Up until 1993 parents in France had to choose a name for their baby from a long list of acceptable “prenoms” laid out by authorities.
But the list was scrapped under President François Mitterand and French parents were given the liberty to be a little bit more inventive.
However the new law states that a court can still ban names if they decide it is against the child's best interests.
And since 1993 judges have been forced to step in on a number of occasions, most recently this week when parents tried to name their child Mohamed Merah, the same name of a terrorist who killed seven people in 2012.
From cartoon characters to famous faces, there has been no shortage of baby names that have caused minor controversies in France. Here are our favourites.
The much-loved New York skyline is famous worldwide but French authorities do not find it that impressive, or at least as a name for a child.
Perhaps the parents wanted to follow the trend and name their kid (not sure if it was a girl or a boy) after where it was conceived, but in the end they were not allowed.
Perhaps officials in France were not against skylines and would have preferred something a little more Gallic. La Defense may have been more acceptable.
(La Defense. Photo: AFP)
Is that a French baby coming around the corner? No. It's a car. Guillermo Santangelo/Flickr
In 2000, Mr and Mrs Renault were forbidden from naming their new born daughter Mégane – even though it's a perfectly common name. Why? Because her full name would have been Mégane Renault, the name of a car from popular French company Renault. It caused a major controversy in the French legislation, with lawyers arguing that the combination of the first name and surname could have a negative effect on the child's life. The parents eventually took the case to court and won.
Titeuf is a popular cartoon character in France. Photo: bgvjpe/Flickr
In 2009, a couple from the north of France chose to name their son after the famous French children's comic book hero 'Titeuf'. Unfortunately for them, a judge ruled that the name could prove detrimental to their son's life, especially during his teen years, and later in his professional life. Titeuf was an eight-year-old boy with blond hair. He even appeared in British comic book The Dandy, renamed as “TooTuff” for English-speaking audiences.
Ian Somerhalder played a vampire called Demon in the Vampire Diaries. Photo: MelodyJSandoval/Flickr
TV shows might be an eternal source of inspiration for some of us when it comes to naming our children but a French judge disagreed in this 2011 case. A family chose to name their son Deamon (spelled Daemon by some sites), allegedly after Ian Somerhalder's character in Vampire Diaries, reported French newspaper Le Figaro. But the parents were eventually granted the name a year later.
Not everyone was happy about this name. Photo: Loren Javier/Flickr
In October 2006, a Montpellier court wasn't happy about a child having the name “Happy” – or “Joyeux” in French. It remains unclear if the child was named after the cheeriest character in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but either way, the court slammed the decision, stating that the name was rejected due its “fantastical, almost ridiculous nature, that could create difficulties and actual embarrassment for the child”.
Bâbord and Tribord
A ferry in Brittany. Photo: Mike Cattell/Flickr
Brittany is famous for its amazing coasts and boat races and therefore, it is easy to imagine that some of its inhabitants share a passion for sailing. But when a Brittany couple named their children Babord and Tribord (which literally translate to the “port” and “starboard” sides of boats), a line was crossed for the French administration. Officials refused the names.
Photo: Zoran Veselinovic/WikiCommons
In 2010, two ultra Michael Jackson fans were so desperate to name their baby MJ that they even started a Facebook page called “My name is MJ. Help me keep my name”. The page attracted almost 1,000 likes – but the courts didn't think the idea was such a Thriller and told the parents to Beat It – and little MJ wasn't allowed to keep his name. The parents might have had more luck with Billie Jean…
An Australian emu, which some may consider to be ugly. Photo: Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr
As surprising at it may be, the name Moche (which literally translates as “ugly”) isn't actually banned in France has been given to over 150 French children since World War II. The French name 'Moche' could be linked to the Jewish name 'Moshe', which is derived from the Hebraic name 'Moses'.
Nutella and Strawberry
Nutella and Fraise (Strawberry) will have to stay in the cupboard and fridge. Photo: Esimpraim/Flickr
This week saw news that both Nutella and Strawberry (Fraise) were given the red light in France. Why? Because judges thought both girls would be mocked as they grew up. To make matters worse for Fraise, the judge said that the bullies would no doubt pounce at the chance to use the expression “ramène ta fraise” – a slang phrase roughly meaning “get your ass over here”.
Bonus: 'Itler' and 'Iva'
The dog in this picture is neither Itler nor Iva. Photo: Shutterstock
It's not just the humans that fall foul of the law when it comes to names. In January this year, a dog owner in eastern France was told to change the names of his dogs because “Itler” and “Iva” obviously “make people think of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun”.
Given that they were banned for dogs, we can presume that French courts will not be allowing parents to name their children 'Itler' or 'Iva' in future.
By Priscilla Charles/Oliver Gee
Another version of this story was published in October 2015