'Foreign' baby name still number one in France

The Local France
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'Foreign' baby name still number one in France
Photo: AFP

For the third year in a row, a distinctly English-sounding name has topped the list of the 10 most popular baby names in France, knocking out traditional names such as Lina and Louise.


Emma was the most popular name for girl babies in 2019, as it was in 2018 and 2017

Over the course of last year, 3,944 Emmas were born in France, according to French national research institute Insee, which ranks the 10 most popular baby names in France every year.

The English sounding girl's name, which actually has Germanic origins, beat traditional French names such as Jade and Louise, which came second and third with 3,820 and 3,752 babies respectively.


For the full lists, scroll down.


Gabriel most popular boy's name

Of all the boy babies born in 2019, most were named Gabriel (4,987 in total).

Gabriel won for the second time in a row, albeit with smaller margin than the previous year (5,419 babies were called Gabriel in 2018).

After Gabriel followed Léo (4,653 babies), Raphaël (4,454 babies) and Arthur (4,005 babies).

These names are, like most of the names that made the top 10 boy's list, quite traditional French boy's names.

Most of the top 10 boy's names in 2019 featured on the lists in 2018 and 2017, showing that the classic names are still popular for boys.

READ ALSO: The 6 boys' names that mean something very different in French 

You can see what name was the most popular locally in the maps below:


The French daily Le Parisien has made an online tool to search for the most popular name in your area. Click on this link, scroll all the way down, choose your département and a full list pops up.

Is your name Arya? The fierce young female Game of Thrones character seems to have inspired many parents to name their babies after her (more below). Photo. AFP

Soon to be dethroned?

Neither Emma nor Gabriel are traditional French names with longstanding and recurrent popularity comparable to old French names such as Marie or Louis.

Emma became popular in the 90s and has remained so ever since, but has been gradually losing ground since 2005. 

The decline continued last year when Emma's popularity dropped 10 percent compared to 2018.

Gabriel, which saw a massive upsurge in popularity in the 2000s, has seen its popularity drop since sometime around 2015.


Photo: Insee


The girl names that saw the biggest popularity boost last year were Joy and Arya. While neither made the top 10-list, they did increase by 46 and 38 percent respectively since 2018.

Joy is another English name, while Arya is probably best-known from the world famous series Game of Thrones. 

It's not the first time a celebrity name gains sudden popularity in France.

Back in 2018, 1,169 sets of parents picked the name Aya after the singer behind chart-topping hits such as Djadja and Pookie.

READ ALSO: How France's 'most embarrassing' baby name doesn't actually exist

On the boy side, 1,211 babies born that year were named Kylian, a newcomer name likely made popular by the 2018 French World Cup hero Kylian Mbappé.

But in terms of celebrity naming we're still a long way from 1991 when French parents turned their backs on traditional Gallic names and went absolutely mad for the name Kévin.

That year, some 14,087 bébé Kévins came into the world in France, with the accepted explanation pointing to two Hollywood films. 

Top 10 girl names in 2020:

1. Emma

2. Jade

3. Louise

4. Alice

5. Lina

6. Chloé

7. Rose

8. Léa

9. Mila

10. Ambre

Top 10 boy names in 2020:

1. Gabriel

2. Léo

3. Raphaël

4. Arthur

5. Louis

6. Lucas

7. Adam

8. Jules

9. Hugo

10. Maël






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[email protected] 2020/09/26 09:37
As opposed to the *very* traditional and French sounding Jade.<br /><br />Really y'all? Come on.
[email protected] 2020/09/25 01:01
"English sounding name"? *Sigh* Not like the most famous French literary heroine was named Emma or anything...

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