Popular Baby Names: What are French People Naming their Kids?

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Popular Baby Names: What are French People Naming their Kids?

William Shakespeare wrote, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But one must ask – after the release of the most popular French baby names in Paris – would a French child by any other name behave as well? 

A recent report shows that the current top 10 first names for girls in Paris are as follows: Louise, Alma, Alice, Anna, Olivia, Jeanne, Gabrielle, Emma, Adèle, and Iris. And for boys, the current top 10 first names for little garçons in Paris are as follows: Gabriel, Adam, Raphaël, Louis, Noah, Isaac, Arthur, Mohamed, Gaspard, and Joseph.

When most Americans think of French names, they think of stalwart names like Henri, Isabelle, John-Paul, Claudine, and of course, Pierre. But times they are a-changin’, and the most popular French baby names look different now. In 2022, the most popular French baby names were Alma and Gabriel. (Alma has fallen in favor on the latest list, but Gabriel remains very popular.)  

While Louise and Gabriel are chart-topping names this year in France, the UK’s current most popular names for baby girls include Olivia, Amelia, Isla, Ava, and Ivy. And the top five most popular names for boys in the UK are Noah, Oliver, George, Arthur, and Muhammad. According to the website The Bump, the trendiest names in the U.S. include the following: Kai, Eliana, Jayden, Ezra, Luca, and Rowan.

Let’s look at some of the most popular French baby names in Paris and explore them a bit more.  

Baby in Paris. Photo credit: kimdokhac/ Flickr. “Mister Baby”

Louise

According to the recent report, the name Louise is the most popular baby name given to girls in Paris. The report says that this name has been among the most popular since 2007! The name Louise is the feminine form of Louis, and given the prominence of Louis’s throughout the history of France, it makes sense that this name prevails. 

The name Louise regularly appears on popular names lists for countries including France, Ireland, Wales, Sweden, Scotland, and England. In the U.S., Louise is more commonly a middle name, and it has not been a common first name in the U.S. since 1991. 

Actress Louise Bourgoin at the Festival de Cannes, 2010. Photo credit: Georges Biard/ Wikimedia commons

Alice 

Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll knew the power of the name Alice, and it seems like French parents are taking note, too. The first name Alice is new on the list of rankings (bumping off names like Rose, Jade, and Chloé). Alice is a name of German origin; it’s a shortened form of Germanic name Adalheidis (which means “noble” and “exhalated”). From Alice Walker to Alice in Wonderland, Alice is a surefire choice for a baby name.  

Alice in Wonderland. Photo Credit: Russ Sanderlin

Adèle 

Adèle – along with Iris and Olivia – are new names of note on the list of most popular French baby names. The name Adèle (which may also be seen written as Adele, without an accent), is a German-origin name meaning “nobility.” (It feels fitting, then, that Grammy-winning singer Adele is so regal and noble!) Famous young French people with this name include Blue is the Warmest Color actress Adèle Exarchopoulos (she was the youngest person ever to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes.)

Adèle Exarchopoulos. Cannes 2019. Photo Credit: Georges Biard/ Wikimedia commons

Gabriel 

For boy’s names, there seems to be none greater than Gabriel. Gabriel is regularly topping lists of most popular baby names for boys. The name has sat in the number one slot for multiple years in a row. (Following closely behind are Raphaël and Adam.) Gabriel is of Hebrew origin and it translates to “Hero of God” or “God is my strength.” The name has special significance in Christian faiths, because of the angel Gabriel, who tells the Virgin Mary that she will carry the son of God.   

In rare cases, the name Gabriel is spelled as Gabryel. Gabriel has frequently been used in royal and noble families as a popular boy’s name. Famous men named Gabriel include Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, Austrian painter Gabriel von Max, and France’s new prime minister Gabriel Attal.  

Gabriel Attal, now the prime minister of France, in November 2023. Photo credit: Conseil de l’Union Européenne / Wikimedia commons

Adam  

Adam is also a name of Hebrew origin, and it means “son of red earth.” According to Christian and Hebrew faiths, Adam is also the first name given to man by God. It’s a name that is seeped in religious tradition, as well as cultural tradition. Many Adams have made their mark throughout recent history, including Adam Sandler, Adam Scott, Adam Lambert, Adam Levin, and more. 

Portrait of Louis Vuitton. Unknown author. Public domain

Louis 

Louis Vuitton isn’t the only Louis in Paris. (Read our 5 Fun Facts about Louis Vuitton here.) Louis is the French form for the Frankish name Chlodowig, and the English version is spelled as Lewis. The name Louis has been historically tied to war – through the name’s form Clovis – and means “famous in battle” or “famous warrior.” There have been a number of King Louis’s throughout French history, as well as famous Louis’s in the field of the arts, including Louis Armstrong, the poet Louis Clark, and of course – famous French fashion figure Louis Vuitton.

Lead photo credit : Photo Credit: Baby Name Brainstorm/Flickr

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.