Cleopatra, Cleophee might fit. It comes from the New Testament name Cleophas.


It’s not exactly a French given name for girls. But legendary designer Coco Chanel makes it feel decidedly French. Formal name options abound.


Another name that leans French thanks to pop culture, Cosette is the daughter in Les Misérables.


Another floral name, Delphine might also refer to the dolphin … or the city of Delphi, in ancient Greece.


Mellifluous Elodie is a saint’s name, the French form of Alodia.


Several Eu- names appear on any list of French girl names. Eulalie comes from a Greek name meaning well-spoken.


Faustine means lucky, and lately it’s been popular in France, peaking around 2010.


English-speaking readers will recognize Fleur, thanks to the Harry Potter heroine. But the French form of Flora – it’s literally the word for flower – isn’t often heard as a given name in the US.


A French staple in the 1940s, Françoise is rarely heard for children today. The pronounciation frahn SWAHZ might prove challenging, but easy nicknames like Frannie make the name feel casual and cozy.


A cousin to Giselle, though perhaps a tougher to wear version.


Like Juliette, Henriette is the feminine form of a classic name. In this case, it’s Henri.


Virtue name Honor is heard from time to time, along with elaborations. Honorine is one of the French possibilities for a vintage virtue name.


A Late Latin name, Saint Leocadia lived in third century Spain. The name is also sometimes Locaie in French.


We love Lou names. After all, Louise and Lucille are already on this list. For something more tailored and far more rare, there’s Lucy cousin Lucienne.


For an even rarer Lou name, there’s Ludivine. The feminine form of an obscure eighth-century saint’s name is rare in the US, and peaked in France back in the 1980s.


Maelle looks like a smoosh of Mae and Elle, but the French pronunciation is closer to ma ehl. The feminine form of a fifth century saint’s name, Maël means chief. Maëlie and Maëlys are also options.


Manon started out as a Marie nickname. It’s pronounced mah NON. American parents might recognize it from 1987 movie Manon des Sources, a sequel to 1986’s Jean de Florette.


If you learned French with Pierre Capretz’s famous French in Action series, you might know Mireille as the French college student who starred in the textbooks. It sounds something like MEE RAY and comes from a word meaning “to admire.”


The French form of Naomi makes for an appealing alternative to the Biblical original.


It looks like Ocean-with-an-e, but it’s pronounced oh say AHN, the French word for the sea.


Both feminine forms of Otto, Odette and Odile are characters from the ballet Swan Lake, made even more famous by the Oscar-winning movie Black Swan.


Severine sounds elegant and upscale, though it comes from the same root as the English word severe.


Sidonie comes from the ancient Phoenician city of Sidon. It sounds like another place name – Sydney, Australia. Or maybe English surname Sidney. But there’s an extra syllable in Sidonie that makes it a little different.


A ninth century saint’s name, Solange comes from the Latin term for solemn, as in religious. Some interpret it as sol – sun – and ange – angel. Singer Solange Knowles raises the name’s profile.


A French nickname for Isabelle, you might know it thanks to the 1960 Louis Malle film, based on a 1959 novel, Zazie dans le métro.

What are your favorite French girl names?

First published on July 13, 2012, this post was revised substantially on May 22, 2020 and again on October 19, 2023.

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. Thanks for republishing this, as a French it’s quite interesting to have your opinion on names that are popular in France today.

    A few comments

    – Charlotte was also boosted by a Birkin daughter, with singer Serge Gainsbourg. The British princess was born as the name was already rising, and I had to look up the American book as it is not known at all here.

    – regarding your list of borrowed French names known and usable in the US, as is always the case with borrowed names (we too are guilty of this) there is quite a big difference in the perception of certain names. Not that it necessarily matters! But just fyi, in case you think your child may spend some time in France at some point, the following names are firmly in the seriously outdated and not ready at all for a comeback territory in France: Sylvie, Danielle, Nicole, Thérèse, Monique, Dominique, Jacqueline, Geneviève, Nathalie, Denise, Valérie…

    – on that note PLEASE do not name a child Cosette! Victor Hugo invented that nickname deriving it literally from the word “thing” as in “poor little sad thing”. It is still frequently used as an expression to mean “unlucky and unhappy”. This name is quite honestly unwearable in France and would make it difficult for your child to even work with French colleagues in an international setting.

    – Alice does sound French, our pronunciation was even replicated in English (except we emphasise the 2nd syllable), as opposed to the Italian pronunciation (Ah-lee-tshay)

    – for those wondering Camille is pronounced Ca-mee-y, the Y being pronounced very briefly and sounding like it does in “yes”

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s always good to have perspective from a native speaker, and these are such thoughtful, detailed comments. Much appreciated!

      Cosette in English shortens to cozy, so the vibe is completely different. But it’s so good to note both the literal meaning + the reason Victor Hugo chose it. (I think her real name is Eulalie, but that’s only mentioned in the book, maybe?)

      And oh, I didn’t realize Charlotte’s Web was a strictly English-language phenomenon. I modified the entry slightly. It happens to be a box I’ve read in French. (Years ago, I worked in a bookstore with a HUGE children’s section and we ordered lots of books in French and other languages, so I read a few of my favorites in translation – or tried to! I didn’t pause to consider whether that book’s translation meant it was well-known in France.) I’ve modified the language accordingly.

  2. My name is Vivienne. My parents told me that it means life in French. I think this is a really good baby name. I really recommend this name if you are looking for a name that is French and that starts with V.