Whether you’re looking for a traditional French girl’s name, a popular or common French girl’s name, vintage, unique or rare French name, I’ve got you covered with plenty of baby name inspiration for you and your future daughter. (French Boy names coming soon…)
Beautiful French Names For Girls
Choosing the perfect name for your baby girl is a fun experience, but it can be stressful too. After all, your daughter will carry the name you lovingly choose for her FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE!
So how do you pick the perfect baby name?
It depends because parents find baby name inspiration differently.
Some parents prefer to choose a popular baby name from a list of trendy names. Others prefer a traditional name that holds a particular meaning. And still, others favour unusual baby names that probably wouldn’t win any popularity contests.
If, however, you love French culture, the French language, or you want to choose a name based on your French ancestry, this list of female French names should give you a good start.
How this list of pretty French baby names is organized
There are literally hundreds of beautiful, cute, chic, and unique French baby girl names to choose from for your future bundle of joy.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Rather than organizing this list based on what I think are the most beautiful or prettiest baby names, I combed through the French birth registrar of female French names given to little girls and organized them into the following categories.
- By year: I’ve listed the most popular first names based on the year they were popular: 2020, 1900 to 1920s, 1950’s and 1980s.
- Traditional and Classic French girl names
- Rare and unique French names for girls
- Compound baby girl names such as Marie-Antoinette.
- Gender-neutral French names (for male and females)
- Female French actress names. Sometimes names will spike in popularity based on the popular French actress.
*There may be some overlap of names in certain categories. For instance, the name Marie has been popular for multiple decades so it may show up in vintage names and popular names.
Get out your notebook!
Go through this list and write down the French baby names that stand out to you.
Then revisit your top choices, and discuss them with your friends, family or partner.
Before jumping into the list, let me give you a little background behind French names.
What you need to know about French first names in France
If you’re looking for unusual, weird or made-up French names like Mochaccino or Frappucino, you might be a little disappointed. French names tend to be more classic or traditional, and that’s because the French government has the last say on what name you give your children.
Old French law: Parents could only name their children after Christian Saints for a long time.
For a long time, Parents in France had to choose a baby name from a long list of acceptable French first names laid out by French authorities. Napolean Bonapart enacted this law which was called the “11 Germinal, An XI,” in 1803. It basically forced parents to only use Christian names based on the names of saints in the Roman Catholic calendar (Jean, Marie, Paul, Josephine, etc.)
163 years later, in 1966, a new, less restrictive law was passed.
This new baby-naming law allowed parents to use diminutive names such as Anna, short for Annabelle, or Theo, short for Théodore. Parents could also choose names inspired by mythology such as HARMONIE, the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, or regional and foreign names like Kevin.
In 1993 French parents finally had the right to use more creative names.
The real change for French families came in 1993 when French President François Mitterrand removed these restrictive baby-naming laws.
Suddenly parents had the freedom to be a little more creative in their baby naming choices.
Old habits die hard. You still won’t find many French names that are too Avant-garde or crazy.
Some names are illegal in France.
Although the old restrictive French laws that dictated what names parents could use were removed, the French government can still step in and deny certain baby names in France.
For example, you can’t name your child Nutella in France.
In 2015, a couple tried to name their baby girl “Nutella” after the popular chocolate hazelnut spread, but a judge denied their request. The disappointed French parents were told they could call their baby girl Ella instead (a diminutive form of Nutella.)
Other names that have been refused include “Jihad,” “Ambre” for a boy, and “Liam” for a girl.
Cases like this are rare, and as long as the baby name parents in France choose isn’t offensive, weird or contrary to the child’s best interest, the French authorities will usually approve parents chosen baby name.
You might be interested in reading: 21 Strange, Weird And Funny French Laws In France That Should Change.
The list of French names for girls starts here.
Top 100 most common or popular French names given to girls in France.
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies ( Insee.fr ), the following are the most popular names for girls in France.
These French baby girl names below are listed in order of most popular, with Jade being at the top of the list.
- JADE /pronounced Zhad/
- EMMA (this used to be the most popular French name for girls until recently when Jade took first place.)
- ROMY: (French variation of Rose-Marie)
- LOU (French variation of Louise)
- LÉNA (French variation of Hélène and Elena)
Vintage French girl names that were common between 1900 to 1920.
The following rare French girl names are rare and don’t usually make it to the top 100 list of names given to girls in France anymore, but they were extremely popular at the end of the Victorian era between the years 1900-1920. This period coincides with the Belle Epoque (1871 – 1914.)
Older traditional French names are still a good choice for parents who want to avoid common and popular French girl names such as Louise or Jade. Vintage French names also tend to come in and out of fashion and usually make a comeback every so often.
