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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?

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POLITICS

Abstention to far-right surge: 5 key takeaways from France’s parliamentary elections

An 'unprecedented' result in the parliamentary elections leaves France facing parliamentary deadlock and an uncertain future - as the dust settles from Sunday's votes, here are some of the main talking points.

Abstention to far-right surge: 5 key takeaways from France's parliamentary elections

The results are in from Sunday’s parliamentary elections, with president Emmanuel Macron losing his parliamentary majority. The final results showed 245 seats for Macron’s Ensemble coalition (44 seats short of an absolute majority), 131 for the leftist alliance Nupes and 89 for the far-right Rassemblement National.

Here are 5 of the biggest takeaways from the historic result:

Far-right surge – the big surprise of the elections was the huge gains made by Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party, something that had not been predicted by pollsters.

Although Le Pen came second in the 2017 presidential elections (and again came second in the April 2022 election) her party had previously performed poorly in parliamentary elections, winning just eight seats.

That all changed on Sunday, as RN surged to a massive 89 seats, making them the third biggest block in the parliament and the largest single party (since Ensemble and Nupes are both alliances of multiple parties).

This is the best ever result for Le Pen’s party, and it also means the financially-troubled party will be eligible for more funding from the State, which is allocated on the basis of parliamentary representation.

A confident Le Pen said her party would demand the chair of the powerful finance commission, as is tradition for the biggest single-party opposition.

“The country is not ungovernable, but it’s not going to be governed the way Emmanuel Macron wanted,” Le Pen told reporters on Monday.

Minority government – Macron now faces governing in a minority, after his Ensemble coalition won the largest number of seats, but not enough to form an overall majority.

His position is not as bad as his predecessors Jacques Chirac and François Mitterand, both of whom were forced to govern in ‘cohabitation after their parties lost the parliamentary majority. Cohabitation occurs when the president’s party is not the largest party in parliament, and the president is then forced to appoint as prime minister the leader of the party with the parliamentary majority.

Macron’s loss of an absolute majority, however, means he faces five years of shaky alliances and deal-making with opposition MPs in order to get any legislation passed. Previous presidents have spent part of their term with a small minority but to begin a five-year term with such a large minority – 44 seats short – is unprecedented in the Fifth Republic.

READ ALSO What next for France after Macron loses majority?

France divided – the most striking thing about the new electoral map is how fragmented it is – no party or group dominates overall and there are few ‘local strongholds’ for any party.

This is reflected in the overall results for the parliament, in which Macron’s party has the largest number of seats but no majority and no other party has a clear mandate to dominate parliament.

The leftist Nupes alliance failed in its ambition to become the single largest group in parliament and force Macron to appoint the far-left veteran politician Jean-Luc Mélelchon as prime minister. 

After decades of domination by the two big parties of the centre-left and centre-right these elections confirm the trend seen in the presidential elections in April – that French votes are bow divided into three roughly equal blocks; the far left, far right and centre.

The increasing acrimony between the groups also lead to the collapse of the Front républicainthe traditional pact where voters from across the political spectrum band together to vote against any far-right candidate who makes it through to the second round of voting.

The failure of candidates of both Macron’s centrist group and Mélenchon’s leftist group to call for a strong Front républicain contributed to the unexpected success of Le Pen candidates.

OPINION France has voted itself into a prolonged and painful crisis

New faces – The Macron government lost three ministers – health minister Brigitte Bourguignon, environment minister Amélie de Montchalin and maritime minister Justine Benin – who all failed to be elected. They don’t technically have to quit their ministerial roles, but Macron said before the election that he expected ministers who lost elections to step down.

The other 12 ministers who were standing for election won their seats – in the case of Europe minister Clément Beaune by just 658 votes – but a government reshuffle is now on the cards.

One of the most high-profile of the newly-elected candidates is Rachel Kéké, a former hotel maid who came to prominence leading a campaign for better working conditions at her hotel in the Paris suburbs. She was elected as the Nupes candidate, defeating Macron’s former sports minister Roxana Maracineanu.

The north-east suburbs of Paris now has a husband-and-wife MP combination, as Alexis Corbières was re-elected in Bagnolet while his wife Raquel Garrido won her first term in neighbouring Bobigny. They both represent the hard-left La France Insoumise and Garrido is originally Chilean, moving to France as a child after her parents fled the coup in 1973. 

The new parliament is slightly less gender-balanced than previously, with 215 female MPs out of a total of 557. The 2017 parliament counted 224. 

Turnout – the elections saw a record low turnout, with just 46 percent of registered voters casting their ballot papers. This marked the lowest turnout rate for parliamentary elections since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958, a three-point fall on 2017 which previously held the record.

The second round of voting also saw a fall in turnout from round one the previous week, when 48 percent of voters turned out.

The abstention rate follows the trend of the presidential elections in April, which also saw a record low turnout for a presidential election.

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