And why not? Paris is considered perpetually stylish. From the 1920s city of The Paris Wife to contemporary Fashion Weeks, it’s a place that offers a creative, and apparently effortless, chic.
American parents love French names for girls, from Genevieve and Sylvie to Charlotte and Margot. In fact, we often hear these names as English, so thoroughly have they been assimilated.
French boy names feel just a little different. A few are clearly imports – so much that they’re seldom used in American English. Many do blend in, just like the girls’ names.
And a few gems stand out, French boy names that American parents really might consider borrowing for their children on this side of the Atlantic.
TOP 100 BOY NAMES in FRANCE
Biblical boy names are big across the world, and Gabriel is enjoying a moment in France.
Back in the day, Leo would’ve been Léon. But it’s the shorter form that’s most fashionable nearly everywhere now.
A sound-alike for Gabriel, Raphael is another Biblical name enjoying a burst of popularity in France now.
A Breton rarity, this name means prince, or possibly chief. There’s a fifth century saint by the name. It caught on in the 1990s, then rode the same wave taking Gabriel and Raphael to the top of the charts.
A classic in any language, Louis is particularly regal and saintly in France. That makes this name a little bit like William in the English-speaking world, a mix of traditional and stylish.
Noé and Noa are more conventionally French, but Noah is the spelling preferred across much of the western world now.
There’s Julia, Juliette, and Juliana for girls; Julian, Julio, and Julius for boys. But somehow just Jules has been overlooked in English, even as Jules Verne remains a widely known writer. With so many boys’ names ending with S, Jules might be one American parents should consider.
We think of Arthur as English, and Camelot is associated with Great Britain. But the legendary king might not be the legend he is today without medieval French tradition, expanding and spreading the tales of Arthur and the rest of the Knights of the Round Table.
Adam works in English, too, but it’s far more popular in France now. One possible reason for the name’s success in France now? Adam is revered in Islam, as well as Christianity. That makes it a culture-spanning possibility in a country where roughly 10% identify as Muslim.
We think of Luc – or even Jean-Luc – as typically French, but it’s the Biblical Lucas in the national Top Ten.
An Irish import to the US, Liam is now topping charts beyond the English-speaking world, too.
For years, it was Alexandre near the top of the charts. But now it’s this Russian diminutive for the name that is most popular. One reason: Sacha Guitry. Born Alexandre-Pierre Guitry in Saint Petersburg, the son of French actors living abroad, he followed his family into the theater. Guitry became an acclaimed playwright and filmmaker.
Another Old Testament favorite.
Saint Gabinus was a Roman soldier martyred in the 300s but popular in tales during the Middle Ages. It’s similar to Gavin, but Gabin is far more popular in France.
In the US, Eden is unisex, but used more often for girls. The opposite is true in France.
A European favorite, Hugo resonates in France as the surname of legendary author Victor Hugo.
It’s not surprising to see another name ending like Mael, Raphael, and Gabriel. But Nael is actually two things: the French spelling of an Arabic name meaning brave, as well as a short form of longer names like Nathanael.
Another Old Testament name, Aaron is associated with Saint Malo in Brittany, thanks to a sixth century saint.
A French spelling of Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
A lion of a name, regal and saintly.
Saint Paul makes this name an enduring favorite. In France right now, it’s comparable to Henry or Oliver – a classic name enjoying a fresh round of popularity.
The typical French form of Noah.
This brings to mind Marcel Marceau, the world famous French mime. But it’s also a stylish o-ending sound. Like Mark, it’s related to Roman god Mars.
An Old Testament name, Ethan probably found favor in France thanks to the name’s popularity in the English-speaking world.
A former #1 favorite in France, still in steady use.
Longer forms like Theodore have more history, but it’s upbeat, o-ending Theo that dominates in France today.
Just like Théo, diminutive Tom is the more popular choice now.
Italian names are big in the US, but also elsewhere – including France. Nino is originally short for names like Antonino and Giannino, but now stands on its own. It’s a refresh to traditional French names like Antoine.
Fans of Les Misérables might immediately think of Marius Pontmercy. Years later, French author, playwright, and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol used the name for a character in the Marseille trilogy
The most popular spelling of Aiden/Aidan in France, still rising in use.
One of the seven founding saints of Brittany, it’s believed he sailed from his native Wales with Brendan the Navigator to evangelize the coastal city. Again, the O ending gives a style boost to this heritage choice.
A modern take on traditional Mathias and Mathieu, freshly popular in the last few decades.
In the US, Jasper is a fast-rising favorite. Elsewhere in Europe, it’s Caspar or Casper. But in France, it’s Gaspard, possibly from a Persian word meaning treasurer and long associated with one of the Three Kings who visited the baby Jesus.
Once again, Martin is a classic that’s enjoying a new wave of popularity now. That makes Martin the equivalent of Henry in the US. While Americans likely think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in France this name is more strongly associated with Saint Martin of Tours, a significant figure across Europe and often appealed to for protection of France.
Another spelling of Liam.
Another traditional name borrowed from a saint, and long used in France.
A mix of Irish and Arabic favorites, Rayan is a little bit Rayyan and a little bit Ryan.
Another Italian import, Elio is often associated with Helios, the Greek sun god. It’s also sometimes considered a form of the Old Testament Elijah.
A modern form of ancient Greek Timaeus, meaning “to honor.” Timeo owes its success, in part, to the rapid rise of Theo.
Another popular name connected to Elio – and Elijah and Eli/Elie, too …
We tend to connect Milo (and Miles) to a Germanic name meaning gracious, or possibly a Latin word meaning soldier. But in French, it’s sometimes considered a form of Emile, a traditional French favorite.
Originally short for Robert, Robin has had a good run as a girl’s name, too. But now Robin is rising for boys in France.
