Looking for a baby name with a bit of flair? Take some inspiration from the Francais with these lovely French baby names that span from traditional to très chic.
French baby names: Girls
Amélie is a French variant of the English name Emily, meaning “hardworking.” It’s a beautiful name and popular choice: 81,000 French citizens carry this name and it still holds a position in the country’s top 100 most popular names. The French baby name became prominent outside France in 2001, when Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film of the same name was released.
Léa has several meanings; depending on the culture it can mean “delicate,” “weary,” “meadow” or “pasture.” Though it doesn’t derive from French culture, it is a very popular name for females in France. Prominent French artists, such as model and actress Léa Seydoux, photographer Léa Habourdin and jewellery designer Léa Stein, sport the name.
This French name, which comes from the Greek goddess of agriculture, means “green herb.” Today, it’s widely known as the name of a Parisian designer brand.
A French variation of Mary or Marie, Marion means “from the sea” or “bitter.” French actress and Hollywood It girl Marion Cotillard and American actress Marion Ross—who played Marion Cunningham on the sitcom Happy Days—have this name.
Though it’s not currently one of the top French baby names, we can’t help but love this name made popular the world over by the cute, red-headed character of Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline picture book series. This name is the French version of the name Magdalene, which is derived from the Aramaic word “magdala,” meaning “elevated,” “great” and “magnificent.”
French baby names: Boys
Now a common French baby name, Hugo, which means “intelligent,” was initially a popular surname. A prime example: French author Victor Hugo, who penned The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables.
Does royalty or war come to mind when you hear this French name? Well, it should. Louis (pronounced loo-ee) means “famous in war”—which may be why it’s been so popular among French kings. The name Louis also holds strong in the French fashion scene with designer Louis Vuitton’s line of high-end products known worldwide.
The French form of Peter, Pierre means “rock.” French impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir sported this solid name, as do a number of famous Canadians, including former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Simple Plan singer Pierre Bouvier and CFL player Pierre Lavertu.
Hyphenated names are all the rage with the French; it is quite common for parents to pair up two favourites rather than choose one (and sometimes a feminine name with a masculine for girls). Jean and Luc are both popular French baby names on their own, and together they form a biblical powerhouse that combines the meanings “God is gracious” and “light.” French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and French Canadian skier Jean-Luc Brassard have the title. And, of course, we can’t forget the fictional Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek—très geek chic.
The French version of Lawrence, this name means “from the place of the laurel trees.” This could be the perfect French name for your baby if you’re going for something high fashion (think Yves Saint Laurent), or if you’re a fan of a certain vampire in Twilight. Another famed Laurent: Laurent de Brunhoff, son of Babar creator Jean de Brunhoff, who continued his father’s legacy.