For instance, the name Léa was extremely popular in 1902, then declined in popularity for a few decades and made a comeback in the 2000s.
Popular French baby girl names from the 50’s
Popular French names for girls in the 80’s
Less common French girl names in France
The following French names are
- MAËLLYS (meaning: princess)
- LAURENCE (this is a female name in France)
- MAGALI or MAGALIE (meaning: pearl)
- FABIENNE (meaning: the noble)
- SABINE (meaning: woman)
- NADEGE (meaning: hope)
- FRÉDÉRIQUE (meaning: peaceful ruler)
- GAELLE (meaning: Irishwoman)
- ELODIE (meaning: foreign riches)
- FANNY (meaning: free one) Diminutives of the French name Frances.
- ALINE (meaning: noble)
- SÉVERINE (meaning: grave, serious or stern)
- LUDIVINE (meaning “friend of the people.”) French soccer player Ludivine Diguelman, golfer Ludivine Krautz and French actress Ludivine Sagnier made this rare French name a little more familiar to the French.
- FATIMA (Arabic meaning: abstain)
- MALIKA (Arabic meaning: queen)
Although there are no official statistics because ethnic statistics are forbidden in France, most immigration of French people of Arab/African descent occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. After which, Arabic names begin making the top 100 list of baby names in France for the first time.
Really rare and uncommon French girl names that are disappearing in France
If you’re looking for an extremely rare or original sounding French baby girl name, here are 15 French girl names that have all but disappeared in France.
- Colombe (French word for hummingbird)
- Herminie (French version of Herminia) Herminie Cadolle is a French woman who invented the modern bra.
- Huguette (French feminine form of Huge)
Compound French girl names
Sometimes people in France have Compound names (prénom composé) which are a set of two or more first names used together, usually separated by a hyphen.
Hyphenated compound names are one single name and not a first and middle name.
For instance, if you met a woman with the French compound name Anne-Laure, you would call her Anne-Laure, not Anne, unless she asked you to call her Anne.
Compound girl names can contain a male name.
Compound French names are usually composed of two names of the same gender but can also be composed of a man and woman’s name.
In this second scenario, where the compound name has a female and male name, the first part of the name dictates whether the name is for a man or a woman.
- Marie-Claude and Marie-Joseph are both French female names.
- Claude-Marie and Joseph Marie are both French male names.
Now, on to the list of compound names.
- Ange-Marie (Ange can be a boy’s name or a girl’s name in French.)
French Actress names
If you love French movies, here are some Famous French female actress names throughout the ages.
- Adèle Haenel
- Annabella (born Suzanne Georgette Charpentier)
- Anaïs Demoustier
- Anouk Aimée
- Audrey Tautou (she started in the French cult film Amélie)
- Brigitte Bardot
- Capuchine (born Germaine Hélène Irène)
- Carole Bouquet
- Catherine Deneuve
- Cécile de France (Belgian actress)
- Charlotte Gainsbourg (daughter of French singer Serge Gainsbourg)
- Danielle Darrieux
- Élodie Bouchez
- Émilie Dequenne
- Emmanuelle Devos
- Eva Gaëlle Green
- Frédérique Bel
- Isabelle Huppert
- Juliette Binoche
- Julie Depardieu (daughter of Gerard Depardieu)
- Lætitia Casta
- Léa Seydoux
- Lily-Rose Depp (daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Chantal Paradis, a French singer, model, and actress.)
- Ludvine Sagnier
- Louise Bourgoin
- Marion Cotillard
- Mélanie Laurent
- Romy Schneider
- Sophie marceau
- Vanessa Paradis
- Virginie Efira
Gender neutral names used in France
The following are gender-neutral names (les prénoms mixtes): given to both boys and girls in France.
- Alex or Alix (from Alexandre meaning: defender of mankind)
- Anaël (meaning: God has answered)
- Ariel (meaning lion of god)
- Camille (French version of Camilla, meaning religious helper)
- Charlie (diminutive of Charles meaning: free man)
- Dominique (meaning: of the lord)
- Eden (meaning: Place of pleasure and delight)
- Sasha/Sacha (diminutif slave d’Alexandre)
- Mahé or Maé (Mahé is a short variant of the name Mazhev, a Breton form of Matthew meaning: gift of god)
- Thaïs (meaning: beloved, the bond)
More about French Culture
By choosing a French female name for your baby girl, you’ll be paying homage to French culture, which places a huge emphasis on family and tradition.
Alternatively, you might just love the way French names sound, and that’s also a perfectly good way to choose the perfect French baby name for your little girl.
Happy baby naming and good luck!