When you think of popular French boy names, which ones come to mind? Pierre, Francois, Michel, Arnaud? Names like that? Do you know any unique French boy names? Well, whether you’re looking for French baby boy names for inspiration or just want to be more familiar with popular French names for boys in general, we’re going to get into some of the top French male first names from the past and present.
Popular French boy names in France
First, if you’re interested in popular French girl names, the linked post is worth a look. But here it’s all about popular and unique French boy names from years past and today, so let’s jump in.
To me, both girl and boy French names in general always sound so beautiful and interesting. Even after living in France for a while, they have a unique ring to them and sound so classy to my ear.
You’ll find that in English, we have many of the same popular male French names with one big difference. When it’s a first name that we commonly say in English-speaking countries, the pronunciation is different than it is in French. So keep the pronunciation in mind.
Take French male names like Thomas, Quentin, Benjamin, etc. They all sound oh-so-French once you give them the necessary French accent. For example, Thomas is my husband’s name and in French, you say this popular French boys’ name kind of like toe-mah.
To compile my lists of French baby boy names below, I looked at official data of what the popular names were last year and in previous years according to birth record data, so these aren’t random lists of male French names.
To give you some context, the data gathered from birth records includes metropolitan France and the DOMs, excluding Mayotte, that have been registered by the State but excludes French babies who were born abroad.
Let’s get into my list of some of the best French boy names that are worth a look. Maybe you’ll want to steal one for yourself!
Top French boy names in 2020
Top French boy names from 2000
Let’s take it back to 2000 and see if any unique French boy names topped the list then. Twenty-two years ago wasn’t that long ago, so maybe we’ll see some names we still give to babies today. Are any of these more modern options one of your favorite French baby boy names?
Top 50 names for French boys in 1970
Let’s turn back the clock a little more and look at some popular French baby boy names from 1970. Something you’ll notice here and also on the list below for 1950 is that hyphenated first names were popular.
Jean-Paul, Jean-Michel, and others were all common French first names. Hyphenated French male first names often start with Jean but aren’t as popular for babies today.
Top 50 names for French boys in 1950
Some male French names might be misleading because they sound like female names. Take #39 below, Jacky, which is indeed a name for a man in France. I wrote a separate post all about misleading French first names. Like Sofiane!
Some of the French first names are pronounced the same way and can be male or female names like Dominique, Camille, Michel/Michèle, Frédéric/Frédérique and so many more. Unisex French names are quite popular!
OK, here’s the list of French male names from 1950:
Top 50 French baby boy names in 1910
These traditional French names for boys are classics and still popular today. Many of these old French male names have made a comeback in recent years and are back in fashion. The even seem like unique French boy names in some cases over 100 years later.
Gaston, #23 below, makes me think of Beauty and the Beast and I can’t say I’ve ever met a real-life French Gaston. I think Marcel is a such a standout name. What about you?
Let’s talk about French nicknames. Take note that the French boy names Thomas and Tom (spots 1 and 25, respectively on the year 2000 official French names for boys list) are listed as different names. Tom isn’t one and the same for Thomas. It’s listed out separately and not a nickname for Thomas.
Nicknames are way less common in France. Alain is called Alain not Al, Grégoire is not Greg, and people always refer to my husband Tom in France by his full first name, Thomas. In the US, my whole family calls him Tom. It’s just more familiar and Tom/Thomas would be thought of as variations of the same name in the US.
It’s not that nicknames don’t exist at all in France — you will hear Emmanuel shorted to Manu, for example — but it’s just what your friends call you in super casual settings. At work, people generally go by their full name and French nicknames aren’t as much of a thing.
In the US, it’s common for people to have a nickname and people introduce themselves by their nickname and everyone calls them that, like “Hi, nice to meet you I’m Rob.” That’s not the case in France. You won’t hear of too many Robs or Bens. It’s Robert and Benjamin.
Something else about nicknames in the US is that it’s common for people to ask someone what name they go by. So upon being introduced as “Michael,” someone might say, do you go by Mike or Michael? Just to check. In France, you really don’t hear that because it’s a given that people will use the full first name.
What French baby boy names are your favorites? I personally love Marcel and Axel. For more baby name inspiration, check out this amazing book of baby names from around the world.
Did you know that baby showers aren’t common in France? More on French social norms here and how some American ones don’t translate >>
PIN my French baby boy names post: