With apologies to Shakespeare for the post title!

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This is an updated post of one I wrote in 2019 called: Top 20 first names in France.

I’ve always been interested in names. As a teacher, learning – and remembering – the names of your students is extremely important. I was also intrigued by the ‘fashion’ for first names and how this was reflected in my class registers.

I remember, one year, when I was teaching in London, and I had a class full of Kylies! Equally, when I taught in France, certain English names were very popular. However, I must confess to being surprised when, one year, Kevin topped the list.

Of course, when it came to naming our two sons, there was another dilemma, stemming from my teaching experience. Certain names immediately conjured up memories of naughty boys I had taught. I’m being very polite here! I also taught naughty girls but having produced two sons, this wasn’t an issue.

We also have a long and unusual surname. In the end, we went for very traditional, ancient names. They are both Biblical names but, to be honest with you, that is coincidental and both boys have opted to use the short form of their first names.

Therefore, when I came across an article which listed the most popular first names in France, I was delighted. This gave the top 10 names for girls, in 2019. I extended my research to a range of French magazines and websites. Here is the unofficial result!

  1. Emma
  2. Louise
  3. Jade
  4. Alice
  5. Mila
  6. Chloé
  7. Inès
  8. Lina
  9. Léa
  10. Léna

And here are the boys:

  1. Gabriel
  2. Louis
  3. Raphaël
  4. Léo
  5. Adam
  6. Jules
  7. Lucas
  8. Maël
  9. Hugo
  10. Liam

In a similar (and equally unscientific) fashion, here are the top 10 names for girls in 2022. You will see that certain names are on both lists, whilst other have disappeared.

  1. Emily
  2. Mia
  3. Emma
  4. Mila
  5. Lily
  6. Eléa
  7. Ella
  8. Anna
  9. Julia
  10. Emilia

The boys:

  1. Matéo
  2. Raphaël
  3. Gabriel
  4. Liam
  5. Lucas
  6. Maël 
  7. Elias
  8. Théo
  9. Léo 
  10. Louis

I think some of these names are lovely, some interesting and some are surprising. When I first started learning French, at school, the names of the children in the textbook were Nicole, Brigitte, Xavier and Pierre.

I have French friends called Sophie, Anne, Laurent and Michel, fairly traditional. However, there was a time when I knew lots of people called Jean-Paul, Anne-Sophie, Marie-Louise and so forth. First names evolve over time.

Many people don’t even like their first names! I came to this conclusion having done a quick poll around friends and family. They use their middle names (if they have one) or a nickname. I think Shakespeare was on to something when Juliet asked ‘what’s in a name?!’