A short form of Santiago, the Spanish equivalent of Saint James. It’s currently popular in Portuguese-speaking countries, as well as Spain, Belgium, and France.
Valentin – and Valentine, Valentino, even Walenty … this name is big in most of Europe, but neglected in English.
Another Arabic name.
The Danish form of Biblical Absalom, Axel was discovered in France, as in much of the English-speaking world, in just the last few decades.
American parents prefer August, but it’s the same vibe.
Originally a title, Amir is an Arabic name meaning prince.
An Italian import currently rising in use in the US, Enzo had a head start in France. Filmmaker Luc Besson’s 1988 Le Grand Bleu was the story of two free divers, rivals and friends. One of them is Enzo. It was a smash hit in France, and launched the name there.
More Arabic influence.
Most likely a modern French form of John, modeled on Johan and Yohan. It might also have Arabic or Sanskrit origins.
Another Irish name embraced across the world.
An unassailable classic, the French form of Anthony.
Another Old Testament name that travels the world.
Another traditional Old Testament choice, Samuel hasn’t quite caught on in France – though it’s been in steady use since the mid-twentieth century.
The Breton form of Mathieu, Mathéo succeeds just like so many other O-ending names.
Saint Cosmas initially became Cosme in French, but the name has evolved to Côme – a single syllable, rhymes with home.
It looks a little like Kai, but this name comes from the Arabic Qays.
Another Alexandre cousin, like Sacha, this time Italian.
The Greek form of John is Yanis; in Breton, John is often Yann. That helps this name fit right in.
A unisex name, Camille has fallen in use for girls and risen sharply for boys. One possible reason: successful French swimmer Camille Lacourt, who won several European and World Championships.
The French form of Leander and Leandro, a name from Greek legend with a ferocious meaning: lion man.
Another import from the English-speaking world.
Proof that the -aël ending is truly a style star.
A Max name mostly undiscovered in the English-speaking world.
Possibly a cousin to Mathieu, or maybe borrowed from the main island of Seychelles. The island was named for a French naval officer and colonial administrator.
Remember Sohan? Soan is another entry in the maybe-Jean category. French singer-songwriter Julien Decroix won a major music competition in France in 2009; he’s known professionally as Soan, which gave the name a bump.
Evan could be another import, but French families may have embraced it as an update to traditional Yves.
Another Arabic import, this time meaning happy.
Another form of Mahé, though in English it would be confused with the feminine (and single-syllable) Mae/May.
Livius was a significant Roman family name. Feminine form Livia comes from Livius, not Olivia. Livio, too, is a masculine option derived from the Roman family.
A Turkish name with a poetic meaning: moonlight.
The most popular spelling of Charlie/Charley/Charly in France now.
A rising favorite, Oscar combines Irish roots and Swedish royals to feel like a nicely pan-European pick. There’s a French connection, too: a Saint Oscar of Picardy helped evangelize Scandinavia in the 800s. (Though he’s often called Ansgar.)
Paul is popular, but so is the Spanish version of the name.
With ancient and saintly roots, Clement has history to spare. It has more history in France (as well as Belgium and Quebec) than in most other parts of Europe.
A modern French innovation, likely related to Elian (and thus Elijah, Elio, and Elliot.)
An old school name making a comeback.
A classic, now eclipsed by Sacha and Alessio.
Another Charles nickname.
The third form of Noah on the list.
An American import.
Another name inspired by Islam, and short and compact enough to appeal to parents for many reasons.
A masculine name associated with the sea.
One more Mathieu name.
An Italian import meaning eagle, and a logical successor to Enzo.
A classic among classics.
Once wildly popular in France, Joseph is now stuck in style limbo – but still very much a familiar choice.
Another traditional Max name seldom heard in the English-speaking world.
Once this would’ve been given as a double name: Jean-Baptiste. Either way, it honors Saint John the Baptist.
Like Camille, Andrea has crossed from feminine to masculine in recent decades.
From Shakespeare’s tragic romance, but also a take on Rome and Roman from the US popularity charts.
An Arabic name meaning friendly.
A name with Hebrew roots, Noam means happy.
The Arabic equivalent of Jesus.
An Italian city name, but more likely a Slavic import meaning gracious.
An Arabic name meaning handsome, made famous by British singer Zayn Malik.
Another August name, though Augustin is more popular.
A brother for Charly.
The French form of Biblical Timothy, made familiar to Americans thanks to rising actor Timothée Chalamet.
EVEN MORE FRENCH BOY NAMES
The French version of Alan, though this spelling would confuse the pronunciation in English, as it looks more like the feminine Elaine.
André is the traditional French form of Andrew, and had a good run in the US, too. Rap innovator Dr. Dre was born Andre Romell Young.
Short for Sebastian – or Sebastien, in French.
Among the most popular of midcentury French first names, Claude combines ancient roots and a straightforward spelling. It’s also heard among French girl names.
Along with Stéphane, French equivalents of Steven/Stephen. They share the auspicious meaning crown.
Americans likely think of Gaston among French male names, thanks to the arrogant strongman from Beauty and the Beast.
The French form of the Germand and Scandi Gustav.
It sounds like Jack, but Jacques is the French equivalent of James and Jacob. It’s meaning is usually given as supplanter.
A French masculine form of Lawrence, associated with figures like Yves Saint Laurent. Laurence is another possibility, though it’s considered gender-neutral.
Lucas is more popular, but Lucien has potential.
Also spelled Noël, it’s a name originally given to children born on Christmas.
The French word for “olive tree,” as well as the equivalent of Olivier.
Just like so many French baby boy names in the current Top 100, this Irish charmer has a history of use.
The French form of Philip.
A traditional choice associated with the yew tree.