SHARE
COPY LINK

FAMILY

The French baby names banned by law

France no longer has a list of acceptably French names that parents must pick from, but courts do have the power to ban certain names if they judge they will have an adverse effect on the little one's life. Here's a round-up of some of the names that have been refused over the years.

A nurse takes care of a newborn baby in France
A nurse takes care of a newborn baby in France - a country where courts can step in to stop parents giving silly names to their children. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Up until 1993 parents in France had to choose a name for their baby from a long list of acceptable prénoms 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 law currently states that a court can still ban names if they decide it is against the child’s best interests.

The national statistics body INSEE publishes an annual list of the most popular baby names, but yearly lists of rejected names are not provided.

However, court decisions are often publicised when parents have been ordered to pick a different name for their new arrival.

Here’s a collection of some of those that have been rejected in recent years.

Griezmann-Mbappé

In 2019 football loving couple tried to name their son Griezmann-Mbappé, a neologism of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé who both play for France. The court turned down the request and the child was eventually named Dany.  In a separate case, CR7 – a nickname used for Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo – was also rejected by a French court. 

Clitorine and Vagina 

French media report that these names were refused by courts in 2019. It is not hard to see why. 

Joyeux 

In October 2006, a Montpellier court wasn’t happy about a child having the name Joyeaux (happy). 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”.

Patriste

From the other end of the emotional spectrum, Patriste was also barred. When said slowly, this word could be taken to mean pas triste (not sad). This name has been struck down by a French court. 

Nutella and Fraise

Nutella and Fraise (Strawberry) have both been turned down as names in France. Why? Because judges thought children with these names would be mocked as they grew up.

Some fruit-related names are allowed, however, and even quite common like Clémentine. 

Jihad 

In 2018, as France was reeling from years of deadly terror attacks that had taken place under the Hollande administration, a court in Dijon ruled against parents who wanted to name their child Jihad. 

Mohamed Merah 

Mohamed Merah was a terrorist killed in a standoff with French police after murdering seven people in southwestern France in 2012. When a couple tried to give their child the same name, a court struck it down, saying: “We consider that this would pose difficulties for the child and bring prejudices against him.”

It is unclear whether the name was intended as a tribute to the terrorist or not. 

Mini-Cooper 

The High Court of Perpignan ruled that Mini-Cooper was not a suitable name for a baby girl in 2015, ordering the parents to choose a more “classic” name. 

MJ

In 2010, two ultra Michael Jackson fans named their baby MJ.  The courts didn’t think the idea was such a Thriller and told the parents to Beat It [Sorry, Ed]. The parents might have had more luck with Billie Jean. 

Prince-William 

The Duke of Cambridge may not be a particularly inspiring figure for many people in the UK, but Queen Elizabeth’s grandson certainly appears to have a number of fans in France. However, a Perpignan court ruled that Prince-William was not an acceptable name of a baby boy. 

Anal 

As far as we know, no-one has ever attempted to name their child this. However a lawyer working at the Paris appeals court has listed a range of names on his website, which are best to avoid if you don’t want to have to change it later. Anal, he said, “simply cannot pass”. 

Thanks for the tip, Maître

If far-right TV pundit Eric Zemmour wins the 2022 election this system could change, as he has said he is in favour of returning to a list of ‘French only’ first names for babies. Check the name generator below to see if yours would pass muster.

EXPLAINED: Is your name ‘French enough’ for France?

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

PROPERTY

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at societe.com. If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.

Vocab

Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.

SHOW COMMENTS